Putting Measles into Perspective.

Before the MMR vaccine, measles was at epidemic proportions. Before the vaccine, the US had 3-4 million cases of measles! That’s insane! Thank goodness for vaccines.

The end.

Aw, now you didn’t think I’d let vaccines get off THAT easy did you?

Prior to the vaccine, 3-4 million cases of measles occured in the United States each year. <—True.

Also true, however, is that of those 3-4 million cases, only about 450 people died each year from it in the years before the vaccine.

That still seems like a lot? Instead of running out to make sure your vaccinations are up to date, how about a shot of perspective instead?

In the screen shot below, I have figured out the percentage of people who died from measles of all of the measles cases back then.  0.015%.  Suddenly, measles seems a little less scary doesn’t it? The CDC claims that around 1 or 2 out of a thousand people who get measles will die from measles. Their math doesn’t add up though. I guess they use the term “about” lightly.

measles vaccination statistics

Also, consider that in 1963, the population was 189,241,798. That means that prior to the vaccine, the percentage of the entire US population that died from measles was .000237%. (Remember this figure, because it will be important in about two paragraphs.)

Now, if you read the little excerpt above, you might be scared, because even with vaccines, the global death count for children from measles is 197,000 in the stats above!  That’s a scare tactic and it makes me mad. First of all, it wasn’t 197,000 children. It was 197,000 people and some of them were children.

Then the excerpt above goes on to talk about present day figures. There are over 6 billion people on the planet. That’s shown as  6,000,000,000 numerically. Correct me if you disagree, but when over 150,000 people die each day total,  is 540 people dying of measles each day really that outrageous?  They’re counting on us not comprehending the vast population of our global society. 240,000 children in low income countries alone die each year of neonatal infection. 1.26 million people die each year from diabetes and yet they’re still pushing the high fructose corn syrup in school lunches.

With vaccines, the US went from a .000237 PERCENT death rate  among the general population from measles in 1963 to a 0.000000% measles death rate. It’s a different story around the world though (as the WHO points out scare the crap out of you.) Currently, around 197,000 people die each year from measles… out of 6 billion. Want to know percent that equals? The calculator showed: 3.28e-5.

***pencil scratches on paper, moving the decimal point to the left five places because of the -e***


***calculator clicking***

Which brings the percentage of people who die globally from measles today to:

0.00328%. (Remember when I told you to remember that figure above?)

000237% 0.00328%

So, comparing the two figures, as a country, we Americans did better in 1963 at not dying from measles than the general population of the world is doing RIGHT NOW.

But in fairness to vaccines, when compared to our own progress as a country, we no longer have that .0002% of our population dying of measles. Right?

But I digress, let’s compare measles death rates in 1963 to other death rates in 1963.

In 1963, there were about 450 deaths from measles. Meanwhile, about 12,000 people died from stomach ulcers and the likes.  Just over 43,000 people died from car accidents in 1963. Over 700,000 people died from heart disease.

In 1963, you were more likely to be one of the 9200 people murdered that year than to die of measles. If you were born in 1963, you were more likely to die from a congenital disease than from measles. In 1963, it was about 46 times more likely for a child to die from a congenital malformation than for someone to die from the measles.

Frankly, in 1963, you were about 46 times more likely to kill yourself than you were to die from measles.


“Measles Was Going Away Anyway.”

And at any rate, and I just know this makes pro-vax people upset to hear, measles was already declining prior to the vaccination. The US graphs you can find indicate a huge visual decline, but the way the numbers are set up in the vertical axis is misleading.  Check out how the axis representing the difference between 0 and 1 is represented by the same space as the difference between 2 and 20? I highlighted it in yellow for you.  Another vaccine awareness group added the dotted red line, but I think that the vertical axis manipulation is even more crucial. So, visually, it looks like a huge decline after the vaccine was introduced:

Unfortunately, finding the specific numbers per year has proved challenging for me, but thankfully, I found a similar graph (similar numbers, but unofficial source) that has not included an exponentially growing vertical axis so that you can see the trend in declining measles rates prior to and including after the vaccine introduction more accurately:


See that tiny blip right around 1967? That’s when vaccines “drastically” reduced measles deaths.

So, what if you choose not to vaccinate and your child gets measles?

Well, as early as 1932, doctors began using cod-liver oil (high in vitamin A) to treat measles and ended up lowering the mortality rate significantly.  In 1990, the New England Journal of Medicine confirmed that vitamin A supplements significantly reduce measles complications and death rates.  It would be interesting to know what kind of impact essential oils such as oil of oregano with antiviral qualities or better yet, homeopathy, would have had on measles as well. At the very least though, you don’t have to stress as much, 0.015% mortality rate among measles infected people is just not very scary.


