A Measles Death, Vaccines, and the Media’s Failure to Inform

by Jul 5, 2015Health & Vaccines19 comments

US media reports on the first confirmed measles death since 2003 treat the subject of vaccines as though there was no discussion to be had. There is.

Last week, it was widely reported in the mainstream media that the autopsy of a woman who died of pneumonia earlier this year in the state of Washington found that she had been infected with measles, making this the first confirmed case of measles-related death in the US since 2003. Playing its usual role, the mainstream media is up in arms, blaming the death on parents who choose not to vaccinate their children and telling parents that to not vaccinate is irresponsible. Rather than journalists doing their job by asking hard questions about public policy and seeking out the answers, they choose to act as nothing more than a mouthpiece for government health departments and dutifully tow the official line on vaccine policy.

The woman who died was not among the unvaccinated. On the contrary, she not only had been vaccinated, but reportedly was tested and found to have a protective antibody titer. She nevertheless became infected with measles while seeking medical attention in a clinic. She died from pneumonia, which can be caused by any number of other bacterial or viral infections besides measles, including the common cold and flu. The reason her immune system couldn’t handle the infection was because doctors had her on immunosuppressive drugs. Hence, medical intervention was a contributing factor in her death.

The media, as ever, is pushing the theory of herd immunity to encourage vaccination. Everyone needs to be vaccinated to protect infants and the immunocompromised, we are being told. The argument implies that the individual from whom the deceased caught the measles was unvaccinated, but that is pure speculation; for all we know, the person she contracted the measles virus from had been vaccinated, too.

It is quite possible for fully vaccinated individuals to get measles.” – Tweet this!

It is quite possible for fully vaccinated individuals to get measles. It is well understood that some people just don’t respond to the vaccine as intended; their immune systems do not produce a great enough amount of antibodies to be considered protective. This is true of about 5 percent of the population, and it’s the reason a second dose, or “booster” shot, is recommended. That second shot is likely unnecessary for most children who did respond to the first, yet it’s given routinely to everyone anyway, even though the purpose is to target the few non-responders. Even after a second dose, however, 3 percent or so of the population still won’t respond.

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Moreover, the vaccine-induced immunity, unlike the more robust immunity gained from natural infection, wanes over time. In fact, the CDC considers birth before 1957 to be “evidence of immunity” to measles for the simple reason that pretty much everyone back then was infected with it as a child and gained lifelong immunity as a result.

Also, the measles vaccine is a live-virus vaccine, and individuals can potentially get the disease from the vaccine as well as shed the virus. Vaccine-strain attenuated live viruses can replicate and revert back into virulent form (which is why they don’t vaccinate immunocompromised individuals) or recombine with other viruses to create novel virulent strains. This means that individuals who have received a live-virus vaccine can potentially catch the disease, as well as transmit the virus to others. This is why the live oral poliovirus vaccine was withdrawn from the market in the US, for example; every single domestic case of polio since 1979 was caused by the vaccine.

The theory of vaccine-induced herd immunity also overlooks natural herd immunity. Measles is a particularly useful example to illustrate the concept. This is what the measles mortality rate looked like before the introduction of the vaccine:

Measles mortality

 

The vaccine was introduced in 1963, after the latest year shown in the above graph from the US Department of Health. Note that the above graph shows deaths from measles, not incidence of measles, which remained high until the introduction of the vaccine:

Measles attack rates and death-to-case ratios, United States, 1912–1997. NCHS, National Center for Health Statistics; NIP, National Immunization Program. (Hinman, et al, Journal of Infectious Disease, Vol 189, 2004)

 

In fact, as already noted, it used to be that nearly everyone was exposed to the virus, usually in childhood, and gained lifelong immunity as a result. The virus was still around, but it was becoming less deadly to the US population due to an improving standard of living, better sanitation and hygiene, better nutrition (e.g., vitamin A is important for reducing measles mortality and decreasing morbidity), advances in health care, and so on.

What the declining mortality rate indicates is that the US population was developing natural herd immunity. We were learning to live in symbiosis with the virus, natural exposure to which not only confers permanent immunity to measles itself, but may help prime the immune system of children to protect against other diseases, as well.

But then along came the vaccine and destroyed that natural herd immunity.

While parents today are trained to have a hysterical fear of measles, back in the 1960s, when the vaccine was introduced, it was recognized as a generally mild disease with infrequent complications. In fact, in the era before the vaccine was introduced, it was accepted doctrine that the population would adapt to live in symbiosis with the virus—a respect for the balance of nature that was quickly discarded with the development of the vaccine.

