Measles Races Through Anti-Vax Haven

More than 1,200 people have been infected with the preventable disease in Wales, where health officials are blaming parents who refused the MMR vaccine for their children.

By | July 23, 2013

WIKIMEDIA, US DEPT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICESIn the late 1990s, many Welsh parents heeded the warnings of former researcher Andrew Wakefield, who published a now-retracted study in 1998 that linked the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism. Fifteen years later, even after the paper was found to be plagued with ethical problems and conflicts of interest, many parents still refuse the vaccine for their children, and a measles outbreak is now racing through Southwest Wales, according to The Wall Street Journal. More than 1,200 people have become infected by the virus that causes measles between November 2012 and this month.

Dai Lloyd is a doctor in Wales who has been treating many of the recent cases. “Despite the fact that it’s one of the greatest health measures ever invented by man or woman, there seems to still be a small residue of humanity that objects to the very idea of immunization,” Lloyd told WSJ. “If you go around the cemetery you can see the historical evidence of childhood slaughter from pre-immunization days.”

England, like the U.S., was poised to declare measles—a highly contagious disease that cause pneumonia, deafness, and, in roughly one out of 1,000 cases, death—“eliminated.” But the U.K. has now reported more than 1,100 cases in 2013 through May, a 64 percent increase from the same months in 2012. “It’s very galling we had measles eliminated and now we’ve got it again,” Paul Cosford, medical director of Public Health England, told WSJ.

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Avatar of: David Rye

David Rye

Posts: 1

July 24, 2013

Bob Grant is being disingenuous here. The parents’ concern was never about immunisation per se, but purely about the MMR vaccine. Immunisation in the form of separate vaccines was, and still is, available and, more importantly, acceptable to those parents concerned about Andrew Wakefield’s report. In most parts of the world, despite local government objections, the availability of these alternatives has ensured continued levels of immunity. In rural Wales, apparently, the government, supported by the scientific community, took the decision to deny the children vaccination by any other method than MMR. This left the parents, as far as they could understand, faced with a choice between autism and measles for their babies, and in the absence of evidence, they sensibly chose to risk measles.

The government may have had some excuse. They had already spent the budget, obviously, and there may have been contractual obligations, or it may simply have been an issue of their legal authority over the population. Whatever the reason, they took the decision to expose these children to the risk of infection until the parents gave in, as they are now doing. Some sort of object lesson, one can only suppose; callous, but understandable. We had no such excuse. This was simply an assertion of our own authority to decide what others must do, regardless of their wishes in the matter, and we were willing to see the inevitable resurgence of the measles virus to prove our point. In the event, however, we have proved nothing, save that immunisation is crucial to the elimination of disease, a fact that was never in doubt. All we know now that we did not know then is that, when our own interests are involved, we are no better than the governments and corporations whose interests we serve.

Avatar of: James Lachman

James Lachman

Posts: 4

July 24, 2013

Current MMR coverage across the UK is 94.5% for MMR1 and 88.6% for MMR2:

There is no data to suggest that there is a gap in coverage in the Swansea area so the effectiveness of the vaccine may need to be reconsidered.

Avatar of: Texas Aggie

Texas Aggie

Posts: 6

July 27, 2013

Neither of the previous two comments make much sense.  

Parents are not going to distinguish among vaccines.  They hear that  vaccination causes autism and then they refuse to have their children vaccinated.  Parents with little or no education in biology aren't going to do nuances.  All you have to do is read some of the rants by the antivaccination/vaccination causes autism groups to understand that.

And if the vaccine is ineffective in Wales, it will be ineffective everywhere and that does not seem to be the case.  The fact that there is an outbreak certainly does indicate that the kids were never vaccinated, especially since there is no evidence from the parents of these kids that they did in fact have their kids vaccinated.

Similar situations are now occurring in the US where children have actually died of whooping cough because too many people are not vaccinated for fear of all the awful things that vaccination is supposed to do to you.

Avatar of: Gwyn Isenhouer

Gwyn Isenhouer

Posts: 1

July 30, 2013

I live in a city where there is a large number of people who do not believe in vaccinations.  Two unvaccinated childen in my son's preschool went undiagnosed with whooping cough for several weeks.  Upon discussing this with one of the parents who does not vaccinate, I found out that she and several of her friends think it is all a big conspiracy by "big pharma" to make money.  She thinks it goes back all the way to Louis Pasteur and the germ theory, which she does not believe.  She does not think bacteria or viruses make you sick, instead she thinks you get sick from eating the wrong foods.  She referred to a website where she gets her information, so I looked it up.  A quack "doctor" making money as an expert witness cited peer-reviewed papers to back up her statements, but when I read those papers it was obvious that the doctor skewed what was stated in them to match her beliefs.  Trying to educate this person on scientific theory, microbiology, and cause and effect did absolutely no good. 

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