Claims About the Disneyland Measles Outbreak – Truth! & Misleading!
Summary of eRumor:
Measles vaccines are less effective than previously believed and the patient zero measles carrier in the Disneyland measles outbreak may have been immunized against measles.
Claims in this email are mostly true, but they are presented in potentially misleading ways to argue the case for the anti-vaccination movement.
The eRumor first appeared in a blog post at GreenMedInfo.com. The mission of the website is to “provide free and convenient access to biomedical research available today on the therapeutic value of natural substances in disease prevention and treatment.”
The founder of GreenMedInfo.com, and the listed author of the eRumor, is a man named Sayer Ji. He was a philosophy major who spent five years as a wilderness therapy specialist before becoming an “educator and consultant for the natural products industry and health and wellness field,” according to the bio on his website.
The blog post went viral as a national debate about measles immunizations was sparked by an outbreak of measles at Disneyland in December of 2014. The post was quickly shared more than 60,000 times on social media and appeared in countless forwarded emails. Here’s a look at some of the eRumor’s individual claims:
It’s widely believed that the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is 99% effective – Truth!
This claim is mostly true, but the level of effectiveness varies from individual to individual. The CDC reports:
“More than 95% of the people who receive a single dose of MMR will develop immunity to all 3 viruses. A second vaccine dose gives immunity to almost all of those who did not respond to the first dose.”
But vaccines have a margin of failure, even for those who have a double dose of the measles vaccine, Wired reports:
“That’s why the CDC recommends two doses of the vaccine: After the first dose, 5 to 7 percent of people won’t have a good enough antibody response to protect them. A second dose ensures that enough people get antibodies above that protective threshold to control the disease. “And even with two doses, you can get some failure,” says Greg Wallace, lead of the measles, mumps, rubella and polio team at the CDC, “whether it’s because the initial response isn’t perfect, or because the response waned in some people.”
The World Health Organization reports that about 205 million children were vaccinated worldwide in 2013. Even with a 1% failure rate, more than 2 million children who were vaccinated in 2013 alone may still be susceptible to infection. That number could be higher if all of the 205 million children who received their first vaccination did not receive a second.
18% of measles cases occur in those who have been vaccinated against it – Unproven!
The eRumor doesn’t cite a source for the “18%” claim, which makes it impossible to prove or disprove.
During a separate measles outbreak in California in 2014, it was found that 18% of the people who contracted measles had been vaccinated, the Los Angeles Times reports:
“Health officials said they are much more concerned about those who are not immunized than about the cases of those who got sick despite being vaccinated.
‘There’s the tug here between a very effective vaccine and a very infectious virus,’ said Orange County Public Health Officer Dr. Eric Handler. ‘And so when you have a scenario where hundreds of people get exposed, then even if the vaccine is 99% good after two doses, you’re going to have a handful of people who are going to get sick.”
So, the 18% statistic appears to be purely anecdotal. It refers to one specific outbreak, not all measles outbreaks.
An immunized person in New York transmitted measles to four people for the first time in 2011 – Truth!
This claim is true. A 22-year-old woman who received two doses of MRR early in life contracted measles in 2011, and four other people contracted measles after exposure to her.
While it’s not uncommon for someone who has been vaccinated to contract measles, this was the first time that a vaccinated person was able to pass the virus on to others. A report that was published in the Oxford University Press on behalf of the Infectious Diseases Society of America in February of 2014 concluded:
“This is the first report of measles transmission from a twice-vaccinated individual with documented secondary vaccine failure. The clinical presentation and laboratory data of the index patient were typical of measles in a naive individual. Secondary patients had robust anamnestic antibody responses. No tertiary cases occurred despite numerous contacts. This outbreak underscores the need for thorough epidemiologic and laboratory investigation of suspected cases of measles regardless of vaccination status.”
TruthorFiction.com reached out to report co-author Dr. Jennifer Rosen of the New York City Bureau of Immunization for comment. Future updates will be posted here.
–Scientists have linked measles vaccinations to autism – Fiction!
There’s no scientific evidence that vaccinations can lead to autism.
The claim first surfaced in 1998 in the Lancet, a British medical journal. In it, Dr. Andrew Wakefield claimed that his research proved that MMR was unsafe. However, the research paper was officially retracted in February of 2010. The New York Times reports:
“Dr. Wakefield’s paper reported on his examinations of 12 children with chronic intestinal disorders who had a history of normal development followed by severe mental regressions. He speculated that the combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine may have caused some sort of chronic intestinal measles infection that in turn damaged the children’s brains. He suggested that the combined vaccine should be split into three separate shots and given over a longer period of time.
“But an investigation by a British journalist found financial and scientific conflicts that Dr. Wakefield did not reveal in his paper. For instance, part of the costs of Dr. Wakefield’s research were paid by lawyers for parents seeking to sue vaccine makers for damages. Dr. Wakefield was also found to have patented in 1997 a measles vaccine that would succeed if the combined vaccine were withdrawn or discredited.”
Despite the Lancet’s retraction, Wakefield’s work is regularly cited by MMR opponents.