The concept of “herd immunity” today is universally associated with the use of vaccines, but this is an application of the concept in fact borrowed from the observance of natural herd immunity to disease. In the case of measles, researchers in the 1930s—long before the vaccine existed—observed that epidemics in Baltimore occurred in predictable cycles and only when the level of immunity in affected communities was less than 55 percent (far below the 95 percent or so level of vaccination hypothesized to provide herd immunity with vaccination).

Now since nearly everyone is vaccinated at an early age, they don’t become infected with the disease in childhood and hence don’t develop the more robust permanent immunity conferred by natural infection.

The kind of immunity conferred by vaccines is not the same as that conferred by natural infection.” – Tweet this!

The kind of immunity conferred by vaccines is not the same as that conferred by natural infection. Vaccines favor an antibody response while actually suppressing what is known as cell-mediated immunity. For example, while the flu vaccine offers protection against specific strains of the influenza virus, it works by inducing an antibody response while preventing the cell-mediated immunity that would otherwise offer protection not only against those specific strains of the virus, but other strains as well. Hence, getting an annual flu shot can actually increase the risk of getting the flu. (There are over 200 strains of viruses that cause influenza or flu-like symptoms, the vaccine only targets a handful of them, and public health officials guess each year which ones they think will be in circulation in order to manufacture seasonal vaccines for those specific strains.)

While vaccine theory is premised on the idea of inducing humoral immunity, which involves an antibody response, scientists have learned the production of antibodies is neither always sufficient nor even necessary for the development of immunity.

Since the vaccine-induced immunity from the measles wanes over time, in the event of an outbreak, individuals are at greater risk of developing the disease in their adulthood, when it poses a higher risk of serious complications.

The government and media, of course, blame every outbreak on parents who choose not to vaccinate their children. This was true of the Disney outbreak earlier this year, even though the majority of cases were in adults.

Measles outbreaks can and do occur in highly vaccinated populations.” – Tweet this!

Measles outbreaks can and do occur in highly vaccinated populations. Even if there was a 100 percent vaccination rate, outbreaks could still occur for the reasons already noted: some individuals do not respond to the vaccine, and the immunity of those who do wanes over time.

Moreover, because of public vaccine policy, mothers today who were never infected during their childhood and hence never developed robust permanent immunity are less able to protect their newborn babies from the disease in the event of an outbreak.

Without the vaccine, women would be infected as children and develop a permanent, robust cell-mediated immunity while continuing to be frequently exposed to the virus, thus also providing a harmless natural boost to their antibody levels. When they become mothers, they would then confer protection to their infants by passing on antibodies through their breastmilk.

But now, since women were vaccinated as children, they likely have a waning antibody titer by the time they start having children. Because the vaccine has quite successfully reduced transmission of the disease, they have not received the beneficial natural boosting of antibodies. Hence, they aren’t able to pass on that antibody protection to their infants.

Public vaccine policy has thus shifted the risk burden away from those in whom the disease is generally well-tolerated and onto those in whom it poses a higher risk of serious complications: adults and the most vulnerable members of society—infants.

Such long-term population-level negative consequences of vaccines simply don’t receive any consideration in the mainstream discussion.

In reports about the measles-related death in Washington, while amplifying public health officials’ recommendation that everyone make sure they and their children have been vaccinated for measles, the media has also failed to even approach the question of the more immediate individual risk associated with the vaccine. When the question of risks does come up, the media tends to treat it as though nonexistent. In the wake of the Disney measles outbreak earlier this year, for instance, the New York Times insisted that there was “no evidence” that vaccines can cause harm and accused anyone who suggests otherwise of being “anti-science”.

This is a puzzling denial, indeed, in light of the fact that, back in the 1980s, the vaccine industry was granted legal immunity by the government because manufacturers were facing so many lawsuits for vaccine injuries that they were going out of business. This in turn threatened public health policy, which prompted the government to step in and bail out the vaccine manufactures by barring consumers from suing them for damages under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986.

Under the law, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program was also established to shift the financial burden of compensation for vaccine injuries from Big Pharma to the consumers. The program is funded by a $0.75 tax on every antigen dose of vaccines (so every time an MMR shot is given, being a combination vaccine, $2.25 is taxed for the purpose of contributing to the national vaccine injury fund).

The Supreme Court has upheld legal immunity for vaccine manufacturers on the grounds that certain adverse reactions are ‘unavoidable’” – Tweet this!

