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Measles on Rise as Parents Question Vaccine

POSTED: 02:21 PM ET, 08/28/2008 by Derek Kravitz
TAGS: CDC, drugs, measles

Reports of measles are on the rise, with health experts attributing the increase to the decision by some parents to forego vaccinations for their children out of fears the shots could trigger diseases.

Scientific research has found no link thus far between vaccinations and diseases such as autism, but some parents remain suspicious.

Pediatricians and health experts are sounding the alarm, noting that measles, which is virulently contagious, is the first disease to crop up when vaccination rates fall. In the past six months, 131 cases of measles have been reported, more than in any other six-month period in the past 12 years, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says extensive reports from several leading researchers have found no "proven association" between autism and measles vaccines. Experts recently told the Chicago Tribune that autism "tends to emerge at the same age children receive their shots, leading to a false sense of cause and effect."

"Parental suspicion is now so high that public health officials fear it could undermine one of the most important advances in medical history," the Tribune reported. "Although vaccination rates have remained fairly steady, pockets of vaccine rejection can lead to outbreaks of childhood diseases that were once thought conquered."

Of the 131 cases reported to CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases between Jan. 1 and July 31, most were school-aged children whose parents had yet to vaccinate them. At least 15 patients were hospitalized; no deaths were reported. Illinois led the nation with 32 reported cases, followed by New York with 27 and Washington State with 19. Washington, D.C., and Virginia reported one case each. There were 55 cases of measles reported in the United States in all of 2006.

Two of the biggest outbreaks, in Illinois and Washington State, occurred after unvaccinated children infected others. In Washington, a child caught the disease at a church conference attended by 3,000 junior high school students. That child infected seven other children in her household and they spread measles to 11 other people, according to the health site WebMD. Many of those infected were home-schooled and none were vaccinated due to their parents' beliefs.

Health authorities are concerned that larger outbreaks of the disease could be next. Dr. Dave Tayloe Jr., president-elect of the American Academy of Pediatrics, told the Raleigh News & Observer that an epidemic can be "only a plane ride away."

The New York Times reports that the number of parents who claim a philosophical exemption to mandatory vaccine laws has grown. At least 20 states allow personal or philosophical exemptions, according to the nonprofit National Vaccine Information Center.

Many parents of children afflicted with autism continue to argue that a link exists, pointing to a legal dispute in Georgia between the family of 9-year-old Hannah Poling and the federal government. In that case, a court awarded Poling a still-undetermined amount of money from a federal vaccine injury fund, finding that vaccines aggravated a rare underlying metabolic condition that resulted in a brain disorder "with features of autism spectrum disorder," The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

At the time, several researchers -- including Dr. William Schaffner, professor and chairman of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University, and Dr. Ira Rubin of Naperville Pediatrics in Naperville, Ill. -- said legal action does not equate with scientific proof of a link between vaccines and autism. Still, Poling's case, and others like it, have left some experts asking questions. Dr. Bernadine Healy, the former head of the National Institutes of Health, told CBS News in May that a consensus opinion within the medical community over an autism-vaccine link has not been reached and that more study is needed. "I think that the public health officials have been too quick to dismiss the hypothesis as irrational," Healy said.

But the National Network for Immunization Information and two books published by the National Academies Press say autism is caused by genetics, not by any chemical found in vaccinations.

--Derek Kravitz

By Derek Kravitz |  August 28, 2008; 2:21 PM ET
Previous: Biden Family Financial Connections Detailed | Next: Letters Paint Picture Of 'Humble' Abramoff


Please email us to report offensive comments.

Maybe if the drug companies didn't put mercury in the vaccines, maybe if the FDA and public health officials weren't so corrupt and could be trusted by the public, then this wouldn't be a problem.

Posted by: Tirade | August 28, 2008 6:34 PM

Europeans seem to be getting along just fine and they do not vaccinate for measles.

