Deliberate disinformation aids ignorant measles outbreaks

❝ A large measles outbreak in Washington state shows no sign of abating.

According to the State Department of Health, there are now at least 54 cases of the illness, all but one of which were located in Clark County, Washington, just across the river from Portland, Oregon. Directly to the south, the Oregon Health Authority has reported at least four cases. Within Clark County, the vast majority of diagnoses are of children 10 years old or younger.

❝ Measles — an airborne virus that can lead to lung infections, brain damage, and death in the worst cases — was responsible for thousands of deaths in the U.S. each year prior to the discovery of a vaccine in 1963. Measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, but in the last year, there has been a worldwide resurgence of the virus, with cases increasing 30 percent, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). One of the main drivers of this trend is a growing reluctance to vaccinate children, so much so that the WHO listed the anti-vaccination movement as one of its top ten threats to global health in 2019…

❝ According to a 2018 study by the American Journal of Public Health, combating the problem has been made even more difficult by Russian trolls spreading disinformation on the subject. As ThinkProgress has previously documented, Kremlin-backed disinformation agents have specifically focused on wedge issues designed to divide Americans — like Black Lives Matter and immigration issues. Anti-vaccination, it seems, has also fallen into that category.

Ignorance ain’t bliss, folks. It can kill your children and the kids around them. RTFA!

I grew up in the age when the only vaccine available for regular childhood vaccination was for diphtheria. It was common practice every spring among my playmates to gather in the schoolyard first nice day we were allowed outdoors at recess and see who didn’t make it through the winter. We lost one or two kids every winter. Even though measles could and would land in our factory town any time in the year, winter was always the most worrisome. Flu was a big killer. And, yes, we worried as much about polio in the summer. Still, the number one killer in our neighborhood was measles.

37 thoughts on “Deliberate disinformation aids ignorant measles outbreaks

  1. Civil Defense says:

    Russian propaganda may be responsible for the persistence of measles as conspiracy theories about vaccinations spread across the Internet, according to researchers. (Newsweek 2/14/19) “The same Russian trolls who attempted to provoke racial tensions and influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election were also responsible for spreading propaganda against vaccinations. Their efforts may have helped cause the measles outbreak that infected tens of thousands and killed dozens in Europe last year, researchers told Radio Free Europe.” See
    A 2018 report by the American Public Health Association, titled “Weaponized Health Communication: Twitter Bots and Russian Trolls Amplify the Vaccine Debate,” came to a similar conclusion. “Whereas bots that spread malware and unsolicited content disseminated antivaccine messages, Russian trolls promoted discord. Accounts masquerading as legitimate users create false equivalency, eroding public consensus on vaccination,” the report said. See

  2. Judas goat says:

    On Thursday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff wrote open letters to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai about his concern that the technology companies are allowing the spread of anti-vaccine misinformation.
    He wrote to Zuckerberg, “Facebook and Instagram are surfacing and recommending messages that discourage parents from vaccinating their children, a direct threat to public health, and reversing progress made in tackling vaccine-preventable diseases.”
    That open letter went on to ask Zuckerberg whether distributing medically inaccurate information about vaccines violated the social media platform’s terms of service and whether Facebook accepts paid advertising from anti-vaccine activists, among other questions.

  3. Quislings says:

    Vaccine misinformation and Infowars: Researchers wary of Facebook’s embrace of ‘Groups’ : “We need to know more about the networks and members of groups that spread false information and target individuals,” said Jonathan Albright of Columbia University. (NBC News 2/16/19) “…The algorithm that powers the right rail of “suggested groups” isn’t public, and a Facebook spokesperson declined to give details other than saying they are tailored to individual users. But researchers like Renée DiResta, who studies online disinformation as director of research at cybersecurity company New Knowledge, have found Facebook “actively pushes” users down a rabbit hole of increasingly misinformed, conspiratorial and radical communities.”

  4. Santayana says:

    Die Impfung [“The vaccination”] Caption: “It occurs to me that little good comes from poison or from Jews.” Der Stürmer, (February 1932), a German tabloid-format newspaper that was a significant part of Nazi propaganda, and vehemently anti-Semitic.

    • Trojan Horse says:

      The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), founded under the name Dissatisfied Parents Together (DPT) in 1982, is an American 501(c)(3) anti-vaccine organization which has been widely criticized as a leading source of fearmongering and misinformation about vaccines. [Wikipedia]

          • AMumLife says:

            I don’t think that autism is the biggest concern for being anti-vaxx, its not my biggest concern; although the rate of autism has definitely risen in line with increased vaccines. The issue is the lack of transparency from the government, doctors, and pharmaceutical companies about serious and life threatening reactions, some of which are outlined in the inserts, but none of which doctors are willing to highlight.