The above article was written only to convey a more accurate picture of the death toll of measles prior to the vaccine. It was not an attempt to change anyone’s decision to vaccinate or not vaccinate. It was to shed light on the actual statistics. See. I wrote it at a time when parents were being told how deadly measles is by using articles that cited worldwide measles death rates as though those represented the likelihood of death rates in the United States.
Measles infections were going away, but I was not clear in my explanation, because it was not the focus of the article. Death rates were. Plus, I believed it was glaringly obvious since I was specifically discussing population growth when examining deaths from measles. I’d like to address my claim now that it is apparent that people are also interested in how I could state that measles infections were on their way out.
The CDC uses the number of cases, as opposed to the rate of cases of measles infections, making no attempt to adjust for the drastic population growth in the decade just before the first vaccine was licensed: The Baby Boom. In addition, they do not address the historic 2-3 year cycle of measles.
Our population rose from 139.9M in 1945 to 189.5M in 1963:  That’s almost FIFTY MILLION new Americans. Greater than an additional 1/3 of the population was added to the U.S., but it is not even considered when presenting measles data.
In 1958, we saw a large spike in the actual  number measles cases (nearly 800K), that is true.  This would be expected, given that the Baby Boomers were highly susceptible because they were children, previously unexposed and almost exclusively fed formula (and did not get measles antibodies during infancy from their mothers’ milk.)  After that spike, we would expect to see another spike in two to three years, because that is the historic cycle. But that never happened. The number of cases held at around the 400K level, despite the population continuing to increase.
Though the first measles vaccines (which was deemed a failure in ability to create antibodies) was not licensed until the later part of the measles season on the sixth year of the cycle, there was still no major spike. The next measles vaccine was licensed near the end of that measles season that same year. Meanwhile, in the five year span between the 1958 spike and the first vaccines, the population grew by 14.6 million.
In 1957, the AAP’s new committee on nutrition released the new guidelines that doctors would use. In 1958 and 59, when almost every single baby was drinking formula instead of breastmilk, commercial infant formulas were finally fortified with iron.  In 1960, Miles Laboratory developed Chocks, the first chewable multivitamin aimed at children. Flinstones followed shortly thereafter. In January of 1961 Kennedy’s first executive order mandated that the USDA donations to the poor include a variety of fresh foods rather than whatever was at a surplus that year. Later, that same year, the USDA was required to donate foods to schools for children who could not afford food. Kennedy continued to support initiatives that helped the poor and minorities until his death in November 1963. The work he began continued after his death. In 1964, President Johnson launched the “War on Poverty.” 1964 brought on the “Food Stamp Act.” Medicare and Medicaid were offered to Americans in 1965. Additionally, by 1965 the proportion of people living in poverty decreased by about 1/3 when compared to the numbers in 1950.
Another great way to show that measles cases had been declining is to look at military records. They used actual rates, kept great records and focused in one one specific age range. In the Civil War,  which was in the 1860, the cases reported were 32.2 per 1000 person years.  The rate drops to 26.1 in the Spanish American War. During World War I, it was 23.8.  And in the second world war, it was down to 4.7 per 1000 man years. It was the same rate decline in the Royal Navy records as well, which recorded a little differently, but still showed a decline.  In WWI, the rate of measles was 16.0 per patients admitted for the entire duration. In WWII, the case rate was 2.9 per patients admitted.





  1. Rebecca

    I’m always suspicious when someone cuts out a large portion of a figure. Sure enough, the original chart shows a 90% decline in measles deaths in the decade immediately following the introduction of the vaccine.


    And those are just the deaths from measles. There are other complications, including brain damage. And measles disproportinately impacts children in poor families where nutrition and access to emergency medical care is less. Are you for economic justice, or against it?

    Maybe it feels okay to you to lie about this topic, because it’s not your kid that’s dying from a preventable disease.

    • Dawn Babcock Papple

      Excuse me? I am not lying. Did you read it? LOOK at the vertical axis… and what that 90% equates to in numbers. I didn’t CUT OUT anything. All my facts are upfront and honest. I understand the comfort you may feel in accusing a random blogger of lying or manipulating figures. But I am not the one manipulating anything. Look closer at the vertical axis numbers, because you HAVE fallen victim to deception, but NOT mine Rebecca.

      • Dawn Babcock Papple

        Furthermore, the measles deaths stats actually include deaths from measles complications as well. I know because I used the numbers that the WHO and CDC are presenting which include measles and measles complications.

        Also, they can’t assume that if the US had a huge measles outbreak that the same proportion of people will die now. As it is, during measles outbreaks in the US that they talk about to scare the crap out of us… nobody ever dies.

  2. Abigail Blackshire

    The focus of your post is on death from measles but you do not address the complications. A huge number of people may not have died from measles but there is a much greater number of people that faced a lifetime of limitations from the fevers and infection. Seizures, mental incapacitation and other complications significantly effected quality of life for the next sixty years, which is why so many mothers were rightfully fearful of their children contracting measles.

    • Dawn Babcock Papple

      Now, THAT is a true argument and a very good point. The reason I didn’t focus on everything is because as it is, a post is supposed to take up two hours max of my time (this one was the better part of ten+ hours when you factor in research) and I needed to find a focal point. The focal point was how facts are realigned and misrepresented to scare us. Eventually, I will compile all of my data into a lengthy manuscript, but for now, each post has to have a focal point. This wasn’t about whether or not you should get vaccinated. It was simply, before you make the decision, you should see through the propaganda and deliberate misrepresentation of facts to get a clear understanding. I hope that helps you understand my reasoning.
      I myself may be vaccinating my daughter, but not until just before she comes of age to bear children. I do understand complications and feel that with homeopathy, nutrition, and herbal remedies I have good odds in the event my child got measles. In the meantime, her brain is still developing and I do not trust people who so clearly misrepresent facts to tell me that there are almost no complications to these vaccines. And so I will wait until her body can better handle toxins.

