Thursday, February 5, 2015


According to World Health Organization data, in 2012 there were 108 countries around the world better than the United States at vaccinating its population against the measles. Things didn't change much the next year as the United States had a vaccination rate of just 91% in 2013, which put the U.S. just above Mexico's vaccination rate of 89%, and placed America in a virtual tie with Angola.

Via Quartz we get a sample of the many countries that actually did a better job of vaccinating their people than the United States in 2012 ...
Measles vaccination rates for select countries, 2012.

So, yes, the measles are making a come back in the United States. And, yes, this is definitely a step backward.

The measles - which was first described in 7th century A.D., and considered "more dreaded than smallpox" by the 10th century A.D. - is a disease that we had pretty much eradicated in America by the end of the 20th century. Then something happened.

Vaccine-Autism hysteria took off in the United States during the aughts (i.e. 2000-2009).

The vaccination rate began to decline in the United States (and around the world) after Dr. Andrew Wakefield published a now discredited paper in 1998 that falsely linked autism to the MMR vaccinations. Research into Dr. Wakefield's findings and his methods not only debunked his work but led to his professional branding as an irresponsible and dishonest researcher. His career was ruined.

Unfortunately, because people who are prone to embracing conspiracy theories are also the same kind of lunatics most likely to distrust a scientists' opinions about vaccines, the anti-vaccination damage had been done.

Because of hysteria and rumors caused by Dr. Wakefield's paper a large number of parents in the U.S. refused to have their children vaccinated after 1998. The trend continues today with many anti-state and religious groups convinced that the government's out to get them, or that there's no need to vaccinate their children since life is in the hands of a higher being.

When we combine the hysteria and rumors caused by Dr. Wakefield's paper with the fact that it has become politically acceptable to be anti-science in America, it really should come as no surprise the measles have been making a come back in the United States over the past 15 years.

This development is disheartening, and dangerous, especially for the primary groups most affected by declining vaccination rates: (1) those who are unvaccinated, (2) those with weak immune systems, and (3) infants who are too young to get shots (you need to be between 12 and 15 months to get your first vaccine shot).

With all of this going on in America what's happened is that specific states and regions have dropped below the "herd immunity" vaccination rate. This happens when 95 percent or less of the population has not been vaccinated.

It turns out that the vaccination rates of several states in the United States (Colorado, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Idaho, and North Dakota) have fallen dangerously below 90 percent vaccination rates, which is well under the "herd immunity" vaccination rate. This is just one of the reasons we have seen "a big upsurge in the number of cases of measles" across the United States, and a record breaking year in 2014.

All of this should be a concern for everyone interested in the health and safety of our nation. This is especially the case given that Washington State University researchers found a virus in 2013 linked to the measles and mumps that employs "burglary-ring-like teamwork" to infiltrate human cells.

Worse, according to the study, the virus can be transmitted from certain animals, and not just humans.

For additional information you can check out the Council on Foreign Relations interactive map on the growing number of measles and mumps cases around the world here.

- Mark

With the exception of the World Health data posted above, much of the anti-vaccination history here is drawn from a post on the topic I that I did last year.

Addendum (2-5-14): The Penn and Teller clip below, which describes the reality behind vaccinations, helps make the point that anti-vaxxers want to ignore ... 

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