Thanks again, antivaccine activists. Thanks for the measles. Again:

Last year was the worst year for measles in the U.S. in 15 years, health officials said Thursday.

There were 222 cases of measles, a large jump from the 60 or so seen in a typical year. Most of the cases last year were imported — either by foreign visitors or by U.S. residents who picked up the virus overseas.

U.S. children have been getting vaccinated against the measles for about 50 years. But low vaccination rates in Europe and other places resulted in large outbreaks overseas last year.

One notes that this appears to be a disturbing trend over the last few years.

And, yes, Virginia, it was the unvaccinated who were mostly responsible for this uptick in measles cases last year:

Generally, the Americans who got measles last year were not vaccinated. At least two-thirds of the U.S. cases fell into that category, including 50 children whose parents got philosophical, religious or medical exemptions to skip the school vaccinations required by most states, CDC officials said.

Given the news stories, I decided to go to the source, Friday’s MMWR from the CDC, which was published yesterday:

In 2000, the United States achieved measles elimination (defined as interruption of year-round endemic measles transmission) (1). However, importations of measles into the United States continue to occur, posing risks for measles outbreaks and sustained measles transmission. During 2011, a total of 222 measles cases (incidence rate: 0.7 per 1 million population) and 17 measles outbreaks (defined as three or more cases linked in time or place) were reported to CDC, compared with a median of 60 (range: 37-140) cases and four (range: 2-10) outbreaks reported annually during 2001-2010. This report updates an earlier report on measles in the United States during the first 5 months of 2011 (2). Of the 222 cases, 112 (50%) were associated with 17 outbreaks, and 200 (90%) were associated with importations from other countries, including 52 (26%) cases in U.S. residents returning from abroad and 20 (10%) cases in foreign visitors. Other cases associated with importations included 67 (34%) linked epidemiologically to importations, 39 (20%) with virologic evidence suggesting recent importation, and 22 (11%) linked to cases with virologic evidence of recent importation. Most patients (86%) were unvaccinated or had unknown vaccination status. The increased numbers of outbreaks and measles importations into the United States underscore the ongoing risk for measles among unvaccinated persons and the importance of vaccination against measles (3).

We’ve been fortunate thus far in the U.S. in that we haven’t had any really huge outbreaks. Yet. Europe, however, has not been so lucky. In 2011, more than 30,000 cases were reported in Europe, 90% of of which occurred in France, Italy, Romania, Spain, and Germany.

Antivaccinationists will frequently ask why they should vaccinate their children with the MMR vaccine when measles is currently uncommon in the U.S. Of course, the primary reason that measles is so uncommon in the U.S. is because over the last few decades we have been able to maintain a generally high level of vaccine coverage. I would remind them that the U.K. had also achieved measles elimination back in the 1990s. Then Andrew Wakefield came along. With the willing help of sensationalistic British tabloids, he spread the myth that the MMR vaccine causes autism. Within less than a decade, measles came roaring back in the U.K.. It’s now endemic again in the U.K., thanks to plummeting MMR uptake rates. They’ll also ask why it matters to those whose children are vaccinated if they don’t vaccinate their kids. It’s true that vaccination against measles is very good, but it’s not 100% effective. That means that, because measles is such a contagious disease, even a certain percentage of the vaccinated are put at risk by the unvaccinated. Then there are children too young to be vaccinated or who have a medical condition that precludes vaccination. They rely on herd immunity for protection.

Another thing that antivaccine zealots frequently forget is that, like it or not, we live in a global society with a highly mobile population. A highly infectious disease like measles is only a plane ride away, and, in fact, that’s a common way that outbreaks in the U.S. get started. The oceans that we used to look to to isolate us from the rest of the world are no longer any protection against infectious diseases, and, unfortunately, Europe and other areas where antivaccinationists have succeeded in frightening parents to refuse vaccination for their children are now helping to spread the disease globally, including to the U.S. Is Europe a warning for the U.S. regarding measles? It could be. I worry that the U.S. is on the same path as the U.K. and Europe, just five to ten years behind them. If we allow vaccination rates to fall too much, in 2020 it’s not too far-fetched to imagine 30,000 cases a year in North America.

So, once again in light of this sort of news, I have to repeat a sentiment I’ve repeated a few times in the past: Rejoice, Jenny McCarthy, J.B. Handley, Jake Crosby, Kim Stagliano, Dan Olmsted, Barbara Loe Fisher, Dr. Jay Gordon, Dr. Bob Sears, and all the other antivaccine activists (or their willing dupes who oh-so-piously claim they are really and truly “not antivaccine”) spreading misinformation, pseudoscience, and fear about vaccines! You appear to be winning. You’re succeeding in casting doubt on the safety of vaccines to the point that it’s causing real problems for our public health system every time an unvaccinated person travels. And let’s not forget antivaccinationists in other countries, such as John Stone and Jackie Fletcher in the U.K. and Meryl Dorey in Australia. Because this is a global economy and society, it takes a global effort to degrade herd immunity in multiple countries around the world to make sure that measles.