      • Dawn Babcock Papple

        In my defense though, I also didn’t mention vaccine deaths or complications either… which I could have. I wanted to stick to definitive facts. You can see more about it in Jenn’s link below.

        Also in theory: “Chronic tendencies, such as recurring respiratory infections, often heal after measles. Chronic health problems disappear, such as psoriasis or chronic kidney problems. The children’s hospital in Basel (Switzerland) used to get children with chronic kidney infections to contract measles intentionally in order to heal them, up until the 1960s. Children susceptible to infections are healthier and stronger after contracting measles; the need for medical treatment clearly decreases. Children in the Third World countries are less likely to contract malaria and parasites after measles. The risk to suffer breast cancer decreases to less than half. MS is also much lower in people who had measles. Hay fever is more rare in children who have older siblings and had measles than in those who were vaccinated against measles. A large African study showed that children who have had measles are 50% less at risk from allergies than those vaccinated. Furthermore it is shown that experiencing measles protects from diseases of the immune system, skin diseases as well as degenerative cartilage, bone and tumorous diseases.” — Anita Petek-Dimmer http://is.gd/099EwM

        So, measles comes with many benefits that can’t be negated either. I didn’t mention THOSE up there either, trying to stay focused on the primary goal of the post. How many people die of cancer now that wouldn’t have if they had ONLY been able to contract measles when they were children? Speculation is possible, but I like to stay away from speculation, even when it benefits my perspective… http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/7393527.html

        Also, people point out that children with cancer cannot get the vaccines and we put their lives at risk by not vaccinating, but in actuality, measles seems to have a positive side effect of putting cancers into remission as noted above.

        We do still have to worry about children with transplants, but essentially, in all the previous cases of outbreaks, we have managed to keep them contained. In addition, despite the fact that there are many thousands of transplants and even more cases of HIV, measles outbreaks that have happened in the US modern times have not affected the ZERO PERCENT mortality rate.

        But, like I said, I like to stick with only facts, not theories, so I didn’t touch on any of these points just as I did not touch on the complications factor that can not even be speculated on in the US with our modern medical technology.

  3. Angie

    Ugh, don’t worry about what a mathematically challenged “my-doctor-knows-everything-so-vaccines-rock”er thinks.

    I read and researched every last bit of this post and found zero factual inaccuracies. You are 100% correct in every observation. And high five for presenting the truth instead of accepting vaccines as safe.

    No poison for my kids.

  4. anon

    Vaccines promote public health, a large portion of that being promotion of population health. Remember health isn’t simply about mortality, but also morbidity. Your article gives no specifics on the ability of a vaccine to decrease morbidity in a population and is thus incomplete. I understand you don’t have the ability to make many points in one blog – but if you are going to be forceful in your view, at least mention the surrounding issues, it gives you greater credibility.

    • Dawn Babcock Papple

      Thankfully, there are lost of post possibilities on every blog. This is just ONE blog post. I chose this one point for this one blog. Since writing is my profession, I understand how long a blog post generally can be while keeping people’s attention. I understand staying focused is crucial. I appreciate your understanding that I want to keep a focal point, however, even mentioning other areas, such as risks of measles, means that I would also have to touch on risks of vaccines. I preferred to keep all theories completely out of this equation. Believe me though, no pro-vaxer wants me to start touching on these in any detail. I’ve highlighted some things in some of the comments above… in response to some posts.

      I am sorry you feel that my blog post lacks credibility. I felt that sticking to a focal point where I could use completely solid facts presented very blatantly, would actually add to my credibility. I don’t like how either side uses speculation presented as fact.

      Like I mentioned above, I similarly didn’t touch on vaccine deaths either…. this post wasn’t about all of that. It was simply my response to a despicable act of dishonest presentation to the public on the part of government agencies.

      • Dawn Babcock Papple

        Besides, what would you have me say? Possible complications is very subjective, mortality is not. There is no way for me to conclusively remark on complication severity.

        If I had to, it would go something like this:
        Measles is generally a fairly harmless predominantly childhood disease. As with all disease, (as well as all vaccines and medications and actions in life) there are possible complications. The possible complications of measles include pneumonia, seizures and encephalitis. Encephalitis seems to occur in about 0.03% of all measles cases. Of those 0.03% of measles encephalitis cases, between 20-40% will be left with lasting damage. This means that a max of about 0.01% of all measles cases will result in lasting damage. It should be noted that on the adverse reactions that are listed by MERCK for the MMRII vaccine in their disclosure info, any reaction that is less than 1% was not formally declared.

        Seizure and encephalitis happen to be possible complications of the vaccine for the disease though to a lower degree than from the wild disease.

        Positive side effects of acquiring measles include possible remission of lymphomas and other cancers as well as the potential to significantly reduce auto-immune disease breast cancer and ovarian cancer rates, perhaps other cancers as well. Conversely, according to the MERCK full disclosure, carcinogenic and mutinagenic INDUCING capabilities of the MMRII vaccine have never been tested. Nor has it’s potential to effect fertility.