The Supreme Court has upheld legal immunity for vaccine manufacturers on the grounds that certain adverse reactions are “unavoidable” and “design defects” are “not a basis for liability.” Justice Antonin Scalia described this special accommodation for Big Pharma as a “societal bargain”.

The line from the New York Times and other mainstream media that vaccines are harmless is hard to reconcile with the fact that corporations like Merck have been granted legal immunity by the government on the grounds that vaccines are unavoidably unsafe.

As a further illustration of how utterly ignorant and irresponsible such dismissals of the risks associated with vaccines are, one need look no further than the vaccine manufacturers’ product inserts. Merck’s product insert for its measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine states that “Unnecessary doses of a vaccine are best avoided….” Surely, there must be a reason? It happens there are many.

For mothers, contraindications to vaccination include pregnancy, as “the possible effects of the vaccine on fetal development are unknown” since there are “no adequate studies” into that question. “However,” Merck appropriately adds, “it would be prudent to assume that the vaccine strain of virus is also capable of inducing adverse fetal effects.” The vaccine-strain mumps virus “has been shown to infect the placenta and fetus”. Studies have shown that the vaccine-strain of rubella virus can be transmitted to infants through the breast milk. Whether this is also true of the measles and mumps viruses “is not known”. Merck advises that “pregnancy should be avoided for 3 months following vaccination” and that “Caution should be exercised when M-M-R II is administered to a nursing woman.” The vaccine also “has not been evaluated for carcinogenic or mutagenic potential, or potential to impair fertility.” Among those who should not receive it are children who are hypersensitive to any of the vaccine’s components, including gelatin and eggs, the latter because the live viruses are propagated in chick embryo cell cultures. The rubella portion of the vaccine is propagated in “human diploid lung fibroblasts”; specifically, WI-38 (ATCC® CCL-75TM), which contaminates the vaccine with human DNA from an aborted female fetus. (This has raised some concern over “ethical problems” at the Vatican; specifically about “cooperation in evil” and the “unjust” practice of forcing parents “to act against their conscience”.) Another ingredient is “fetal bovine serum”. Another is “recombinant human albumin”; specifically, Recombumin® Prime, a product of Novozyems Biopharma US Inc. This is a genetically engineered protein (“recombinant” means it was made by dicing and splicing genetic material). The product was developed because of concerns that using the blood protein albumin from humans or cattle carries the risk of blood-borne contaminants like mycoplasma, prions, or viruses. (This has happened. In March 2010, the rotavirus vaccine Rotarix, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, was found to have been contaminated with a pig virus after it was administered to a million children.) Possible adverse reactions to the vaccine include:

  • Fever
  • Snycope (fainting)
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Vasculitis (a condition in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the blood vessels, causing inflammation that can lead to serious problems, including aneurysms)
  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas that occurs when the digestive enzymes it produces begin digesting the pancreas itself)
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Parotitis (inflammation of the parotid glands)
  • Nausea
  • Diabetes mellitus (diabetes)
  • Thrombocytopenia (a disorder in which there is an abnormally low amount of platelets, which help blood to clot)
  • Anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic reaction that can cause cardiac and respiratory arrest)
  • Arthritis (joint inflammation)
  • Arthralgia (joint pain)
  • Myalgia (muscle pain)
  • Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain, which can cause permanent brain damage or death)
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome (an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the peripheral nervous system, which can result in paralysis or death)
  • Febrile seizures (convulsions brought on by fever)
  • Afebrile seizures (convulsions without fever, which may indicate epilepsy)
  • Pneumonia
  • Measles-like rash
  • Death

It is perhaps not too surprising that many of these adverse reactions are the same as the symptoms or complications of wild-type measles itself, including: fever; headache; diarrhea; vomiting; encephalitis; seizures; pneumonia; rash; and, of course, death.

Of course, Merck and public health officials maintain that serious adverse events are rare, less than the risk of developing the same complications from the disease. But, then, the recent case in Washington is the first confirmed case of measles-related death since 2003, while there have been 65 deaths since 2003 reported to the nation Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) following vaccination with MMR.

Furthermore, the possible adverse reactions listed in the product insert are just a list of known reactions from short-term studies—(and the vaccine manufacturers conduct their own studies to get FDA licensure)—and postmarketing surveillance. The long-term effects of vaccination and its interference in the natural development of an individual’s immune system haven’t been well studied, such as whether vaccination has contributed to the alarming increases in asthma, allergies, and autoimmune diseases.