Unfortunately for children, that’s just what we have.


  1. #1 Science Mom
    April 27, 2012

    It’s just as sad the AAP really has nothing on its web sites that is easy to find that specifically as a policy statement condemns any/all alternative schedules, including those that delay and skip vaccines.

    @ Dr. Hickie, that is because the AAP doesn’t condemn alternate vaccine schedules and has a bioethics statement regarding dismissal from a practice should be a last resort:

    A few months ago I wrote the state AAP (AzAAP) chapter and they forward my letter to AAP headquarters where I actually did get to talk to their media relations director and then President Block, who was the one who told me of AAP fears of being sued for defamation of character if they publicly denounced Sears or Gordon. I suggested they at least consider denouncing their schedules as a simple matter of fact on their web site and he told me it would be looked into, but that was over 2 mos ago and nothing has happened and no one has contacted me since, so I can mostly assume nothing will happen.

    If they told you that then I believe that’s a load of bollocks. They have published Dr. Offit’s skewering of Sears in Pediatrics after all. My guess is that they don’t want to directly attack “one of their own”. Your assumption that nothing will happen is probably correct.

  2. #2 Kelly M Bray
    April 27, 2012

    Throw out a family may be a last resort, but when you get to that point it should be used. I don’t want unvaccinated kids around mine, especially in the sick waiting area.

  3. #3 Chris Hickie
    April 27, 2012

    Science Mom, My impression is the AAP was happy to publish Offit & Moser because it was Offit & Moser criticizing Sears and the AAP was simply providing the forum for discussion (in which Sears did publish his response(s) to Offit & Moser). I pointed out to the director of media relations for the AAP that they had no problem criticizing Wakefield on their web site, and he corrected me, saying the AAP had not directly criticized Wakefield (using instead other’s opinions and findings) and was glad they hadn’t, since Wakefield was now suing for libel everyone who publicly criticized him. This hacked me off because the AAP is essentially admitting it hasn’t the courage of its convictions and relies on others (such as Offit & Moser) to be surrogates for their unpublished opinions.

    I am equally upset given that on the one hand the AAP will not forcefully come out against these alternate schedules, but then on the other tells me I’m not to dismiss families where the parents are barely, if at all, vaccinating their children. It doesn’t seem right that they won’t support pediatricians at one end but then want us to take the risk (because we’re not supposed to dismiss non-vaccinating families) at the other end of an unvaccinated child bringing measles, pertussis or chicken pox into our waiting rooms and infecting the littlest ones with a disease for which they were too young to receive vaccine. I don’t think it’s right they play this both ways. I haven’t dismissed under/non-vaccinating families yet, but given this pertussis death, the consideration of dismissing these families becomes a sad but probably necessary reality to protect the wee ones as vaccination rates continue to plummet.

  4. #4 lilady
    April 27, 2012

    Admittedly, my personal experiences with non-vaccinating parents when my children were infants (born 1970 and 1976), were quite different, than what is being experienced by new parents today.

    Back then, young mothers recalled actually having measles, mumps, rubella and chicken pox infections. Back then, young mothers recalled how they lined up for the Salk polio vaccine. They also recalled the panic experienced by pregnant women who were infected with the rubella virus…during their first trimesters.

    A while back, many of us commented on the present situation of parents “opting out” of vaccines thus putting young infants and kids who have medical contraindications to certain vaccines, at risk in doctor’s waiting and examination rooms.

    At that time, I commented that if I had a very young infant not fully immunized with DTaP vaccine, or a vulnerable medically labile child who could not be immunized with the DTaP MMR or MMR-V vaccines and/or vaccines that protect children against deadly invasive bacterial diseases, I would question the pediatrician intently, about his/her policy regarding non-compliant parents. I also stated that I would “opt out” of any pediatric practice, that deviated from the CDC and the AAP Recommended Childhood Vaccine Schedules…or any pediatric practice that *encouraged* parents to deviate from those Recommendations.

  5. #5 Marry Me, Mindy
    April 27, 2012

    Chris Hickle – it’s not surprising to me that the AAP is silent on members like sears and gordon. Jeez, they wouldn’t even go on the offensive against Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carey!

    I always wondered why the AAP didn’t come out with a statement of how their vaccine policy is determined by worldwide recognized experts in immunology, and not by washed up Playboy models or teo-bit actors.

    What we they afraid of? Insulting the ex-playboy modelcontingent?