Posted by: Bill J | August 28, 2008 6:50 PM

Europeans do vaccinate for measles. However, they do have some problems because they don't vaccinate enough.

Posted by: henry | August 28, 2008 7:09 PM

Tirade - There is no mercury in the vaccines. Mercury was in the thimerosol that was used as a preservative in vaccines but thimerosol was taken out of the vaccines in 2002. And yet, autism rates continue to rise. Most experts think the rise in autism rates has to do with greater diagnosis, not an actual increase in cases. It has nothing to do with mercury.

Posted by: Ugh | August 28, 2008 7:13 PM

Thimerosal has been mostly removed from vaccines. Here is a link:

Posted by: henry | August 28, 2008 7:20 PM

The flu vaccine is chock full of mercury.

Posted by: ohenry | August 28, 2008 8:38 PM

90% of flu vaccines still contain mercury. Even while the amount of mercury has been reduced in many childhood vaccines, the use of flu vaccine containing mercury for pregnant women has greatly increased. Years ago it was discouraged; now pregnant women are strongly urged to get the flu vaccine, and not told that it contains mercury. Since the fetus is even more vulnerable to the toxic effects of mercury, the rising rates of autism could be due to the unprecedented exposure of pregnant women to mercury.

Posted by: jerri | August 28, 2008 10:00 PM

Investigations??? This is one of the most one sided artice I've ever read in the post. Let's all do our research people! Forget about autism for a moment. What about the rise in asthma, diabetes, A.D.D? Were any of the 131 kids vaccinated? That seems to be left out of the article. And when did 131 cases of ANYTHING in this country get SO much press? Let's do our own investigations and not just spout out quotes from experts who are in bed with the drug companies. That's what thousands of families are doing around the country. Good for them and good for their kids!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 28, 2008 10:08 PM

When the CDC and ACIP start investigating why some kids are getting vaccine-strain measles in lesions lining their gastrointestinal tract, they might earn back some public trust. Instead vaccine-injured children are written off as collateral damage in the war on disease, and families are left twisting slowly in the wind going broke handling these illnesses and disabilities. You find out just how unscientific these scientists are when they babble on about how the benefits outweigh the risks. Measles lasts a week; vaccine-induced "autism" lasts a lifetime.

Posted by: prevent vaccine injuries please | August 28, 2008 10:59 PM

According to an article in The Post 3 years ago, measles has killed somewhere around 200 million people in the last 150 years. It is also incredibly contagious. Let's not forget that the measles are not as tame as some people make them out to be. The vast majority of doctors and medical researchers are thoughtful and dedicated professionals.

Posted by: Ummmm... | August 29, 2008 12:16 AM

Thank you, Derek Kravitz and the Washington Post, for a very rare and very fair article about vaccines.

Robin Nemeth

Posted by: Robin Nemeth | August 29, 2008 10:07 AM

Sure, "legal action may not equate with scientific proof" but science and emerging science is an important part of any legal proceeding -- especially in this type of debate -- and to think that science doesn't play a significant role in a court's decision is simplistic and naive.

In Hannah's case, government *medical* officials working for HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt decided to concede the case *before* it ever went to "court" and they based their decision on her *MEDICAL* records.

Kelli Ann Davis,
DC Political Liaison for Generation Rescue

Posted by: Anonymous | August 29, 2008 10:27 AM

This world we live in is so polluted and full of toxins how would you ever know the one cause is, maybe we are supposed to live in the world god created not the toxins man made.

Posted by: Missa | August 29, 2008 11:52 AM

I hope we're finally getting to the crux of this matter; viz: what is the REAL ratio between the risks vs benefits of various vaccines; and how much of a downside in a certain instance is the public willing to risk. That decision has been taken out of the people's hands by health authorities who have lied for years about the total downside of vaccines. Now parents have said they're mad as hell and they're not going to take that obfuscation anymore. And past time.
Good for democracy. Not so good for rigid authoritarians, who would decide for us what is best for us. No more. That day is done.