The continued use of mercury as a preservative in flu vaccines and the use of aluminum as an adjuvant in numerous other childhood vaccines are particularly worrisome practices. Both are known neurotoxins that can pass the placental and blood-brain barriers.

There has never been a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of long-term health outcomes between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. As much as the media likes to say that science has shown that there is no risk of developing autism from vaccines, there has never been a study comparing autism rates of individuals who’ve received the CDC’s recommended schedule and unvaccinated individuals.

Public policy treats vaccination as a one-size-fits-all solution—thus playing Russian roulette with our children.” – Tweet this!

Moreover, it is known that vaccinations can modify gene expression, and certain individuals may be genetically predisposed to having adverse reactions or long-term negative health consequence of being vaccinated; yet public policy treats vaccination as a one-size-fits-all solution—thus playing Russian roulette with our children.

This is all just scratching the surface. The point is that the media treat the subject of vaccines as though there wasn’t even a discussion to be had—just fall in line and get your damn shots! This is dishonest and anti-intellectual. The popular accusation that anyone who questions public vaccine policy is “anti-science” is a particularly hypocritical creed reflective of the intellectual dishonesty and sheer laziness of mainstream journalists who bow to the altar of the state religion and preach official dogma rather than doing their jobs.

Notwithstanding the pretense to the contrary from public health officials and the mainstream media, there is a discussion to be had about public vaccine policy. We ought to start having it.

[Corrections: As originally published, this article stated, “There has never been a study of long-term health outcomes between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.” This is incorrect. There has never been a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of this kind, which is the “gold standard” of epidemiological studies. The text has been revised to clarify. As originally published, the article stated, “mothers today who were never infected during their childhood and hence never developed robust permanent immunity are unable to protect their newborn babies from the disease in the event of an outbreak.” This is incorrect. Women who have been vaccinated, due to waning immunity, are less able to protect their newborns. The text has been revised to clarify. July 28, 2015: As originally published, this article stated, “In March 2010, the rotavirus vaccine Rotarix, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, was found to have been contaminated with a pig virus after it was injected into a million children. Rotarix is an orally-administered live virus vaccine. The error has been corrected.]

This article was originally published at Foreign Policy Journal.

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About Jeremy R. Hammond

About Jeremy R. Hammond

I am an independent journalist, political analyst, publisher and editor of Foreign Policy Journal, book author, and writing coach.

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19 Comments

  1. Banzai Otis

    Jeremy, I was trying to get to the article at Foreign Policy Journal and found this. Hopefully nobody follows me, because I’m not trying to rehash the same debate over here. Obviously you lost control of the comments section over there, but in the process there was a lot of legitimate criticism that got drowned out. In my case, I was trying to explain why your interpretation of post-vaccine drops in mortality is flawed, and a couple of other points on how you portrayed the NVICP and distinctions you (incorrectly, in my opinion) make between natural- and vaccine-induced immunity.

    More importantly though, there are some real experts on the medical science who were trying to bring errors to your attention that got drowned out. Or, in a couple of cases, even banned after they lost their tempers from being harassed/spammed by a few well-known trolls and gish-gallopers who’s names I can’t even mention here because they stalk my profile.

    My main point is that your article has some serious flaws, and to the extent which these flaws create unwarranted fear of vaccination these flaws are dangerous. When it comes to vaccines, misinformation literally gets people hurt. You present yourself as a journalist/analyst, and so I think you have a responsibility to get the science/math right. I hope you’ll go back and take another look at the substantive criticisms in the thread on FPJ.

    Reply
    • Jeremy R. Hammond

      If you think there are errors in either fact or logic, you are welcome to point them out.

      Reply
      • Banzai Otis

        I saw your response here: http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2015/07/05/a-measles-death-vaccines-and-the-medias-failure-to-inform/#comment-2148015787 . Rather than have this discussion in two places, I think it’s better here where we are (so far) away from the trolls.

