On September 3, I read an article published on August 17 in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association, discussing how vaccination rates in the US have plummeted as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic and associated “lockdown” measures. As a solution for this perceived problem, the authors proposed that children be vaccinated at school, that drive-through vaccination clinics be opened, and that non-medical exemptions to vaccinations be eliminated.
The article, written by Leila Barraza, Claudia Reeves, and Doug Campos-Outcalt, is titled “Outcome of Coronavirus Disease 2019 on School Vaccination Policies for 2020-2021”. It opens by saying, “In 2019, the US experienced a record number of measles cases, the most since 1992. Most cases were seen in individuals who had not received vaccinations.”
Further into the article, the authors claim that, in 2019, “Almost 90% of reported measles cases occurred in individuals who were unvaccinated for the disease.”
Having read extensively in the medical literature about the phenomenon of measles vaccine failure, I doubted that claim and so turned to their cited source, a report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published on October 11, 2019, in their Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).
Sure enough, as I expected, the source shows that the claim by Barraza et al. is false. So I submitted the following comment on their article, complying with their guidelines and their limit of about 600 words:
Advocating vaccine mandates for school-aged children as a solution to measles outbreaks, Barraza et al. write that, among reported measles cases in 2019, almost 90% “were unvaccinated for the disease.” However, the source cited rather states that 89% of reported cases “were in patients who were unvaccinated or had an unknown vaccination status”. Among the latter, 91% were adults either unable to recall or to produce documentation of having been vaccinated as children. Were we to instead assume that those with unknown status were vaccinated as children, it would indicate an overall vaccine failure rate of 30%.
If we consider only those with known vaccination status, it leaves us with 1,014 cases, of whom 14% were vaccinated. If we also exclude infants below the recommended age for vaccination, the data indicate a vaccine failure rate of 17%.
Furthermore, only 24% of cases were in unvaccinated children aged 5–17 years, and 18% of unvaccinated cases were below the recommended age for vaccination. It is striking that 29% of all cases were adults. Even more striking is that, among cases known to have been vaccinated, 46% were adults.
This indicates a substantial rate of secondary vaccine failure, which in turn indicates that outbreaks could still occur even with high vaccination rates. Furthermore, along with primary and tertiary vaccine failure, this phenomenon contributes to a shifted risk burden away from school-aged children, in whom measles is generally a benign infection, and onto those at greater risk of serious complications: adults and infants.
It is well established in the literature that women who experienced measles in their childhood are better able to confer passive maternal immunity to their infants than mothers who were vaccinated. Consequently, mass vaccination has resulted in an increased risk to infants in the event of exposure. Policy advocates must take such opportunity costs into consideration.
It is also established that vaccine can have “non-specific effects” (NSEs). A detrimental NSE has been observed, for example, for the diphtheria, tetanus, and whole-cell pertussis (DTP) vaccine, with studies having found it to be associated with an increased rate of childhood mortality.
The live-virus measles vaccine, on the other hand, has been associated with a decreased rate of all-cause mortality that cannot be explained by prevention of measles deaths alone. However, since the vaccine is intended to mimic the natural immune response to the virus, it should come as no surprise that surviving measles infection is also associated with a reduced risk of dying from other causes. Indeed, in populations where the fatality rate from acute measles infection is low (which is certainly the case for developed countries like the US), this survival benefit of measles more than offsets deaths due to measles.
A key lesson from this body of research is that absent randomized placebo-controlled studies comparing long-term health outcomes, including mortality, between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, we cannot know whether a vaccine is truly safe or cost effective.
Advocates of existing policies and vaccine mandates typically argue that such studies would be unethical on the grounds that it would deprive the control group of the benefits of the vaccine, but this is the fallacy of begging the question. What is truly unethical is treating entire populations as subjects of a mass uncontrolled experiment without their informed consent, a fundamental human right that is all the more violated when policy goals rely on coercion.
As you may have already guessed, JAMA declined to publish my comment. Nor has the false claim been corrected. This tells us that the responsible persons at JAMA know that the article authors’ claim is false and yet persist in propagating that false claim willfully.
Why? Because the goal of increasing vaccination rates supersedes any concerns about communicating truthful and accurate information to the public. If lying to the public and censoring truth is what it takes to achieve the policy goal, so be it.
It’s also a useful illustration of how the medical establishment chooses to remain willfully ignorant of the phenomenon of vaccine failure and its consequences, just as advocates of public vaccine policy and of vaccine mandates choose to remain willfully ignorant of the opportunity costs and non-specific effects of vaccines.
Public vaccine policy is not about serving the public by bettering public health. It is about serving the pharmaceutical industry by selling more vaccines. The means to that end is by manufacturing consent for the policy and, if that fails, by coercing parents into having their children receive a pharmaceutical product for which the manufacturers have been granted legal immunity against injury lawsuits by the same government whose goal it is to serve the industry.
The authors of the JAMA article claim no conflicts of interest. But the lead author, Leila Barraza, is director of the Arizona Area Health Education Centers at the University of Arizona Health Sciences, which is funded by the federal and state governments. That is a conflict of interest, just as it would be were she or her institution funded directly by pharmaceutical companies.
JAMA has no excuse for not correcting the factual error I alerted them to in the article. Furthermore, everything I write in my comment comes straight out of the medical literature. I’ve written about each point previously. For supporting references about the measles and DTP vaccines, see my article “NY Times Deceives about the Odds of Dying from Measles in the US”.
The status quo is unacceptable. Public vaccine policy poses a grave threat to both our children’s health and our liberty. We must fight for change. The inviolable right to informed consent must be respected.
Take a stand. Speak out. Take action. Our children and future generations of humanity are depending on us to achieve the necessary paradigm shift.