        Because THAT’s what I would have written if I would have touched on the evidence that I can find in the National online Medical library.

        • Felicity england

          So an absence of evidence of risk (of the vaccine) is worse than actual evidence of risk (of the wild disease). What… Really? Surely you see the logical fallacy there.

          Furthermore the rate of measles amongst the unvaccinated in western countries is many many times higher in the unvaccinated than in the vaccinated. The rate of complication is also much higher amongst the unvaccinated. In the US the rate of hospitalization from measles (which occurs much more frequently amongst the unvaccinated) is close to 50%.

          Not vaccinated against measles increases your risk of an adverse event, increases your risk of hospitalization and increases your risk of death.

          This is both a health as well as an economic and health resource issue (it costs money and takes people’s time to deal with hospitalized cases).

          • Dawn Babcock Papple

            No, I didn’t say that at all. There is not an absence of evidence of risk of vaccines, it’s printed plainly on their inserts with the vaccines.

            ALSO, the reader didn’t ask about rate of hospitalization, she asked about long term consequences. Hospitalization is not a long term consequence.

            I’ve been hospitalized for a couple of things before.

            Not vaccinating against measles increases your risks of measles and measles complications. It also has shown to decrease your risk of certain cancers, autoimmune diseases and other ailments. It also for sure increases risks economics.

            Vaccinating against measles increases your risks of vaccine related complications. It also decreases your natural immune system and is not fully understood or tested on a number of huge factors like fertility and cancer.

            I’m not telling anyone what to do. Or which is worse. I just wrote out the facts.

          • Felicity england

            You say”hav never been tested”. That is clearly a lack of evidence.

            You talk about a perceived posibble threat and equate it to a completely known one.

            Once again it comes down to which one is safer. The vaccine or the disease. The vaccine is safer and has major benefits, so why not use it?

  5. Felicity england

    Several factual errors in the blog. The biggest one being that “measles was going away anyway”. Your graphs say no such thing. They say mortality from measles was decreasing. No one had ever denied that. Mortality decreased mainly through better medical intervention (modern big farmer type medical intervention). However incidence did not decrease significantly.

    However incidence did decrease after vaccination.

    How on earth you can say several hundred children dying and thousands more being maimed for life is no big deal is beyond me. The risk of the vaccination is minuscule compared to the disease. Why let several hundred children die. It is OK just because the population is large so the percentage is small?

    The misinterpretation of statistics and the misleading information above would be hilarious, if it wasn’t for the children dying because of it.

    • Felicity england

      What you need to do is show conclusive, independent, peer reviewed proof that the vaccine is more dangerous than the disease. All the available evidence on relative risk and risk benefit show the vaccination is much preferable to the disease. This evidence is abundant, and unless you subscribe to conspiracy theories that involve multiple organisarions and thousands of researchers is hard to contradict.

      • Dawn Babcock Papple

        I do not need to do that, because I’m not arguing which is more dangerous. My argument and focal point is that our gov’t refuses to show us an accurate depiction of measles. I’m not downplaying measles. I’m accurately portraying measles, which happens to be less dangerous than we are led to believe.

        • Felicity england

          You say that measles was going away anyway, which is wrong, then you say the reaction to the epidemic is overplayed.

          Both are incorrect. People suffer from measles in the long term. People die from it. There is a safe way to reduce that risk.

          The only reason for not vaccinating against a known risk if the risk of vaccinating was higher. It isn’t. So unless you show that your article is a falling house of cards. There isn’t an over reaction, there is a considered public health policy that will cheaply and safely reduce a known risk.

          • Dawn Papple

            Obviously, you didn’t bother to actually look at the graphs you were pointed towards. Measles was going away.

            You say, “There is a safe way to reduce that risk.” Safe is relative. Have you ever read VAERS reports? Maybe go type in MMR and then read some of the reports on the VAERS site. The link is provided above. Then you can come back and let me know how safe it is.

            Many people feel that taking “natural risks” is more comfortable than taking “man induced risks.” This is a personal choice, and not yours or mine to make for people.

            Since there are risks that do seem to out weigh the benefits, if you bothered to actually look at the charts provided by the other readers, you might see what we mean.

            Also, you mentioned that I said untested, you must also understand that the fact that the risks of vaccines being so untested IS absurd and doesn’t imply no consequence. It implies no body bothered to look at long term consequences. That does not imply safety. That is negligence. Our drugs should not be mandated unless t hey have been tested in every area, including carcinogenic and mutinagenic capabilities and on fertility. Those are HUGE risk factors. ANd the graphs seem to indicate that they are in fact not safe like you assert.

            But to carry on this conversation intelligently, you will need to actually LOOK at the information I am talking about. I HAVE looked at the information from both sides.

    • Dawn Babcock Papple

      The original graph also showed measles going away. The other poster provided a link to the first skewed vertical axis graph with the incidences as well. Incidences DID decrease after the vaccine, but at a statistically pointless rate given the actual NUMBER of cases compared to the population. Examine if you will, as I proposed above the actual NUMBERS on the vertical axis.

