By Darrel Crain, D.C.
Before the advent of the measles vaccine, a dozen or so cases of measles would have been considered, well, too measly to make the headlines. That is because we all got the measles when we were kids. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers anyone born before 1957 to be immune to the measles.
"Before a vaccine was available, infection with measles virus was nearly universal during childhood with more than 90 percent of persons immune by age 15 years," according to the CDC's Pink Book.
We baby boomers were apparently the last generation whose doctors, and therefore parents, accepted the measles as just one more annoying rite of passage of childhood that also happened to prime the immune system and provide lifelong immunity.
Medical texts prior to the advent of the vaccine described measles as a benign, self-limiting childhood infectious disease that posed little risk to the average well-nourished child. All of that changed about 40 years ago when health authorities decreed the need to eradicate the measles, and so began The Great Measles Massacre.
The recent measles outbreak in Southern California provides an opportunity to review how effective the overall strategy of measles eradication has been so far.
First of all, measles-related deaths had already declined over 90 percent from the early 1900s by the time the measles vaccine came on the scene. The combination of steadily improving standards of living, better nutrition, antiseptic medical care and effective sanitation achieved this remarkable advance in public health in the "pre-vaccine" era.
One of the first measles vaccines tried out on a large scale was the inactivated or "killed" measles vaccine (KMV). The CDC's Pink Book reports that "an estimated 600,000 to 900,000 persons" in the U.S. were injected with KMV from 1963 to 1967, before it was finally withdrawn.
The incredibly vague record of how many people received the shot is a bit unsettling, but what's truly disturbing is how such a harmful and ineffective vaccine got approved and recommended in the first place. "KMV sensitized the recipient to measles virus antigens without providing protection," the Pink Book tells us.
After exposure to natural measles, vast numbers of people vaccinated with KMV contracted atypical measles, an autoimmune disorder consisting of very high fevers, unusual rashes, pneumonia and pleural edema.
The really big campaign against measles began with the live virus vaccine, which arrived in 1971 as a component of the three-virus MMR shot (measles, mumps, rubella). The public was assured that this vaccine was different, it was safe and would provide lifetime immunity. Alas, these predictions proved a bit premature.
"An outbreak of measles occurred in a high school with a documented vaccination level of 98 per cent," reported the American Journal of Public Health, April 1987.
"We conclude that outbreaks of measles can occur in secondary schools, even when more than 99 percent of the students have been vaccinated and more than 95 percent are immune," according to the New England Journal of Medicine, March 1987.
By the mid-1990s, substantial vaccine failures prompted our health leaders to declare a booster MMR shot necessary for all. Once again, it was promised this would confer lifetime immunity. Since no actual lifetime data was available at the time, this prediction was presumably made using FDA-approved crystal ball technology.
Today, the number of reported measles cases is down considerably, and we are assured this means we have successfully massacred the measles. Unfortunately, such a one-dimensional analysis fails to tell the whole story. Not all is well with the MMR.
Before widespread vaccination against measles, young babies were not at risk of measles because they acquired immunity through the mother's blood. Adults were not at risk because most of us gained lifelong immunity as a child. Both these groups are now susceptible to the measles and both have greater risk of severe disease and complications. This is described as an "unintended outcome" of measles vaccination.
And there is another unforeseen problem. "The vaccination-induced measles virus antibodies decline in the absence of natural booster infections. It is important to follow how long the protection achieved by the present vaccine program will last after elimination of indigenous measles," reported the journal Vaccine, December 1998.
This raises the question: What will happen as we eventually succeed in replacing natural measles with vaccine measles? David Levy, of Montefiore Medical Center in New York created a computer model to answer that question: "Despite short-term success in eliminating the disease, long-range projections demonstrate that the proportion of susceptibles in the year 2050 may be greater than in the pre-vaccine era." In other words, according to Levy's prediction, we are in for higher rates of infection than we started with, spread throughout age groups at greater risk.
Currently, whenever there is an "outbreak" of measles (defined by the CDC as at least two infections from the same source), health officials leap into action. First and foremost, parents are told to drop everything and make sure their child gets a booster shot. Whether or not giving the booster actually helps is uncertain since few studies have ever examined the outcome of this practice.
One such investigation however, was carried out during a measles outbreak in a highly vaccinated secondary school population and reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, November 1996. The authors of the study concluded, "Administration of a second dose of vaccine during the outbreak was not protective."
