Friday, February 22, 2008

Measles scare

I'm watching a very scary show about measles.

According to WHO a population needs to have 95% immunisation to have "herd immunity" - I'm watching a show saying that London's rates of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) shots are about 75%. Apparently, the numbers of measles outbreaks are on the rise.

All this due to the MMR scare (link to the Science Museum's online exhibit).

Obviously, armed with this information I'd be a fool not to get Buddy the shots.

But not yet.

And that's not by choice. The MMR vaccine is given for the first time at 12 months.

The story featured a very angry mother whose little baby contracted measles because others have failed to inoculate their children.

Her baby seems to be ok, unlike these boys who were left disabled after contracting measles.

The boys’ doctors blame the now discredited research of Dr Andrew Wakefield for the boys’ condition. They say his claim that MMR could cause autism led to the outbreak because fewer children are being vaccinated.

Matthew Costen, 13, was blinded and paralysed after contracting measles last year. He is believed to have caught the disease from his friend Joe Quick, 9, who suffered partial paralysis to his left side and damage to his speech. Their condition originated from an area of south London where the take-up rate of MMR, which offers protection against measles, mumps and rubella, had fallen to 52%.

For medical reasons unrelated to MMR, neither boy could receive the vaccine. This meant they were dependent on other children being vaccinated to minimise their exposure to the infection.


quicksilver said...

The vaccine issue is not so simple as you suggest.
First a 13 year old boy should have been vaccinated, so exactly why wasn't he? The vaccine would have been before the Wakefield work was made public.
The age of 12 months for the measles vaccine is indicated in the UK but for many countries this would be much too soon.
The mother normally provides immunity to her children but now we have innoculated mums this immunity may not now be there.
So a successful past vaccine policy means we are now locked into the system to ensure safety in 2008 and onwards.
But the mother would have been given one of the two measles vaccines now too dangerous to give because of the risk of MS et al.
So we have no universally approved safe vaccine for measles if Andrew is right about gut inflammation.
Also if a child gets measles before the age of one year it is very dangerous.
Past natural immunity or mild forms of illness are now reliant on man made safe or unsafe vaccines or the risk of getting dangerous forms of measles at inappropriate ages.
We are in the middle of an impasse where only combined actions and research without condemnation of unwanted messages can help those at risk.
With more than 3 million illnesses we can never hope to combat them by man made interventions.
Modern hygiene et al has reduced most illness to acceptable levels.
Vaccine induced harm is in my view a bigger risk than the continued increase of vaccines for less and less dangerous conditions.

Noble Savage said...

I agree with some of what quicksilver has said. Vaccinations can lead us into a cycle of lowered natural immunity and that often results in tougher, more resilient strains popping up, which we then have to rely on more man-made vaccines to cure. Being pumped full of synthetic strains of diseases can sometimes cause more harm than it is meant to protect from.

I do believe in the effectiveness of most vaccines overall and recognise their importance. However, I would like to see more information distributed on their possible (and very real) side effects and natural ways to boost immunity in young children such as extended breastfeeding, diet, that we're not so reliant on the vaccines in the first place.

Personally, for my own daughter, I chose not to have her vaxed for the MMR until just recently, and she is nearly two. I am happy with my decision to delay it but I'm glad she's had it now.

Vol Abroad said...

Nah, I don't buy it. Back in the day, everybody breastfed - 'cause that's what there was - and kiddos died like flies. I just don't believe breastfeeding is some kind of magic bullet against diseases like measles, whooping cough, smallpox, scarlet fever and other such population ravagers.

(That doesn't mean I don't believe there are significant immunological and other health benefits to breastfeeding)

We're in danger of forgetting the reasons that people put so much effort into developing vaccines in the first place. These diseases are killers and maimers. We'll remember that soon enough when we lose enough babies.

Personally, I don't think kids should be allowed into daycare or nursery unless they have their shots papers.

Noble Savage said...