Posted by: kibitzer | August 29, 2008 12:35 PM

UGH!! Mercury is JUST the scratch on the surface. What about formeldahyde, aluminum and all the other garbage that goes into making a vaccine? The problem lies in the multiple doses a baby receives. My child received pediarix at 2 months old. Pediarix is a combination of Diptheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio and hep B. Let's not forget the pnuemocacal, prevnar and HIB . Sure my child received 4 injections but he actually got 8 shots...with only trace amounts in each...times that by 8...then go for another round 2 months later then again 2 months later then 6 months later add another 5 injections with only trace amounts of mercury and the child cannot rid itself of all that garbage their brains can be affected...thus autism, add, learning difficulties, speech delay, etc etc.. could go on for hours. They need to quit injecting so much garbage in a tiny infant.Might as well make an infant eat a cigarette which nobody would do but it's the same principal. Still getting "garbage" and toxins.

Posted by: Tamsyn | August 29, 2008 2:02 PM

What happened? Was there too much news about young girls dropping dead or becoming paralyzed by Gardisil? Let's change the subject to the dreaded measles. What's the diagnosis for the above. Sudden adolescent Death Syndrome (SADS)?

Posted by: Tom | August 29, 2008 2:43 PM

Why doesn't any reporter just ask the most important (and simple)question... would you rather your child have measles, or autism?

Compare the severity of both:

Measles -
Most patients with uncomplicated measles will recover with rest and supportive treatment. The fatality rate from measles for otherwise healthy people in developed countries is low: approximately 1 death per thousand cases.
AND..get this, no drugs are known to cure measles.

Autism -
There is no cure. Children recover occasionally, sometimes after intensive treatment and sometimes not; it is not known how often this happens.
Many medications are used to treat problems associated with ASD. More than half of U.S. children diagnosed with ASD are prescribed psychoactive drugs or anticonvulsants, with the most common drug classes being antidepressants, stimulants, and antipsychotics. Treatment is expensive; indirect costs are more so. A U.S. study estimated an average cost of $3.2 million in 2003 U.S. dollars for someone born in 2000, with about 10% medical care, 30% extra education and other care, and 60% lost economic productivity.

Of that $3.2 million that each autistic person may cost, who do you think is at the receiving end of this spending? Possibly...pharmaceutical companies...that not only make the vaccinations but also make the drugs used to manage the disorder.

How could anyone choose to put their child at risk of developing a lifelong disabling disorder like autism in order to reduce (not even eliminate!) the chance of contracting measles?

Posted by: hodey | August 29, 2008 8:14 PM

Thank you for presenting both sides in this argument. The question regarding vaccines and autism is still somewhat open. The fact that the HHS conceded that Hannah Poling's autism is the result of her vaccines makes me think that it's not an open question but an answered question. The only real question is WHY do some children get sick from vaccines. Maybe study the sick children.

What I would like to see is a piece on vaccines and how they are produced, what they do in the body, and what can go wrong. Might scare A LOT of people away from vaccines.

Posted by: Knowthefacts | August 30, 2008 6:47 AM

The measles vaccine is the only live-virus vaccine mandatory for children. Polio, formerly a live virus vaccine, is now attenuated. It is well-known that polio can be spread as a result of vaccination (for one example, see case studies in Minnesota) when the live vaccine is given.

No long-term studies have been done on the effects of a live-virus measles vaccine. However, autism researchers have found vaccine-strain measles in the gastrointestinal system of children with autism. These children have measles titers that far exceed normal standards.

The fact that the MMR vaccine contains a live virus is a real concern. We get disease by breathing viruses or ingesting them where we have organs and immune functions designed to attack them. Injecting a live virus into the tissue of a child is not a natural means of getting disease and it throws the body into chaos trying to fight it off.

Until adequate safety studies have been done on vaccines containing live viruses, parents should continue to raise their concerns.