      I didn’t say several hundred thousand people dying is no big deal. I said it’s not as bad as they try to make you think. The reason one MAY want to let several thousand people die is if the risks outweigh the benefits. I am not for getting rid of vaccines for the record. I am for getting rid of scare tactics though.

      Before you accuse me of misrepresenting, I would very much appreciate it if you would consider these things and actually look at the deceptive graph that we are presented with compared to the visually honest graph.

    • Felicity
      The article is clear. It’s all about putting the vaccine effort into historical perspective. The vaccine had little if anything to do with the demise of measles as a killer. End of story.

      About incidence…. you are stretching things. For a start, that wasn’t the topic of focus. Secondly, where is the incidence data? I think you are referring to ‘notifications’, which are certainly no proxy for incidence, especially in the case of measles. Why don’t you find the data and write it up?

      Dawn’s blog focused on mortality, and did a damned good job of it. Sure, it shows the vaccine in a less favourable light than we are used to seeing, but it is factually correct. Let’s face it, for years we have believed all the romantic stories of how we were saved from this killer disease by a magic bullet.

      • Dawn Babcock Papple

        Thanks again Greg.

        Again, I am not anti-vax. I am not pro-vax.

        I am pro- critical thinking and accurate statistical analysis though. I can’t help it if the statistics that have been shoved in my face my whole life were deceptive. And I am allowed to be angry about the deception.

        The deception either A.)insinuates that someone believes I am not intelligent enough to make a decision based on accurate presentation or B.)indicates that my government is trying to manipulate my choices through scare tactics.

        I do not approve of scare tactics… not from either side.

        • Felicity england

          Greg, measles is still a killer a big one. One of the biggest killers of children in the world.

          The reason for the lowering of mortality in the developed world was due to modern medical intervention in measles cases.

          Despite this even in the western world people die from measles, and people suffer life long from measles. There is also a large economic loss due to leasles outbreaks.

          There is a safe way to reduce all that.

          The vaccination is safer, cheaper and better than the wild disease.

          • Dawn Papple

            I seriously don’t think you even read the blog, because I don’t get how with the percentage rates of total deaths verses measles deaths, you can claim such a hugeness of mortality. I guess, because the words “one of the biggest” is so open ended…. I prefer to stick with numbers, as I did above.

            Also, economic factors that need to be taken into consideration are also the economic factors of us funneling such an enormity of cash into the pharmaceutical companies pockets. Drug companies are so absurdly wealthy it is disgusting.

            “taking off work” should not be a factor especially when the BENEFITS of getting the measles in regards to killing off cancer cells, boosting immunities and encouraging long term health benefits is so high. Just LOOK at how much money they make off of our vaccinations.

            While prescription drug sales are forecast to rise by a third in five years, vaccine sales should double, from $19 billion last year to $39 billion in 2013, according to market research firm Kalorama Information. That’s nearly five times the $8 billion in vaccine sales in 2004.

  6. leanne

    The government claim of 1 death per 1,000 measles cases which you question is NOT from 1963 when you state there were millions of cases prior to the vaccine and use to challenge their numbers – that measure of 1 death per 1,000 cases of measles is from data from 1971-1975, *after the vaccine* when there were only 35,000 or so cases per year (Am J Public Health 1980; 70:1166-1169). So it is unfair to compare your 1963 stats with their 1970’s stats and then insinuate they’re wrong, or worse yet, lying… In NIH 2007 article they openly say the rate of death per case at that time in developed nations was “less than” one per thousand. They also openly acknowledge that the risk of death is highest in children with malnutrition and Vitamin A deficiency. They also note that “The decline in mortality from measles in developed countries was associated with economic development, improved nutritional status and supportive care, and antibiotic therapy for secondary bacterial pneumonia, as well as the widespread use of measles vaccine.” (Moss, 2007), That seems to give fair credit to a number of variables, only the last of which is the vaccine and which corresponds to your point that both incidence and death from measles was already in decline at the time mass vaccination began.

    Which leads to my second point, that I *do* think your pointing out the misleading “graphing” of the data compelling and important to point out – they didn’t “lie” with the data – but the data is definitely organized and presented in a way as to be misleading to the general person’s eye with respect to the relative *impact* of the vaccine on incidence, death and public health in the decade prior to and after mass vaccination began in North America.

    I also think it’s prudent to consider the established variables that may or may not contribute to the relative need or desire for vaccination of any particular child – issues like poverty, nutritional status, immune-system and/or respiratory system status, Vitamin A deficiency, access to medical care, travel to developing nations and/or exposure to people who travel to developing nations, all contribute to whether or not measles is likely to result in catastrophic and/or mortal consequences. There is not magic formula for any and all children that can say for any one particular child vaccination is a greater risk or measles is a greater risk – each child inherently in their unique living conditions, state of health, and access to resources will have a differing ratio of risk. Public health policies – at the community level, state level, federal level, and world level, all take into account different “majority profiles” when determining the risk management policies they work within. Parents take into account the balance of the variables of the particular community within which they live (as narrow or as broad as they choose to conceptualize “community”) as well the variables of their particular child and family. Mass vaccinations in Western Africa may be of significant benefit whereas vaccination may be of no relative benefit in comparison to risk for one particular child of a well-resourced family in North America with good nutritional and health status and access to health care. For example, one might note that the death rate of measles since 2001 (at least) in the US is ZERO. Even the vast majority of the cases in the United States- for example 105/118 cases reported in early 2011 – were UNVACCINATED children, many infants too young for the vaccination and more susceptible biologically to more severe illness than older children… and still only 10-15% required hospitalization, primarily for secondary infections effectively treated in hospital. Whereas, the death rate is 10-25% in Western and Sub-Saharan African countries. Context matters.