        I think your responses are dodging my points:

        1) You are misrepresenting the NVICP. The tax issue is a small one, and not really my main point, although I will just point out that the quote you provided supported my assertion that the tax is paid for by the manufacturers – regardless of what sort of contract/billing arrangements are made afterword. More importantly, you are misrepresenting the purpose and impact of the NVICP. Specifically,
        1a) It was not created to “shift the burden” onto consumers. It was created as a win-win that protected manufacturers from frivolous tort (and thereby protected supply) while ensuring that more potential vaccine injuries were compensated with less financial hardship and fewer legal hurdles.
        1b) Vaccine manufacturers do not have complete immunity, as you imply. The opposite is true – they have very limited and specific immunity for design defects for certain vaccines. The SCOTUS decision you referenced did not determine that vaccines are “unavoidably unsafe” as your article says – again, the opposite is true. They court rejected that designation.
        http://www.historyofvaccines.org/content/articles/vaccine-injury-compensation-programs
        http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/09-152.pdf (pg 2 for “unavoidably unsafe” rejection)

        2) You are drawing false distinctions between natural- and vaccine-induced immunity.
        2a) You falsely state that naturally induced immunity is permanent, and does not wane, when in fact it does.
        2b) You use the example of people born before 19xx not needing vaccines to support 2a, without taking into account multiple exposures. In other words, when disease is endemic, those with natural immunity get natural boosters all of the time. This creates an inaccurate comparison to immunity from vaccine exposures.
        2c) You seriously misrepresent the concept of herd immunity by suggesting that it is some kind of hypothesis, when it is cold hard fact. You also claim that vaccines “destroyed that natural herd immunity”, which draws a false distinction between vaccine and ‘natural’ herd immunity. In fact, there is just one herd immunity, and it is increased via vaccine-induced immunity.
        http://pediatrics.about.com/od/immunizations/tp/Anti-Vaccine-Myths-and-Misinformation.01.htm (#13)

        3) You are making unsupported assumptions and extrapolations about both the trend of declining mortality in the early 1900s (which is a fact, I’m not contesting that decrease) and the potential reasons for the sharp decline in measles mortality post-vaccine.
        3a) You imply, in your article and subsequent comments, that measles was essentially on the way out when the vaccine arrived. As far as I can tell, this is completely unsubstantiated assumption
        3b) You present two graphs, which when taken together give us mortality, incidence, and case-fatality rates over time. Mortality = Incidence x Case Fatality. Your math falls apart when you fail to consider the fact that case fatality in the years leading up to the vaccine was roughly what it is today. Based on this equation, the most likely conclusion from this is that the decrease in mortality post-vaccine was due almost entirely to decreased incidence. This doesn’t leave room for all of the other factors you spend a lot of time arguing for. In short, your graphs contradict your argument on mortality factors and trend post-vaccine.

        Sorry to be so long, but I think it’s fair to say you have been ignoring the bulk of my points in your other responses. Also, my education included formal logic, so if you think I’ve made some kind of error just point to it. Vague, condescending references to fallacies without actually pointing out the error doesn’t help.

      • Jeremy R. Hammond

        the quote you provided supported my assertion that the tax is paid for by the manufacturers

        The tax is ultimately paid by the consumers, as I have just shown you. It is included in the price of the product. Now, in a free market, that would mean less demand, but there isn’t a free market for vaccines; they are mandated by the state, so, again, ultimately the cost burden of compensation for vaccine injury has been shifted from the manufacturers to the consumers.

        It was created as a win-win

        It was created to grant vaccine manufacturers legal immunity because their products were harming so many people the lawsuits threatened to put them out of business. This granting of legal immunity to Merck, et al, was not a “win-win”. Sure, it was sold to the public that way, and it was certainly a win for Big Pharma, but a major loss for the public.

        Vaccine manufacturers do not have complete immunity, as you imply. The opposite is true – they have very limited and specific immunity for design defects for certain vaccines.

        Do you not get that the Supreme Court case specifically ruled that vaccine manufacturers cannot be sued for “design defects”? The only thing way in which they can be held liable is if they violate government regulations or the law.

        The SCOTUS decision you referenced did not determine that vaccines are “unavoidably unsafe” as your article says – again, the opposite is true. They court rejected that designation.

        “NO vaccine manufacturer shall be liable in a civil action for damages arising from a vaccine-related injury or death … if the injury or death resulted from side effects that were unvaoidable…” — NCVIA

        “”[T]he Act expressly eliminates liability for a vaccine’s unavoidable, adverse side effects” — SCOTUS

        Why are you wasting my time?

        You falsely state that naturally induced immunity is permanent, and does not wane, when in fact it does.

        No, it generally doesn’t. Hence, as I wrote, ” In fact, the CDCconsiders birth before 1957 to be “evidence of immunity” to measles for the simple reason that pretty much everyone back then was infected with it as a child and gained lifelong immunity as a result.”

        You use the example of people born before 19xx not needing vaccines to support 2a, without taking into account multiple exposures.