Posted by: Elizabeth | August 30, 2008 7:01 AM

My son spoke. My son got shots. My son stopped speaking. My son's Doctor committed suicide. My son's new Doctor is a Defeat Autism Now Doctor. New GFCF diet and supplements and he spoke again. His first words in six years..."Hi Daddy" the week before Father's Day 2008. I will not rest until every mother of an Autistic child hears "I Love you Mamma".

Wake up people these children are the canaries in the coal mine. If the bird dies you run. You do not debate the cause or potential cause. First do no harm.

You will know someone with autism soon. I pray that it will not be your son.

Posted by: Tanners Dad | August 30, 2008 8:47 AM

I am the mother of a formally (autism)diagnosed son who will soon be 11. Over the course of the past 8 years we have come to understand this a as a vaccine reaction issue.

That being said I believe the diagnosis rare is NOT 1 in 150. I believe (much like Michael Savage) that children are in fact being over diagnosed. And again like Savage I believe it too is to fatten the wallets of the drug cartels. Most parents are using pharmaceutical products in one way or another to help off set the effects of "autism".

Also, I believe since the CDC is in bed with these drug cartels that it does in fact help the CDC by (on the surface at any rate)disassociating the vaccine link. At the very least it is STILL keeping people guessing. With more questions than answers.

Back in the summer of 05 when California came out with the first decline in autism in a decade ( increased the possible association between vaccines and autism. In 06 the CDC came out with new averages of 1 in 166. How they came to these numbers I don't know. However, in 07 when the CDC came out with the latest ratio of autism of 1 in 150, they came to this conclusion by doing a count of the seven WORST states for ASD diagnosis and averaged the new ratio based EXCLUSIVELY on those 7 (43 short of the what I would call a true national average)states. Again to further the disassociation of vaccines and autism.


Posted by: Deborah | August 30, 2008 10:40 AM

Like Tanner's Dad, my son spoke a respectible 30 words or so and walked by the time he was 18 months old. On his 18 month well-baby visit, he received the MMR and DTaP shots on the same day. Several hours later, he was running a 105 fever, screaming these horrible high pitched shrieks and going into convulsions. His pediatrician said that his reaction was normal (NORMAL???). At the ER, they ran a CT scan and found that he had an encepalopathy. My son stopped speaking, my son stopped walking, my son was diagnosed with autism. For 5 years, he did not speak until, 2 weeks after we began his GFCF diet, he said "Daddy" on Father's Day.

But, of course, when the vaccine-thugs arrive, they will all tell you that we are lying. They will tell you that thousands of these eerily similar stories are fabrications and that we picked vaccines out of thin air. They will tell you that our children who are recovering never really had autism to begin with. Think about the current status quo when they do, and realize that those in power will do anything they can to stay in power.

Posted by: Craig | August 30, 2008 10:59 AM

Another thing...less than 200 cases of measles in a country with 300 million people, and 0 deaths. Wow! Everyone run for your lives! Where is the guy from Monty Python with the big cart walking through our streets yelling "Bring out your dead?"

Everyone saw through it. Except, of course, for the vaccine-thugs. This is an attempt to scare the public into being good boys and girls and getting their vaccines. And then we have all of these people yelling at those who don't vaccinate, saying that they are endangering everyone else. Well, if the pro-vaxxers had vaccinated, why are they worried? Shows you how little faith that people have in the vaccines, doesn't it? Because their vaccine might not have worked?

Oh, I know, the vaccine-thugs will say that vaccines aren't 100% effective, that we must maintain a 90% or better herd-immunity (I have always resented that phrase. I am not a cow, but seeing the mentality of the vaccine-thugs, it is plain to see that they are happily part of the herd). Well, Gerberding and Pauly prOffit need to quit telling us that they are 100% effective. And, if they were truly effective, then people shouldn't worry. Maybe we should look into WHY they aren't that effective.