    *** William J. Moss is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Epidemiology, International Health, and Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America.

    • Dawn Papple

      I agree on all of those points, except that consistently the numbers from then and now, in all the govt’t agencies information likens then AND now to a death rate of about 1/1000. I have seen it say “less than 1/1000.” However, the stats from BOTH then and now liken it to closer to 1/10000. However, when talking about stats, “then than 1/1000” is not a fair or honest description of what is actually very near consistently, through all time periods when I divided things about 1/10000. Currently in the US, the death rate is absolutely zero. Likewise, the rate of long term complications in the US has consistently been zero in the modern US healthcare system.

      Lies come in many forms and include intent. Their intent IS to scare. You, of all people, certainly cannot disagree that that is their point.

      We have literature from the gov’t and the academy that point blank teaches doctors HOW to “scare” parents that are on the fence.

      Also, while, you and I are both capable of finding the more detailed literature, the lies I speak of aren’t in the “detailed” literature where they discuss vitamin & modern health care changes. The lies are the ones that are in their anti-anti-vax education pages.

      And, the death rate for EVERYTHING is much higher in sub-saharan countries. So, of course. That just implies EVEN MORE though that when our CDC and our pediatricians try to use the “world stats” as though they would be the same as “our” stats, it’s also a lie. And I didn’t even touch on that topic up there, though I considered it. I didn’t because I wanted to stick simply with numbers and not assumptions.

      Had I included my own more advanced critical thinking, this article would have been FAR more detrimental to the pro-vax cause. I didn’t want to do that though because I do NOT WANT TO BE anti-vax. And I don’t want to be the voice for the anti-vax movement.

      My children are MOSTLY vaccinated. I’ve never EVER said they weren’t. Ayla can not get the MMR though… and quite frankly, I am super glad, because in light of what I’ve learned from this, there are many HUGE health benefits of not getting the MMR, just as there are benefits of getting it. I hate playing the calculated odds game though and having to make a decision, so I am very thankful that my daughter’s allergy took this decision out of the equation, because from what I can see, it’s a VERY close call.

      I do want to be the voice for the “sick of our government trying to mislead us” movement though.

      • Felicity england

        But nothing in your article is actua
        Ly showing the government is misleading us. It shows a lack of understanding of epidemiology and probably a lack of understanding of statistics and analysis, but what it doesn’t show is any government based misleading leading of the public.

        Measles is a problem, a fairly large one. The estimated costs of the measles worldwide is astronomical. Yet you try and inappropriately use a graph on mortality to deduce it isn’t a big problem.

        The cost and benefit of the vaccine is clear. Why is it misleading to say this real and present threat can be reduced by this safe and effective treatment?

          • Dawn Papple

            “Billions in government grants are bringing better, faster ways to develop and manufacture vaccines. Rising worldwide emphasis on preventive health care, plus the advent of the first multibillion-dollar vaccines, have further boosted their appeal.” (http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/business/2009/11/30/vaccine_revolution.ART_ART_11-30-09_A10_7NFQQE7.html)

            Imagine if those same billions went to an even earlier simpler preventative… providing proper nutrition to our nation’s poor children. Or even subsidizing healthier food than “corn” which we subsidize now so that healthy foods can be less expensive.

            At any rate, I’m not trying to convince anyone not to get vaccines. I just don’t believe they should be mandated and I don’t believe scare tactics should be implemented to try to sway a mother who wishes not to vaccinate.

            Parents who vax without question never see this other side, they usually don’t believe the amount of pressure and shame and scare tactics the majority of doctors will implement to make sure a woman vaccinates her children. I challenge each of them to simply say, “I’ve read research on possible side effects of vaccines and possible benefits of contracting diseases like measles.” Then see their demeanor change. Think of it as a social experiment.

  7. Kristie

    Hi, I am amazed at how you have been attacked for making this blog. I am not even sure that these people are not employees of pharmaceutical companies. or other people paid just to try to misinform people. I have 4 kids and I will not give them vaccines. My kids are very healthy and I plan to keep them that way as long as I can. Thank you for making this blog. Please keep up the good work, you are reaching people, and that is very important. Please dont let these “trolls” affect they way you do your work. Anyone that does research can clearly see that with the inventions and uses of running water, including hot water, washing machines, soaps that disenfect and are cheap, functioning sewer systems, and cleaner drinking water our illness have decreased. Then if you figure in the adverse reactions from the vaccines such as deaths and permanant injuries, the risk seems higher to get ill from the vaccine. And if they were so safe why does the govenment have the vaccine injury compensation fund, which is a huge portion of the cost of the shot.

    I did have one question for you, on the bottom of the blog it is about what to do if you did not vaccinate and your child gets measles,, I think the better question is what happens if you did vaccinate and your child gets the measles, why and what do you do then?

