Clark County, WA — (March 4, 2019) – On February 27, 2019, Alan Melnick, MD, director and health officer of Clark County, WA released information online regarding “Public Health measles response.” The information included a page about “Immunization misinformation” along with public comments from the Clark County Health Department FaceBook page that counter Dr. Melnicks’s claims. Informed Choice WA performed a fact check of the claims.
According to Dr. Melnick, the following is “Common misinformation on social media” and the facts we found.
Getting measles is best way to develop immunity
FACTS FOUND: If considering duration of protection and population-level consequences, wild measles exposure confers lifelong immunity (protection from re-infection). Before the vaccine was introduced, virtually every American aged 15 and older had already acquired a lifetime immunityfrom measles due to natural exposure. Studies show that vaccination with two doses of MMR provides protective levels of positive antibodies for only about ten years. Unlike mothers who experienced wild measles, vaccinated mothers lack the ability to provide strong passive immunity, making infants more vulnerable during the first years of life. A third dose of MMRis unable to create sustainable protective levels of antibodies and is not a solution to the ever-growing population of fully-vaccinated but non-immune adults.
Measles prevents cancer
FACTS FOUND: We located studies ranging from 1998to 2018 that show experiencing febrile infectious childhood diseases—including measles — decreases risk of some types of cancer. A 2006 study reports “Infections may play a paradoxical role in cancer development with chronic infections often being tumorigenic and acute infections being antagonistic to cancer.”
Measles is benign
FACTS FOUND: CDC historical data show that just ~10% of measles cases (~400,000 out of ~4 million annual cases) were ever reported to the CDC, likely because the majority of measles cases were mild and uneventful and didn’t need to be medically attended. Case-fatality rate of 1 in 10,000 cases (~400 measles deaths per ~4 million measles infections) in the U.S. in the early 1960s, just prior to the availability of a measles vaccine, is again based on historical vital statistics records. U.S.-based studies on risk factors for hospitalization from measles revealed that 75–92% of hospitalized measles cases in the U.S. in the 1990s were low in vitamin A (add ref), a nutrient deficiency that is well known to increase the risk of death and complications from measles. In healthy, well-nourished and vitamin A-sufficient children, measles doesn’t pose a risk of death or even hospitalization.
Measles vaccine sheds and infects others
FACTS FOUND: Measles vaccine is a live attenuated form of a measles virus. The vaccine measles virus has been reported inurine specimens from vaccine recipients. Measles vaccine shedding is severely understudied. A case of sibling transfer of vaccine-strain measles following MMR administration is the subject of a 1989 paper, and a case of vaccine-strain measles in a vaccinated child led researchers to conclude that “further investigation is needed on the upper limit of measles vaccine virus shedding based on increased sensitivity of the RT-PCR-based detection technologies and immunological factors associated with vaccine-associated measles illness and virus shedding.” We also found information about vaccinated individuals with subclinical, mild, and asymptomatic infections. The World Health Organization says transmission of measles from asymptomatic cases is “likely to be very rare” but they admit “the potential role of asymptomatic infectionsin maintaining transmission requires further investigation.”
Measles vaccine causes autism, seizures, encephalitis.
AUTISM: In a television interview, former Director of the CDC Julie Gerberding acknowledged that autism symptoms can result from an adverse reaction to vaccination in some children. A study the CDC often cites that did not include a vaccine-free control group, concluded that although the number of vaccine antigens a child is exposed to does not appear to influence their autism risk, “It can be argued that ASD with regression, in which children usually lose developmental skills during the second year of life, could be related to exposures in infancy, including vaccines”. Recent whistleblower admissionsspecifically about the 2004 MMR-autism study, along with under-oath testimonies of two leading pediatric neurologists, and that fact only one vaccine and one vaccine ingredient have been studied in relation to autism, and never in studies with a vaccine-free control group, reveal that the science is far from settled regarding vaccination and autism.
SEIZURES: Seizures from MMR are listed on the Federal Vaccine Injury Table. Febrile seizures are reported in infants and young children 7-10 days after vaccination at an estimated rate of rate of 1 event per 2,500 doses of MMR or 1 event per 1,250 doses of MMRV(with varicella).
ENCEPHALITIS: Encephalopathy and encephalitis are listed on the Federal Vaccine Injury Tableand qualify for compensation under the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act for Compensation with the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. The manufacturer lists several types encephalopathy and encephalitison the vaccine insert(frequency of occurrence is unknown since less than 1% of all vaccine adverse events are reported) and cases of MMR-induced have been awarded compensation by National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.
The graphs regarding vaccination rates provided by Dr. Melnick imply low coverage in some areas. This appears to be an artifact of the timing and location of data collection. State tracking of vaccine uptake is not harmonized with the CDC schedule, and some locations have very low numbers of Kindergarteners, giving rise to high exemption rates even if just one child has an exemption from one vaccine or booster. The CDC gives a range of ages 4-6,inclusive, to get several vaccine doses, but Washington State marks a child as “incomplete” if at Kindergarten entry, around age 5, those doses have not yet been given.
In summary, we found that the social media posts all had a strong basis in fact, and that Dr. Melnick’s labeling them “misinformation” was in itself “misinformation.” This is a disturbing trend we are seeing from many public health sources and media outlets.