Is there anything that has been scientifically proven to protect the health of children infected with measles? The simple act of supplementing with vitamin A has repeatedly been shown effective in clinical trials all around the globe to reduce the severity of infection and slash measles death rates.
This suggests that our health leaders should be promoting vitamin A as a first line of defense to protect children in this country, since measles deaths in the United States have always been clustered in impoverished, malnourished populations.
Measles outbreaks predictably spawn newspaper editorials portraying parents who choose to not vaccinate their children as unwitting dupes of anti-vaccine zealots, with the inevitable call to end parents' right to waive vaccination. The fact that vaccine-induced health disorders have been widely reported in the medical literature suggests that the writers of the editorials, not the parents, are the ones who have not done their homework.
British vaccine expert witness Jayne Donegan, M.D. is a parent who has spent years researching vaccines. She concludes, "I vaccinated both my children with the MMR jab, but this was before I started my research into the problems associated with it. Knowing what I know now, I would not vaccinate my children and run the risk of them getting diabetes, asthma, eczema, becoming more susceptible to meningitis and ending up chronically disabled."
Which brings up what is likely the most dramatic advance emerging in health care today, the potential to restore the health of vaccine-damaged children using biomedical principles of nutrition and detoxification. You might think that the CDC would be blazing the trail to promote this approach that is helping so many children. Instead we hear the relentless drone of denial that such a path even exists.
By the way, if you've been waiting for the FDA to step in and re-investigate the enormous safety issues that have cropped up regarding the MMR and other vaccines, you'll have to take a number and get in line. All three FDA employees in charge of food and drug safety are reportedly busy chasing down a small company found to be printing unproven health claims on their labels for food products made from cherries.
"The FDA will not tolerate unsubstantiated health claims that may mislead consumers," said Margaret Glavin, associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. "The FDA will pursue necessary legal action to make sure companies and their executives manufacture and distribute safe, truthfully labeled products to consumers," according to an FDA press release.
This impressive new declaration by the FDA that it will begin demanding truthful labeling is a breath of fresh air. It may help us move toward actual informed consent in medicine. And since we're on the subject of measles, I propose the following new label for the MMR vaccine vial:
"This product contains substances known by the United States Government to cause harm to human beings, including cancer, autoimmune diseases, nuero-developmental diseases and allergies. Genetically susceptible individuals injected with this vaccine are known to suffer enterocolitis, nerve system dysfunction and autism. Antibodies in the bloodstream provoked by the vaccine do not necessarily confer protection from natural measles. Paradoxically, in order for this vaccine to work at all, you must come in contact with natural measles virus from time to time. The maker of this product cannot be prosecuted for any disability or death caused by the vaccine to you or your babies, and good luck trying to sue the government instead."
At last count there were about seventeen jillion government and vaccine industry-funded journal articles claiming to disprove any possible link between vaccination and autism. With each new report, the medical community has harrumphed loudly that this one, finally, is the definitive study that will lay to rest forever any foolish questions of vaccine safety.
Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder of the National Vaccine Information Center, notes that no amount of reporting on cherry-picked data mined from old medical records does any good to erase our current epidemic of profoundly sick children.
"Using pencils and calculators to dismiss causal associations between vaccines and chronic diseases is easier than having to look at real live patients or study what happens to their blood, urine, eyes, brain, colons, etc. after vaccination."
Has the time come to rename the whole measles eradication enterprise as The Great Measles Misunderstanding? The history of vaccination against measles is replete with tragic health-damaging errors, unanticipated negative outcomes, and a misplaced faith that mass vaccination is the unquestioned master plan.
The federal government has now conceded what thousands of parents have known for years, that vaccination can trigger a regression into autism in genetically susceptible children. This is a vital first step. Perhaps our health leaders will now begin asking the hard questions they have been avoiding for so long, beginning with how and why we wage war on childhood infectious disease.
Next time you read an editorial castigating parents for choosing to avoid vaccination, keep in mind that one day soon the same writer may instead be writing words of gratitude. Those who volunteer to skip the vaccine are benefiting us all by keeping the pool of circulating natural measles alive and well.
Dr. Darrel Crain is a Family Chiropractor and Natural Health Writer practicing in San Diego, California. He is a 1998 graduate of Cleveland Chiropractic College of Los Angeles (CCCLA).