Posted by: Craig | August 30, 2008 11:08 AM

With over 25 years of Nursing experience(mostly pediatrics) I feel "seasoned" enough to chime in on this topic.

I would NEVER Vaccinate a child these days. NO child can come out healthy after over 60+(SIXTY PLUS) Vaccines. You did know that right?

Actually, there is not a medication on the market (prescription or over the counter) that can be given across the board to EVERY adult without a serious negative consequence to someone. Everyones genetic makeup is different. What works for you can give someone else an Anaphylactic reaction. In addition, that is why meds are taken off the market, recalled and get "Black Box" warnings. So how can vaccines be ONE SIZE FITS ALL ? They can't ! And to start to mix them together in multi-dose shots only complicates things more as when a reaction occurs, how would anyone know what coaused it?

Did any parent who vaccinated their child even wonder about how these vaccines are tested and who are they infact tested on?

Do you personally know what is in them?
I doubt your doctor does either!

Get them while they are young...
Many young and new parents do not have a clue what it is like to bring a perfectly healthy child into a doctors office for a "shot" which is really more like 5 shots (or 3 in one) and a couple of others and to have a screaming child that then has seizures and THEIR LIFE IS NEVER THE SAME AGAIN.

And to top it off, the doctor and the company that makes the Vaccines are NOT liable for the damage caused from the Vaccines to YOUR child.

So while not every person who smokes cigarettes will get lung cancer, not evey child who gets vaccines will become neurogically impared or Autistic. However, we know that cigarettes DO infact cause Cancer. Could a smoker identify which cigarette is responsible for the cancer? Or was it a cumulative effect?


Unfortunately, being that there is an ongoing funneling of HUGE BIG $$$ for vaccines, for children injured by vaccines, for medications given to children injured by vaccines, for ONGOING care of these children, the government has a huge stake in allowing the drug companies all of this profit. It is easy to figure out... just follow the money !

Ohhh... and just some food for thought. Do you really believe that your pediatrician gives their own children all of the recommended Vaccines on the CDC Vaccine schedule?
I highly doubt it. Do you think they are going to tell you that? I doubt that even more highly. That would be risking their livelyhood.

Posted by: Seasoned Nurse | August 30, 2008 3:23 PM

there is a link. as long as the CDC continues to bury its head in the sand over the millions of reports worldwide from parents of vaccine-damaged children and continues to ignore the the blatant conflicts of interest of the ACIP (Advisory Council on Immunization Practices), it only has itself to blame for more and more citizens turning away from the bloated vaccine schedule.

And to the poster who said the live vaccines are extremely dangerous - I agree. But it isn't just measles that has a live vaccine. Vaccines for mumps, rubella, chicken pox and rotavirus are all live. All dangerous and supremely unnecessary.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 30, 2008 4:10 PM

Tanners Dad,
Your son's story is remarkable. Your son's doctor committed suicide? Why?

Posted by: anonymous | August 30, 2008 4:44 PM

Tanner's dad's story is indeed remarkable...perhaps even unbelievable. R

Posted by: R Finley | August 31, 2008 9:54 PM

We need brave, concerned soul from medical profession like "seasoned nurse" ( one of commentators above ). Someone posted her comments at immunization board, a popular website for a new mom. Many new moms are confused and stressed with so many vaccines that are given to their babies. One provax mom responded. "Seasoned nurse needs some professional help to make her lose her black helicopters, otherwise she is NEVER EVER going to be in touch with reality again."

What is going on to our nation's children is a real tragedy with 1 out 150 kids becoming autistic and 1 out of 6 becoming learning disabled.

What is more tragedy is the fact that there will always be people who try to supress the truth especially in the area of immunization. The number of vaccines added to children's immunization schedule is increasing every year.


Posted by: Anonymous | September 1, 2008 6:56 AM

Good source of info on immunization: NVIC.ORG
Good source of info about real stories from families with autistic children:

Posted by: Carla | September 1, 2008 10:22 AM

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