    Have a great day, and keep up the good work.

  8. vmv

    Thanks for the informative blog. I was born in 1944 and was the second of 9 children. When I was growing up, I don’t remember anyone worrying about the measles. It was considered a normal childhood disease–and once you had it, you didn’t worry about getting it again. One of your commenters (Rebecca) said that it disproportionately impacts children in poor families. I’d just like to say that I was from a very poor family, but it didn’t make a difference. (We had good enough nutrition–better than children today, because most of the food we had was homemade, without preservatives.)
    In regard to the MMR vaccine and autism, a survey of parents in 2005-2006 found a significant association of acetaminophen with autism when acetaminophen (Tylenol) was given to children after a measles-mumps-rubella vaccination. (I wonder why this is not headline news!)

  9. vmv

    I have an additional comment: “Kristie” asked what to do if your child does get the measles. I just read an article from “ThinkTwice Global Vaccine Institute” regarding measles. It did point out the importance of vitamin A (as mentioned in your blog). Another VERY IMPORTANT point is that in a study in Afghanistan, children with measles who were given aspirin to reduce fever had more prolonged illness, more complications, and a significantly higher mortality rate than children who were not given a fever reducer (antipyretic). A study in Africa had similar results–children given fever reducing medication had a higher mortality rate. http://thinktwice.com/measles.htm
    (Logically, this is because reducing a fever interferes with the normal course of the disease. A fever is the body’s way of fighting a disease.)

  10. AAR

    VMV has a good point.

    I know many elderly people who grew up or had familys during the measles outbreaks. None of them make a big deal about them. It was just another disease. Another sickness that may or may not attack a person.

    Iook at the increasing amounts of people who are now “scared” of the chicken pox and now get the vaccine (not saying that it’s the same as measles just pointing out a comparison). Even when I was a child, almost everyone got the chicken pox and there were no vaccines for it then…or at least widely used that I’m aware of. I remember having the chicken pox. And I don’t remember hearing all sorts of crazed things about it then. Yes, there were deaths and complications. Same for the common cold and flu.

    Anyway, these days, people are a little more freaked out about chicken pox.
    I’ve heard teenagers say that they would be “afraid” if they knew somone with the pox because they were “Afraid to die”.

    We also have to remember how our media hypes things up beyond proportions sometimes. I’m sure it wasn’t any different then. And now, with our media the way it is, why wouldn’t they look back during a that time when measles was more common and make a big deal about it. They make a big deal about everything.

  11. Karl

    See Roger Barkin- Barkin, R. M. (Bureau of Epidemiology, CDC, Atlanta, GA 30333). Measles mortality: A retrospective look at the vaccine era.Am J Epidemiol102:341–349, 1975. Compares pre & post vaccne mortality rates.

    Behind a paywall online but available through libraries.

    Death to case ratio 1/10,000, wildly skewed by poverty and lack of health care. Highest rates below the mason / dixon line, think pre-civil rights south, appalachia and urban slums. In WA state the rate was 0 – 3 deaths / year with 2.6 mil population. Measles can be a dangerous disease to the undernourished, underhoused, without access to a pediatrician. Antibiotic usage prevents virtually all complications in healthy subjects. y the 50’s a suburban kid with a bathroom, hot lunch and family doc had very low mortality rate.

    The origin of the “1 in 1,000 deaths”, is that measles case reporting had fallen post WW2 because Measles had become a routine childhood illness, like chicken pox and mumps were. Thus you will often hear ‘Before the vaccine 500k per year got sick and 500 died”. But the math doesn’t work. from 1950 to mid 60’s the birthrate was average 4 million/year, adding to the susceptible pool. If only 500k were getting infected then measles has only a 12.5% infection rate, and 3.5 million were uninfected each year. So either measles has a near universal infection, with waves occurring every 3 to 5 years infecting 4 to 8 million, and the 250 to 500 annual mortalities, or

    If measles was ripping its way through middle america then why was this media campaign needed?
    This paper admits to using third world stats even then to justify the usage, not much has changed


    See the Brady Bunch, season 1, episode 13, “is there a doctor in the house”, available from netflix for the true suburban kid measles experience. “Bobby to Greg- What is the best thing about measles- 1 week off school”. hint- nobody dies.

    MMR alone causes a sezure 1/3500 doses, MMR & Varicella in the same visit causes a seizure 1/2500 doses, and the MMRV Pro Quad has a seizure rate of 1/1250 doses. 1/3 of thoses have more seizures, up to 9% develop some form of epilepsy. Page downplays the discomfort of a seizure and potential damage. Normal emergency room treatment for a first seizure is a spinal tap to rule out viral meningitis. Please do your research and keep the Varicella away from the MMR shot.

    • Karl

      Edit paragraph 4- or measles only infects 12.5% of those exposed. So the common vaccine proponent statement that I have heard at several public hearings

      “Measles is virtually universally contagious to anyone not immune, lingering in empty examination rooms for hours after the patient leaves”, and “before the vaccine 500k were infected and 500 died every year” can’t all be true, unless the “500k infected” is clarified to mean “500k reported infected”.