        First of all, an antibody response isn’t necessarily even necessary for immunity from measles. Secondly, I did explicitly note:

        Without the vaccine, women would be infected as children and develop a permanent, robust cell-mediated immunity while continuing to be frequently exposed to the virus, thus also providing a harmless natural boost to their antibody levels. When they become mothers, they would then confer protection to their infants by passing on antibodies through their breastmilk.

        But now, since women were vaccinated as children, they likely have a waning antibody titer by the time they start having children. Because the vaccine has quite successfully reduced transmission of the disease, they have not received the beneficial natural boosting of antibodies.

        In fact, there is just one herd immunity, and it is increased via vaccine-induced immunity.

        The source you cite to support this denial of the existence of any kind of natural herd immunity doesn’t even discuss the concept. On that subject, please see my article and the lengthy discussion of it.

        I can’t take any more time out of my day for this. Suffice to observe that so far, you’re just wasting my time and I am disinclined to have my time wasted.

      • Banzai Otis

        Jeremy, most of your responses here simply deny my claims and repeat your assertions. If anything is “wasting time”, it is that. I’m asking you to back up these claims, because many of them simply aren’t true. As a journalist/analyst, you should be able and willing to back up your claims.

        The tax is ultimately paid by the consumers

        Probably some of it, but this is really just a shell game. Vaccine manufacturers don’t sell to consumers, they sell to health care providers, and I’m sure you are familiar with how bizarre and convoluted pricing is in health care. So, how much of that tax is ultimately passed on to consumers? We don’t know. What we do know is that the manufacturer pays the tax. At any rate, couldn’t I make the same argument regarding the legal costs incurred pre-NVICP? That those costs were ultimately passed on to keep the company alive? The bottom line is that the NVICP did not explicitly create some new financial burden for consumers, and we don’t know the downstream net effect of the tax on final price. Your article casually implies the opposite, which is misleading.

        their products were harming so many people

        Evidence please. It sounds like you are simply assuming this is true based on the number of lawsuits.

        a major loss for the public

        Please support this assertion. I’m claiming that more potential vaccine injuries are able to receive compensation under the NVICP. Additionally, this compensation is cheaper and easier (both logistically and legally) to acquire than pre-NVICP. That is a “win” for the public with potential injuries. The rest of us also “win” by having access to life-saving medicine, which was endangered by the threat of frivolous tort.

        Do you not get that the Supreme Court case specifically ruled that vaccine manufacturers cannot be sued for “design defects”?

        Yes, I understand this. It’s my entire point, and why I said “they have very limited and specific immunity for design defects for certain vaccines”. Design defects, for certain vaccines, is the only protection they have. They can still be sued for manufacturing and labeling defects, and of course for fraudulent and illegal behavior (i.e. everything else), as well as design defects for non-covered vaccines. Your article implies complete legal immunity, which is very far from the truth.

        Why are you wasting my time?

        Please “waste” a little more of your time and read page 2 like I referenced. “Unavoidably unsafe” is a specific legal term, and isn’t necessarily the same as saying side affects were unavoidable. As an analogy, you can be ‘negligent’ according to Merriam Webster, but not in the eyes of the law where ‘negligent’ has a very precise meaning. SCOTUS rejected the application of the legal term ‘unavoidably unsafe’. Your article states otherwise, which isn’t true.

        No, it generally doesn’t. … gained lifelong immunity as a result.

        These two statements contradict one another. Even if it “generally doesn’t”, whatever you mean by that exactly, that means that it sometimes does. Pertussis and chicken pox are good examples, which you would know if you’d actually read the source I gave you. Your article states that naturally-induced immunity does not wane, when in fact it does. Your claim isn’t true.
        http://pediatrics.about.com/od/immunizations/tp/Anti-Vaccine-Myths-and-Misinformation.01.htm (#13)

        The source you cite to support this…

        I thought it would be clear from context that my reference after section 2 was supporting my natural vs vaccine points. Of course #13 doesn’t support anything about herd immunity since, as you astutely pointed out, it has nothing to do with that. (btw, if you do want that pediatrician’s take on herd immunity, you can scroll down a few paragraphs to #15)

        I already read your ‘lengthy discussion’ about herd immunity, and it is deeply flawed. Herd immunity is a mathematical fact, and it exists regardless of how individual immunity was acquired. Your article asserts otherwise, which is untrue. Your article also implies that it is a controversial or uncertain concept – through the use of language calling it a “theory” that needs to be “push[ed]”, for example. In reality, it is a fact, and your characterization of it is misleading and untrue. To be even more specific, your article contains two completely unsupported and untrue assertions:

        1)

        What the declining mortality rate indicates is that the US population was developing natural herd immunity.

