Measles hits the unvaccinated – thanks woo wooers!

Measles on the face of this child

Measles on the face of this child

What continues to irritate me, and that means that anyone who reads this stuff I write will have to read my gripe again, is the damned and demented anti-vaccine movement. There’s an article in the Daily Telegraph concerning a current outbreak of measles reported in public health and hospital records in the UK.

I just hope that I am posting this to people who will spread the necessity for herd immunisation in communities where kiddies and babies are at risk to ensure that young parents vaccinate their children. It is so important to keep these diseases at bay.

As you know I come from the Far North Coast of NSW where there is a cute little, relatively well heeled town called Bangalow. One Meryl Dorey resides there and, until recently, fronted for an organisation she founded called the Australian Vaccination Network.

She was a vociferous misinformation specialist spreading and scare mongering all around the place. She came to prominence when a wee baby died because of a preventable disease – whooping cough. The baby died because it was too young to have received the start of the vaccination schedule to provide the protection that most of us take for granted because we were vaccinated against infectious childhood diseases when we were kiddies. So we had mild doses of these diseases by and large. Nothing is 100% sure any way.

Measles on this 7yr old's body

Measles on this 7yr old’s body

A monitoring group developed calling itself the Stop the Australian (Anti) Vaccination Network and its success has been to publish the scare-mongering of Dorey and her group which has finally forced the government regulator to demand that AVN to change its misleading name or be deregistered.

That’s the background to my more generalised gripe. I have also railed against Andrew Wakefield here in London who has been struck off the register and banned from practising medicine in the UK. Unsurprisingly he now lives in the US which is where Dorey hails from.

Andrew Wakefield - medic no more

Andrew Wakefield – medic no more

During the period of the MMR scandal that Wakefield virtually singlehandedly spearheaded, vaccination rates in the UK dropped from 92% to below 80%. The kiddies that missed out are now adolescents of 18 – 20.

These are the current victims of an upsurge in the incidence of measles in the UK. The rate is reported as being the highest in 18 years with 2016 confirmed cases by early 2013. The Daily Telegraph reported this and among the comments made to the article are some of the most uneducated and scaremongering statements, presumably in an attempt to misinform people of the benefits of vaccination while highlighting a singular case of infection after vaccination.

Anti-vaxxers behave in the same way as religites. They suffer from confirmation bias and cherry pick what data they can and then propose their own interpretation of that data. You have to deconstruct the comments to find anything worth a second glance. And the anti-vaxxers lie. They make a bald statement like 47,500 paralysed kids from Gates Foundation polio shots. This then takes an immense amount to time to track down the what and why of comments like this to lay the lie to rest and understand what the figure actually refers to which is a rise in India in the number of non-polio acute flaccid paralysis that has nothing to do with the vaccine.

Then some people comment on their own circumstances as though one can extrapolate from anecdotal evidence to a generalised community data base.

You are entitled to your own opinion but not entitled to your own facts. Apparently attributed to DP Moynihan. Well, he is right regardless.

There was a good blog article in 2009 on scienceblogs about the anti vaccination movement. The irony is, of course, that medical research and technology has contributed to a diminution in the mortality rate of human beings.

Rubella fell sharply when immunization was introduced

Measles cases 1944-1963 follow a highly variable epidemic pattern, with 150,000-850,000 cases per year. A sharp decliine follows introduction of the vaccine in 1963, with fewer than 25,000 cases reported in 1968. Outbreaks around 1971 and 1977 gave 75,000 and 57,000 cases, respectively. Cases were stable at a few thousand per year until an outbreak of 28,000 in 1990. Cases declined from a few hundred per year in the early 1990s to a few dozen in the 2000s.

Measles reported in the US before & after introduction of the vaccine

And, of course, there’s small pox. Hasn’t been a case world wide since 1979 but an estimated 300 million died from small pox in the 20th century. I am sure even the silly and dangerously misinformed anti-vaxxers are glad that a global public health effort was undertaken to rid the world of that little nasty virus.

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4 comments on “Measles hits the unvaccinated – thanks woo wooers!

  1. I feel like those of us with sense fight an uphill battle with opinion. Why the anti-vax rhetoric appeals to people is in it’s simplicity. No one wants to do any hard thinking before formulating an opinion and the anti-vaxx line of thinking is definitely for those who prefer not to think (I cannot think of a better spokeswoman than Jenny McCarthy, the exact stereotype of the non-thinking).

    Someone should have taught these people that the simple answer is rarely the right one and that reality is full of complexity and unknowns that must be discovered by science. Maybe then common sense would be more common.

    • Veronique says:

      Ha! Uphill battle – I can’t see it lasting. As these infectious diseases start spreading through communities again, either the anti-vaxxers will pull their heads in or their heads will be pulled in for them.

      These people aren’t interested in following data at all – obviously they have no sense of nedical history either. They really pontificate from a great height (I want to kick the plinth out from under them) about their opinion and then use confirmation bias to isolate their crappy little point.

      What worries me is the sheeples who won’t, can’t or wilfully decide, not to think who impose they disastrous anti-vax decisions on the communities in which they live. And they have the gall to call the public health departments selfish and not allowing ‘personal’ choice.

      Sorry – I know I rant a lot. 🙂

      • Oh I’m a ranter too, we ranters have to stick up for each other. What I am afraid of is the dogmatic nature of their beliefs. I am afraid that they will make up an infinite amount of lies and fabrications which will hold their silly little “truth” together, which could harm the world even more.

        There are many people who stupidly believe that AIDS is a government conspiracy to kill them off for whatever reason; there’s nothing to stop people believing that the government could be purposely infecting their “healthy, non-vaccinated child” with man-made measles to advance their nefarious agendas of vaccine poisoning.

        I would not put anything past an irrational, dogmatic mind. They have already proven they operate under a completely delusional worldview.

        • Veronique says:

          When it gets to that stage, I suspect that our pretend democracy will go out the window and it will become mandatory to vaccinate against infectious diseases or be banned from participating in a lot of community activities, like education and health services.

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