'Back in the day' they also had very poor nutrition, unsafe levels of hygiene, poor ventilation, unclean water, etc..that contributed to the spread of disease much more than not having vaccines did. I don't disagree that vaccines are important, I just think that there are other, complementary methods of boosting immunity that don't require injecting live strains of the disease into small babies with immature immune systems. That's why I support the idea of delaying certain vaccines until a child's immunity has already naturally been built up a little and better able to withstand any negative side effects. That is my personal decision and I certainly don't expect everyone else to feel the same way, but I also don't think that I should be told that I *have* to vaccinate my child on a certain, pre-determined schedule that doesn't take individual children's immune systems into consideration.

I didn't say that breastfeeding is a magic bullet of any kind but its important immunological properties have been downplayed over the years, mainly by formula companies who want to promote their product as 'just as good'. My main beef is with them promoting their product as equal or even superior to breastmilk in developing countries where safe drinking water is not readily available and natural immunity passed down from mothers is of even more importance than in the industrialized world.

At any rate, I would simply like to see more people educate themselves on vaccinations instead of just passively doing what their doctors say. I think it's important that we do our own research and feel wholly comfortable with our decisions instead of relying on second-hand interpretation of data. I'm thankful for vaccines but I shouldn't have to feel that my doctor is suspicious of me or irritated with me for simply asking some questions before submitting my child to the injections. I would think they would encourage patients to understand the information but some seem to find it merely an annoyance, which I think is sad and kind of scary.

Vol Abroad said...

Oh yeah, the GPs here have vacs on their points system - so you're not just an annoyance if you don't vaccinate "on time" - you're costing them money. Every time I talk to my GP I can see her mentally calculating the points she can claim. Makes me sick. And I would suspect that part of the reason they're annoyed with you for asking questions is because they DON'T KNOW the answers.

I'm really pro-breastfeeding and still breastfeed Buddy and yes I think the formula companies are full of crap, but I just don't think human milk fights measles. However, I'm 100% sure that a baby who gets measles and is nursing for comfort is much more likely to get the nutrition and hydration he/she needs and is more likely to be able to ward off secondary infections.

It may well be better to wait to vaccinate in the normal course of events, but given the measles outbreaks in London and the low levels of inoculations I'm not waiting. No way.

Noble Savage said...

I didn't realise that the GPs have a points system for vaccinations -- that makes so much sense as to why I was given so many lectures and rolled eyes for not just 'doing what they say'! The light bulb has clicked on. The nurse who gives them even had the nerve to get all gloaty when I finally did bring my daughter in her for her MMR. I had said all along that she would have it, just not yet, but they couldn't respect that. They wouldn't even let me see the ingredient list when I asked! How is that supposed to instill confidence in me?

Oh, I don't think breastmilk can cure measles either. I was referring more generally to a myriad of vaccinations, not just MMR. Take the pneumococcal vaccine for example. It is supposed to guard against pneumonia and meningitis in children under 2 and in the elderly. These are diseases that are generally more common in non-breastfed babies and/or children who are in daycare or nurseries because they come into contact with many other children, some of whom may be ill. Since my daughter was breastfed and stayed at home with me, I didn't feel it necessary for her to have that one. She will be two in a few weeks and hasn't keeled over from either disease yet, though you'd think I'd suggested shipping her to a leper colony with the way the nurse reacted. Sigh.

Anyway, I totally respect anyone's right to vaccinate on schedule, delay them or not have them at all. If they have done all of the relevant research and have decided on a course of action they are comfortable with and feel is best for their families, then I can't find fault with that. It just gets up my nose when people do absolutely no reading on it, ask no questions and then dog on other people for making a different choice. Grrr...

quicksilver said...

Noble Savage gets most things right like all sensible people.
Waiting a little bit gives you the edge if there is trouble in the vaccines.
Toxicity is directly related to weight. A little baby gets a much worse deal than a bigger baby.
Boys are weaker than girls at this early age.
Repeat injections are a risk too far for me. If the vaccine works then the response will come the first time.
If it is necessary to give booster science allows us to check to see if the first vaccine has taken.
But in the one size fits all we are all guided to an end result of 1 child in 4 being asthmatic although science in all its 21st century advances has absolutely no idea why this particular illness has gone from zero to epidemic levels in rise with vaccines.
If they don't know simple things like this then TAKE CARE with vaccines which contain sometimes a brain destroying chemical present which when diluted evenly throughout the body has been filmed destroying brain cells. WOW! Thats some powerful medication!