        This is a naked assumption. Even if there was a meaningful distinction to be made over herd immunity that results from naturally-acquired individual immunity, this claim is impossible. Herd immunity protects against incidence – mortality is a byproduct of that. And incidence wasn’t declining. In other words, fewer people were dying after getting the disease, which has absolutely nothing to do with herd immunity.

        2)

        But then along came the vaccine and destroyed that natural herd immunity.

        This is also a naked assumption, and builds off your assumption in the previous point that we were somehow developing a higher level of herd immunity in the early 1900s. You provided no evidence for this, and it is directly contradicted by the incidence graph you provided.

        Bottom line: Herd immunity is an emergent property of individual immunity, and is independent of how that individual immunity was acquired. It describes protection against getting a disease (i.e. incidence), not mortality, and has nothing to do with case fatality. It is also an uncontroversial mathematical fact. Your article gets all of these points very, very wrong. The wiki is a pretty good primer on the math: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathematical_modelling_of_infectious_disease

        I can’t take any more time out of my day

        When you find the time, please either address #3 or concede the point. It is significant, and a big chunk of your argument against the benefits of vaccination rests on it. Many of your arguments flaws come from incorrect interpretations of your graphs and apparent misunderstandings about the relationship between incidence/mortality/case-fatality, and that should be addressed. As is, the casual reader would end up less informed on these issues after reading your article.

      • Alain Couvier

        When you find the time, please either address #3 or concede the point.

        That would be dependent on your assumption that the data is accurate ? Can you provide such evidence ?

      • Banzai Otis

        Hammond already provided the source for the data, and if your question was serious you would have already looked at it for yourself. Apparently you haven’t. But, we already know that you can’t be bothered to actually look at a source before swaggering in with some smart-sounding-but-irrelevant pseudo-criticism, don’t we? https://disqus.com/home/discussion/dfm-mercurynews/gov_jerry_brown_signs_californias_new_vaccine_bill/#comment-2116072172

        Alain, I’m trying to have a serious conversation with Hammond. We both know you don’t have any intention of being serious, and are only here to stroke your own ego and drag the conversation off into pedantic details in order to flaunt how superior you think you are. In fact, I see you’ve already started your copy/paste spam below. Please stay out of my conversation with Hammond and let him respond on his own. Thank you.

        Note to lurkers: If this response seems harsh, please look through my history at a few of the extended interactions with Alain before judging. He is a troll who delights in moving the goalposts, changing the subject, and insulting and demeaning everyone around him in order to keep the attention on himself.

      • Jeremy R. Hammond

        Alain Couvier is welcome to participate in the conversation as long as he respects the terms of use of this site, which you’ve just violated with two paragraphs of personal attacks. I’m done with you.

      • Alain Couvier

        Mr Otis

        You obviously have your own perspective and narrative on this matter. In reply I remain resolute in responding to issues of social justice that I feel are important or to correct / debate / argue – items essentially where I feel that the readership as well as myself welcomes a contrary opinion.

        If that requires me to be short or respond to people in less than polite fashion, that is in my opinion usually dictated from a propensity for vaccine proponents to harass , bully or otherwise try to intimidate those that have such a differing opinion.

        My role in many discussions surrounding vaccines and /or autism is to challenge the skeptic narrative … and put forward an opinion or argument based on medical science, sociology or just plain common sense. The other primary role is to make people think outside of narrow confines of linear thinking on those issues and acknowledge both the limits of our understanding and the beautiful and elegant findings that show our world is far more complex than we think.

        Obviously that needs engagement, reflection and a deal of critical thinking that is lacking in the skeptic blogosphere … the response is typical and a well known psychological phenomenon – ‘flight or fight’.

        In regards to the ‘conversation’ you have put forward here – it seems you wish to ‘demand’ he retract his position rather than respond to Mr Hammond’s offer of engagement and reflection on your own position.

        So now the air has been cleared … what evidence do you have that the data you are arguing from is indeed accurate ? Specifically historical measles incidence ?

        That is the crux of the matter is it not ?

      • Jeremy R. Hammond

        So, how much of that tax is ultimately passed on to consumers?

        All of it. Again, it is included in the price of the vaccine. Again, see the SCOTUS ruling.

        Evidence please.

        Are you seriously denying that DPT vaccine caused harm?

        http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=9814&page=R1

        Pages 11-12.