      Near universal infection rates of a disease with a 1/1000 mortality rate in a population adding 4 million susceptibles every year would have been 4,000 deaths per year. Actual mortality rates, which are reliable, were nowhere near that.

      Barkins notes morbidity estimates ranging from 2 million to over 6 million a year

      “In 1958-1963, the National Center for Health Statistics estimated that 6.5 million cases occurred
      annually. A part of the overestimates result from the difficulty in distinguishing between measles and other rash diseases by household interview techniques.”

      The healthier the patient, the less severe the symptoms, to the point where diagnosis was dificult to make. When my siblings and I had it a couple of us got sick, but one sister had only a mild fever for a day was immune for life after.

      Barkins conclusion in his paper was not mandatory mass vaccination

      ” The primary goal of measles vaccination should be the prevention of measles cases, but perhaps even more importantly, a reduction in complications secondary to measles. Certainly, vaccine should be accessible to all populations, but more intensive efforts need to be directed toward high-risk groups
      who are no doubt suffering from a myriad of social and economic problems and in all likelihood have the least accessibility to adequate health care.”

      So what else was occurring during the 60’s that could account for reduced mortality, besides the vaccine? President Johnson’s War on Poverty and the civil rights act. Health care was being delivered to populations who previously had no access due to economics or racial prejudice, as well as improvements in housing, sanitation, etc. on a school not seen since the hygene movement of the early century.

      A poster above cites that the 1/1000 death rate is not from the pre-vaccine era, but post 1970.

      What are the implications of that increase? Has vaccination somehow morphed measles into a much more deadly disease? Are people who have been vaccinated yet still susceptible now at a vastly increased risk of mortality if they do contract measles? Are the people dying after 1970 the sames ones who would have died before the vaccine was available , but with morbidity levels down the disease just looks more dangerous?

      In a recent measles outbreak in Europe the medical community, apparently all younger than I, were astonished at the lack of mortality or even serious complications.

      • Dawn Babcock Papple

        NO, what’s happening is when they state figures, they say it’s “approx.” You can search (and I did) public record to find out actual deaths. And it’s FAR closer to 1/10000.

  12. Karl

    Public Health Canada publishes weekly reports and says that

    “An adverse event following immunization (AEFI) is any unwanted medical reaction following
    immunization. The majority of adverse events are not serious and include soreness, swelling or
    redness at the injection site, fever, rash, headache or muscle aches and pains.

    A serious adverse event following immunization is any adverse event that is life-threatening,
    or results in death, requires hospitalization, prolongs an existing hospitalization or results in residual

    Serious adverse events following immunization are rare. In any immunization campaign, from
    regular childhood vaccines to seasonal flu shots, the reported rate of serious adverse events is on
    average about 1 case for every 100,000 doses distributed.

    The 1 in 100,000 rate is based on tens of millions of vaccine doses distributed over several years.
    This rate is based on the administration of several different types of vaccines, some of which have
    higher or lower rates of adverse events. Rates can also vary by age.

    The average rate of serious adverse events, which is 1 per 100,000 doses distributed, has been
    calculated based on several years of data. It is also calculated on completed immunization
    campaigns, when we have total numbers of vaccine adverse events reported, and all
    investigations into serious adverse events have been completed. As final data become available
    and further analyses are conducted, a more meaningful number on the rate of serious adverse
    events will emerge.”

    10 SAE’s /million times the 10 million mmr doses used annually in the US is 100 seriously injured or dead children. Is an injury rate 20 to 25 % of the mortality rate before vaccine acceptable? Especially if you know that this risk was wildly weighted to the already ill? If you read the Barkin paper above you will learn that suburban kid had about a 1/100k 1/300k SAE to case from the disease.

  13. Karl
  14. Excellent post. Thank-you for spending the time it takes to put something like this together, and for being so meticulous in your fact-checking. Also, thank-you for the way you handle comments and criticisms. The time you take to explain calmly and to recognize the concerns of those who disagree gives you much greater credibility than a lot of people who blog about vaccines.

    • Dawn Babcock Papple

      Thank you. It’s easy, because I was once pro-vax. Though I was never rude about it. At any rate, I appreciate the comment. Thank you for taking the time to read it.

  15. I didn’t read through all of the comments but would like to respond to one, which was left anonymously. The comment reads:

    “Vaccines promote public health, a large portion of that being promotion of population health. Remember health isn’t simply about mortality, but also morbidity. Your article gives no specifics on the ability of a vaccine to decrease morbidity in a population and is thus incomplete. I understand you don’t have the ability to make many points in one blog – but if you are going to be forceful in your view, at least mention the surrounding issues, it gives you greater credibility.”

    There is growing evidence that more vaccines equates to increased mortality (death). The U.S. is the most highly vaccinated country in the world, with higher overall rates of vaccination and more vaccines in the recommended schedule than any other nation. Yep. We are Number 1 in the vaccine total. Yet, the U.S. ranks 34th among developed nations when it comes to infant mortality. There are 33 developed nations whose children are more likely to live until age two than their peers in the U.S.


  16. Pingback: Delaying the MMR- Some big issues to consider. — Everything Birth's Blog on Midwifery, Attachment Parenting, Cloth Diapers and More

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