–Patient zero in the Disneyland measles outbreak was immunized- Unproven!
Health officials said in early February of 2015 that they had not identified patient zero in the Disneyland measles outbreak, but that they believed it was a traveler from outside the country.
Measles Transmitted By The Vaccinated, Gov. Researchers Confirm
Sayer Ji, Founder
A remarkable study reveals that a vaccinated individual not only can become infected with measles, but can spread it to others who are also vaccinated against it – doubly disproving two doses of MMR vaccine is “99% effective,” as widely claimed.
One of the fundamental errors in thinking about measles vaccine effectiveness is that receipt of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine equates to bona fide immunity against these pathogens. Indeed, it is commonly claimed that receiving two doses of the MMR vaccine is “99 percent effective in preventing measles,”1 despite a voluminous body of contradictory evidence from epidemiology and clinical experience.
This erroneous thinking has led the public, media and government alike to attribute the origin of measles outbreaks, such as the one recently reported at Disney, to the non-vaccinated, even though 18% of the measles cases occurred in those who had been vaccinated against it — hardly the vaccine’s claimed “99% effective.” The vaccine’s obvious fallibility is also indicated by the fact that that the CDC now requires two doses.
But the problems surrounding the failing MMR vaccine go much deeper. First, they carry profound health risks (over 25 of which we have indexed here: MMR vaccine dangers), including increased autism risk, which a senior CDC scientist confessed his agency covered up. Second, not only does the MMR vaccine fail to consistently confer immunity, but those who have been “immunized” with two doses of MMR vaccine can still transmit the infection to others — a phenomena no one is reporting on in the rush to blame the non- or minimally-vaccinated for the outbreak.
MMR Vaccinated Can Still Spread Measles
Last year, a groundbreaking study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, whose authorship includes scientists working for the Bureau of Immunization, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, GA, looked at evidence from the 2011 New York measles outbreak that individuals with prior evidence of measles vaccination and vaccine immunity were both capable of being infected with measles and infecting others with it (secondary transmission).
This finding even aroused the attention of mainstream news reporting, such as this Sciencemag.org article from April 2014 titled “Measles Outbreak Traced to Fully Vaccinated Patient for First Time.”
Titled, “Outbreak of Measles Among Persons With Prior Evidence of Immunity, New York City, 2011,” the groundbreaking study acknowledged that, “Measles may occur in vaccinated individuals, but secondary transmission from such individuals has not been documented.”
In order to find out if measles vaccine compliant individuals are capable of being infected and transmitting the infection to others, they evaluated suspected cases and contacts exposed during a 2011 measles outbreak in NYC. They focused on one patient who had received two doses of measles-containing vaccine and found that,
“Of 88 contacts, four secondary cases were confirmed that had either two doses of measles-containing vaccine or a past positive measles IgG antibody. All cases had laboratory confirmation of measles infection, clinical symptoms consistent with measles, and high avidity IgG antibody characteristic of a secondary immune response.”
Their remarkable conclusion:
“This is the first report of measles transmission from a twice vaccinated individual. The clinical presentation and laboratory data of the index were typical of measles in a naïve individual. Secondary cases had robust anamnestic antibody responses. No tertiary cases occurred despite numerous contacts. This outbreak underscores the need for thorough epidemiologic and laboratory investigation of suspected measles cases regardless of vaccination status.”
Did you follow that? A twice-vaccinated individual, from a NYC measles outbreak, was found to have transmitted measles to four of her contacts, two of which themselves had received two doses of MMR vaccine and had prior presumably protective measles IgG antibody results.
This phenomenon — the MMR vaccine compliant infecting other MMR vaccine compliant cases – has been ignored by health agencies and the media. This data corroborates the possibility that, during the Disney measles outbreak the previously vaccinated (any of the 18% known to have become infected) may have become infected or already were shedding measles from a vaccine and transmitted measles to both the vaccinated and the non-vaccinated.
Stop Blaming A Failing Vaccine on Failure to Vaccinate
The moral of the story is that you can’t blame non-vaccinating parents for the morbidity and mortality of infectious diseases when vaccination does not result in immunity and does not keep those who are vaccinated from infecting others. In fact, outbreaks secondary to measles vaccine failure and shedding in up to 99% immunization compliant populations have happened for decades, which you can learn in greater depth by reading our recent review article on the topic: “The Disney Measles Outbreak: A Mousetrap of Ignorance.”
Moreover, these CDC and NYC Bureau of Immunization scientists identified a ‘need’ for there to be “thorough epidemiologic and laboratory investigation of suspected measles cases regardless of vaccination status,” i.e. investigators must rule out vaccine failure and infection by fully infected individuals as contributing to measles outbreaks.
Instead, what’s happening now is that the moment a measles outbreak occurs, a reflexive ‘blame the victim’ attitude is assumed, and the media and/or health agencies report on the outbreak as if it has been proven the afflicted are under or non-vaccinated – often without sufficient evidence to support these claims.
Clearly stakeholders in the vaccine/non-vaccine debate need to look at the situation through the lens of the evidence itself and not science by proclamation or pleas to authority.