        But you can’t possibly be unaware of the fact. You are simply wasting my time.

        Your article implies complete legal immunity, which is very far from the truth.

        The article states:

        The Supreme Court has upheld legal immunity for vaccine manufacturers on the grounds that certain adverse reactions are “unavoidable” and “design defects” are “not a basis for liability.”

        Which is perfectly true. It does not imply that they would also have immunity for violating US law. (A little common sense goes a long way.)

        SCOTUS rejected the application of the legal term ‘unavoidably unsafe’.

        Don’t give me a linke to some blog. Quote SCOTUS where it did so.

        Pertussis and chicken pox are good examples, which you would know if you’d actually read the source I gave you. Your article states that naturally-induced immunity does not wane, when in fact it does.

        As you know, what I wrote had nothing to do with pertussis or chicken pox or anything other than measles. And what I wrote about natural infection with measles conferring lifelong immunity is true.

        You’re still wasting my time. Going on would be superfluous and I’ve no interest in wasting any more time. You are on notice for trolling.

  2. Alain Couvier

    Notwithstanding the pretense to the contrary from public health officials and the mainstream media, there is a discussion to be had about public vaccine policy. We ought to start having it.

    “The level of pharma’s secrecy is astonishing— we can’t get information from Pfizer and GSK on what they charge countries for the pneumococcal vaccine. The question we are asking today is, how any country can negotiate fair vaccine prices when critical information is missing?” said Dr. Manica Balasegaram, Executive Director of Médecins Sans Frontières’ Access Campaign.

    “It’s absurd to see the pricing information of a life-saving product kept secret, with countries and organisations left
    in the dark when trying to negotiate a fair price.”

    http://www.msf.org.au/media-room/press-releases/press-release/article/medecins-sans-frontieres-launches-global-campaign-to-reduce-the-price-of-pneumococcal-vaccine-to.html

    Reply
  3. Alain Couvier

    I must commend Jeremy for opening a debate about vaccines, if only to show the weaknesses of the arguments put forward by various skeptic commentators on this and other outlets. Over the time I have been commentating to this issue it has become evident that there is a range of new understandings of medical science that can actually make our world a safer place and still engage fully with vaccine programs that reduces both infectious disease mortality and morbidity. This of course relies on understanding that the science and thus the knowledge we have about human physiology , neurology, genetics and environment is changing substantially in a number of key aspects. Hopefully this then forces us to re-examine how a successful vaccine program and surrounding health initiatives may look.

    For the interested reader the following links incorporate some of the new findings that support a new paradigm in thinking , as well as overturning years of vaccine skeptic dogma.

    The Nonspecific Effects of Vaccines and the Expanded Program on Immunization
    http://jid.oxfordjournals.org/content/204/2/182.full

    Bandim Health Project

    http://www.bandim.org/

    http://www.novonordiskfonden.dk/en/content/bandim-health-project

    Nonspecific effects of neonatal and infant vaccination: public-health, immunological and conceptual challenges

    http://www.nature.com/ni/journal/v15/n10/full/ni.2961.html

    Read Cube rental $3.99

    Reply
    • Jeremy R. Hammond

      Thanks. I’ve found your comments (here and at FPJ) and shared resources valuable.

      Reply
      • Don

        I have been passing on your articles, specifically A Measles death, Vaccines and the Media’s Failure to Inform & The Ugly Truth About the Pertussis Vaccine. Thank for your honesty , integrity and courage on writing about these issues. I share them whenever I can. More recently, I shared it with someone on another thread. Of course, within seconds the discrediting attack on you, your beliefs and your character had begun. Quite predictable! Anyway…thank you again.

      • Don

        Check out The Hill- House Republican resurfaces claims of CDC Cover- up. The same reaction as within your thread happening. The trolls are in a hysteric state there as well.

  4. Alain Couvier

    Is the recording of historic Measles Incidence accurate ?

    In the United Kingdom, where one can receive some of the world’s highest standards of health care, Measles identification in a modern clinical setting is particularly poor …

    http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20140505192926/http://www.hpa.org.uk/web/HPAweb&HPAwebStandard/HPAweb_C/1195733811358

    Best Illustrated by comparing Notified cases ie Physician generated diagnosis to confirmed. In this most recent example accuracy was limited to an average of 14.15% – 14.5 cases per 100 were correctly identified.

    Reply
    • Alain Couvier

      In other years … the percentage drops alarmingly …

      Reply

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