  6. #6 Science Mom
    April 27, 2012

    Science Mom, My impression is the AAP was happy to publish Offit & Moser because it was Offit & Moser criticizing Sears and the AAP was simply providing the forum for discussion (in which Sears did publish his response(s) to Offit & Moser).

    Of course, why do the heavy lifting when you can get the resident lightning rod to do it for you? That isn’t a slam on Dr. Offit by the way; quite the opposite. I have grown rather weary of what appears to be the over-use of Dr. Offit as a lightning rod because other authorities are too weasely.

    I pointed out to the director of media relations for the AAP that they had no problem criticizing Wakefield on their web site, and he corrected me, saying the AAP had not directly criticized Wakefield (using instead other’s opinions and findings) and was glad they hadn’t, since Wakefield was now suing for libel everyone who publicly criticized him.

    What another load of bollocks. If that was true, every science blogger and academic who has criticised Wakers (and it’s a long list including our host) would have been sued and they haven’t, just Brian Deer and now BMJ and Dr. Godlee ala Brian Deer.

    This hacked me off because the AAP is essentially admitting it hasn’t the courage of its convictions and relies on others (such as Offit & Moser) to be surrogates for their unpublished opinions.

    Exactly. Given that they are blatantly pandering to the “complimentary and integrative medicine” crowd, I don’t think it’s courage of their convictions that’s their problem, it’s having decent convictions to begin with.

  7. #7 lilady
    April 27, 2012

    Take a look at this Wikipedia entry for the IDSA (Infectious Disease Society of America), under “Lyme disease treatment guidelines”…to see how certain doctors who were treating *chronic Lyme disease*…manipulated Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Attorney General, to bring a lawsuit against the IDSA:

    Doctors who formulated the IDSA Lyme disease treatment guidelines, were threatened by *chronic Lyme disease patients* at their workplace and at public meetings.

    The *so-called* LLMDs (Lyme Literate Medical Doctors) who have treated and continue to treat *chronic Lyme disease* patients with long term IV antibiotics, chelation and HBOT, are free to practice…unless there is a patient-generated complaint or if a patient dies from treatment for *chronic Lyme disease*. Here’s a real bad ass doctor who was already convicted of manslaughter in the death of a patient, and who faces new criminal charges:

    I’m still waiting for the AAP to stand behind their recommendations for timely and complete immunizations according to their own and CDC’s Recommended Childhood Immunization Schedule. Shame on them.

  8. #8 Kelly M Bray
    April 28, 2012

    Lilady, wow. I looked at the link to the fraudulent doctor. I googled the meds he was using. Bismuth salts and weird homeopathic remedies. I could not even find a straight medical reference on most of them. Scary

  9. #9 lilady
    April 28, 2012

    Sorry for the rant. I merely wanted to point out that the IDSA stood their ground…in spite of the onslaught of *Lyme Disease Support Groups*, *LLMDs* and a criminal charge brought against the IDSA by Richard Blumenthal. This is in sharp contrast to the AAP, which is aware of certain doctors (Dr. Jay Gordon M.D., FAAP, Dr. Bob Sears M.D., FAAP…and others), who have *alternative schedules*, are listed as *vaccine friendly doctors* and who encourage parents to make up their *own schedules* for immunizations.

    Yeah, I’ll continue to post on the Ho-Po about childhood immunizations…and if Dr. Bob Sears *allows* my comments to get out of moderation, I’ll nail him, again.

  10. #10 Kelly M Bray
    April 28, 2012

    Lilady, where is a current vaccination thread on HuffPo?

  11. #11 lilady
    April 28, 2012

    You just have to Google under the Huffington Post Header…here’s a listing of Dr. Bob Sears’ articles. See the Sears article about California AB 2109:

    You can also “Google” autism, autism/vaccines, etc.

    Some of the RI regulars also post on the Ho-Po and we often “alert” each other through our posts here on RI.

  12. I’ve been following several scientific blogs recently and have been impressed with the positive and accurate posts published, especially during World Immunization Week. Those posts eventually led me here to read the lively discussion above, which I have thoroughly enjoyed. Then today a friend shared a link on FB to this blog. It baffles me that these individuals believe that pharma companies are vaccinating for financial gain. I know the facts are out there to prove otherwise. I know the science to support vaccinating exists. I also know I’m a nuclear engineer and not a research scientist or physician, so I leave these types of issues to other experts. I was hoping this group could politely point these misinformed moms throwing around anecdotal information in the right direction using the comment section of their post.

  13. #13 Denice Walter
    April 29, 2012

    @ Ashley @ C is for Cockerham:

    I’ve been alerting readers to them since their inception- which was assisted by Age of Autism. I don’t comment on anti-vaccine/ alt med blogs but perhaps someone else here might. I doubt it would do much good- however they may have a few readers who might still be ‘on the fence’.

