Letter to Editor: Furor over measles

To the Editor:

Back in 1962, Dr. Alexander Langmuir, an internationally prominent epidemiologist of the Center for Communicable Diseases (the old CDC), described measles this way: “This self-limiting infection of short duration, moderate severity, and low fatality has maintained a remarkably stable biological balance over the centuries.”

Note that this was before the first measles vaccine became available. He repeated literally the same words five years later in an official Public Health Service statement, before the vaccine had become widely used, adding that “immunity following recovery [from the disease, not vaccination] is solid and lifelong in duration.” A short, moderate infection providing lifelong immunity. Not a bad deal.

Fast forward 57 years.

Numerous papers have appeared in the scientific literature indicating that flaws in the current vaccine render it incapable of providing the herd immunity so desperately sought through draconian laws focused on the magic number of a 95 percent vaccination rate. Unscientifically, that number — not (yet) required for adults — is also required for vaccines of all the other childhood infections, whose transmission patterns bear no resemblance to that of measles.

Neverthelesss, the New York State legislature and governor have passed (in one day, without public hearings) the elimination of non-medical exemptions to childhood vaccination. Immediately, some school districts notified parents that if their children aren’t up to date with the schedule, they will be reported to Child Protective Services. This is a chilling message for any parent aware of the instances in the U.S. where this practice has led to the removal of children to foster homes and forced vaccination. Rockland County threatened parents of unvaccinated kids with a large fine and imprisonment for allowing their kids in public places.

Meanwhile, California is on the verge of passing Senate Bill 276. In the case of someone applying for a medical exemption (the only kind in California), the bill makes available to public health officials medical information that traditionally has been considered private between a patient and doctor.

Ironically, this privacy violation will primarily affect immuno-compromised kids, who do need medical exemptions. Any exemption written by a doctor, based on his/her considered medical opinion and knowledge of the child and family, which does not conform to the unscientifically rigid specs of the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics, will be revoked by the State, and the doctor potentially put in jeopardy.

All this for a “self-limiting infection of short duration, moderate severity, and low fatality” and real immunity — an infection for which respiratory complications have for decades been significantly reduced by vitamin A therapy.

The CDC’s own records show a pre-vaccine death rate of 1 in 10,000 cases, not 1 in 1,000 as the CDC now (quite loudly) proclaims. The fact that zero deaths have occurred in the current 1,000-plus-case outbreak will undoubtedly not stem the fear-fervor that will erupt when/if a first lone death occurs. Meanwhile, over 200,000 deaths each year occur in hospitals due to preventable causes, but go mostly unremarked in public discourse.

Tellingly, the CDC’s vaccine committee (ACIP) has just met and added a number of adult vaccines to its schedule. This includes Gardasil for women ages 29-45, despite the fact that ACIP’s own working group on the subject unanimously recommended against doing so. This is another of a growing number of scientifically unsupportable decisions by that committee that are at last becoming publicly visible.

With hundreds of adult vaccines in the pipeline, a federal policy to push adult vaccines, and a growing awareness that vaccinating 95 percent of children doesn’t create herd immunity, the appearance of adult vaccination mandates is only a matter of time. This should give pause to those adults who think this is only an issue for parents and kids.

Dick Atlee

Southwest Harbor

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