  14. #14 Chris
    April 29, 2012

    Ashley, we are very familiar with that blog. It would be very nice to show those “moms” the error of their ways, but our experience with these blogs is that comments that go against their beliefs are not approved. Usually it is from the experience with the older “Age of Autism” blog, which is why there are blogs with names like “SilencedByAgeOfAutism.”

    If you look at this blog you will see several dissenting comments. I checked you link, there are no dissenting comments. There is a reason for that.

    Now, there are other things that have been done. The final results turn into:

    5497 likes for:
    1. The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism

    1097 likes for:
    2. Thinking Mom’s Revolution

    687 likes for:
    3. Autismum

  15. #15 lilady
    April 30, 2012

    @ Ashley: That site that you linked to had a chart of “mandatory vaccines”; I enlarged it and “Googled” the web page (, where they got that chart:

    Look at this…directions to make placental chocolate truffles:

    Oh yummy…just when you think the TMR can’t get any whackier…they ally themselves with a chiropractor who provides this recipe.

  16. #16 Kelly M Bray
    April 30, 2012

    “placental chocolate truffles” Just the thought…………

  17. #17 lilady
    April 30, 2012

    Would you believe that you can become a “placental encapsulation specialist”?

    For $295…you too, can be *certified* as a “placental encapsulation specialist”.

    Apparently, you are supposed to ask delivery room staff for your placenta…your partner can then take it home and refrigerate or freeze and call the *certified placental encapsulation specialist* to pick it up. The following day the *CPES* returns with gel capsules filled up with chopped up placenta.

  18. […] ORAC Respectful Insolence April 20, 2012 […]

  19. #19 Science Mom
    May 27, 2012

    I suspect the above comment is going to fetch the author some Insolence very soon.

  20. #20 Narad
    May 27, 2012

    I’ll also add that linkbacks are really irritating in a flow of comments even if, as in this case, it’s amusingly dimwitted. (You can’t believe anything on MDC without… what, vetting by a really bad band? If there’s one thing they do, it’s self-policing, if but of a fashion.)

  21. #21 Narad
    May 27, 2012

    ^ Did someone say something about a newfangled gizmo called “preview”? Bold should be “MDC” alone.

  22. #22 Denice Walter
    On the cliffs, northern hemisphere
    May 27, 2012

    @ Science Mom:

    Oh f@ck! I just read the above and really wonder what they’re talking about- while I can recall a particular commenter talking about posting wildly outre remarks on anti-vax sites, many others objected, saying that we should stick to reality because it’s our strong suit and the best argument. But telling people to claim they or their children have disease injuries when they don’t -that’s just friggin’ ludicrous! There are parents of kids hurt by illness here, IIRC.

    -btw- I never got my scheduled measles vax in the ’60s because I contracted the measles first – while I can’t recall much, my older cousins claim I missed about a month of school – I had to stay in a darkened room, not able to draw, read or write- which I do remember. Awful. I have no idea whether my light sensitivity has anything to do with measles.
    It obviously didn’t hurt my academic record.

    Let me mull over the Refusers’ post a while…. I have resisted making a nasty little jibe based on their name— perhaps I shouldn’t have.

  23. #23 Denice Walter
    May 27, 2012

    Again, denialism relies upon the time-worn strategy of taking quotes and information *out of context*-
    in the post, a commenter who makes certain suggestions is quoted BUT those who think that this ISN’T a great idea are left out of the picture ( i.e, Antaeus, lilady, Liz, Vicki and yours truly)- this might give a false impression about RI.
    To be fair, they do link to the comments section.

    They probably see us as evil faeries, witches, dragons and demons anyway- so what’s the difference?

  24. #24 Science Mom
    May 27, 2012

    DW, I made a comment there that states what you just did. How much would you like to wager that it doesn’t make it out of moderation? Oh and did you get a load of the author Dr. Brownstein? A website full of products to sell you “holistic” health. I doubt any of the followers of that drek would be arsed to read the comments section here.

  25. #25 Kelly M Bray
    The cooler side of Hell.
    May 28, 2012

    @ Denice Walter…..

    “They probably see us as evil faeries, witches, dragons and demons anyway- so what’s the difference?”

    OK. Here is how we see them…..

    How they see us…..

  26. […] is all about the selective quoting as well. For instance, he cites something g724 says in this post. He completely leaves out g724′s suggestions to send lawyer letters to antivaccine bloggers, […]

  27. #27 David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.
    July 15, 2012

    lsm: “Jake is really stretching.”

    Yes. He’s stretching his arsehole. So that he can get every last being of shit out of it for his ‘writing’.

  28. #28 David N. Andrews M. Ed., C. P. S. E.
    in moderation, where a spicy comment about JC lies hidden....
    July 15, 2012

    comment … it’s a good one… as usual 😉

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