          • moss says:

            Reply to amumlife’s comment:

            The inserts you link to include the scary points you highlight as having a frequency less than 1 to 10 in 1000 which defines “uncommon”. Essentially insufficient data to establish a sound percentage as great as the number adjudged as “uncommon”. Now, maybe you quibble with all of the math used to derive these standards – although they are common to many medical studies; but, you run the risk of sitting indoors safe and sound from all but an asteroid impact in your neighborhood if you’ve decided events too small to reach the characterization of “uncommon” rule your lifestyle.

            I live in a small community. About 100 families. Maybe 130 families if I add in an even smaller adjacent community. To my knowledge, there has never been a murder in this larger body over the 35 years of its existence. Still, in our society (the United States) there is always a chance of violent death often by an armed individual, either criminal or deranged. There is a larger chance of being killed by someone driving an automobile, drunk, deranged or incompetent. Does that mean we should never walk through our community? Should we be armed to defend ourselves? Should we run and hide behind trees when we see a car approaching down any street.

            Yes, the design is absurd. I think it matches the level of your refusal to consider the mathematics determining what is deemed “common”, “uncommon”, “very uncommon”. The burden of proof lies with those who reject laws governing the safe use of vaccines within a whole population. For the refusals of individuals does in practice affect portions of the whole population. Their neighbors, peers, and their children.

          • AMumLife says:

            It is not “unknown” in the Priorix insert, 1 in 1000. Maths is something that is easily fudged to satisfy bias outcome.

            We can go around in circles discussing the issue of vaccinating Vs not vaccinating for days on end, and use many far-fetched  analogies for both sides of the arguement.

            The bottom line is, nothing is foolproof, there may be some benefit to vaccinating including potentially protecting our communities, but it also comes with a price, a risk to our health as it manipulates our DNA, and in some way we are all damaged by vaccinations.

            Governments around the world recognise this and offer vaccine damage payments, in the UK success rates of payment is small, only 1.5% of calms are paid. An example of how poorly this is is judged is, there was a girl who became deaf in one ear from a bad batch of the MMR vaccine, no compensation was granted as she was not disabled enough, but another child who became deaf in both ears was compensated. Is this fair?

            Theres are stories like this all over the web / reports outlining damages caused. And in some cases vaccines have caused more damage then good. 

            In my blog post linked on one of my comments above, i have bullet pointed and reputedly sourced this information: From 2007 – 2017 MMR Vaccine Drug Analysis shows 18 fatalities related to the vaccination and 1,692 reported reactions. In total there have been 8 fatalities from actual measles in the same time period (measles death report). You judge for yourself.

            Both vaccinating and not vaccinating is a risk, i chose the latter. But
            I respect decisions of individuals and parents on either side of this argument, for me and my family it wasn’t a light hearted decision, but it was an educated and fully informed one.

          • eideard says:

            Just hold in the back of what you call your conscience any future damage to those around you who had no voice in your choice. No one else can take responsibility for what you seem to feel is a satisfactory examination of science and public health.

          • AMumLife says:

            Your comment is absurd. A sense of right and wrong is not black and white in the choice of vaccination. My families decision is based on facts, not a sales pitch from a doctor or pharmacutical rep. I have written two posts about vaccinations, feel free to read them. This is my final comment on this subject.

          • eideard says:

            You choose your poison not only for yourself; but, your children. The cyber equivalent of backyard gossip condemns children to 14th century disease. Did you have chickenpox as a child? If you did, the science you fear will tell you that you probably have that virus still living alongside your spine – and have a high likelihood of experiencing shingles in your elder years. There is a vaccine for that. I was a volunteer test subject for the 1st generation and my wife and I have another month to wait for the second shot of the even better second generation. The abuse of science by corporate profiteers is an economic and dangerous crime to be prosecuted. Certainly, regulated. As much of a crime against society as charlatans and priests who condemn whole cultures with a fear of science and medicine. I will never choose to guide health by gossip instead of science.

          • AMumLife says:

            Yes i did have chickenpox as a child and i’m glad that i did. Shingles is not life threatening and is easily treated. I don’t deny science, i’m all for science, but i don’t believe in manipulating DNA. Good luck being a lab rat.

          • eideard says:

            Since being a lab rat means I may advance medical safety and health for our species, it is a small matter of pride I rarely even discuss. No different than being arrested 61 years ago for sitting beside a couple of Black friends at a lunch counter in a state where that was illegal. Progress based on reason and sound scientific analysis often requires sticking your neck out. BTW, it was arguments grounded in science and psychology that finally led the Supreme Court to overturn the American version of apartheid.

            And good luck with “treating” shingles. Mostly that involves painkillers till it finally ends. Unless, of course, you have a locus affecting your head, face, capacity to breathe and swallow. I worked for years in one of the leading medical communities in the world. Sadly, I’ve seen the results of neglected health – for any reason – many times.

          • moss says:

            Last time round:

            Your third paragraph is wholly illogical, absurd in the face of the history of all the benefits since the start of vaccination, self-delusion beyond hoax in the face of scientific measurement and standards. It is a shame what you choose to inflict upon your children. What you may inflict upon your neighbors is closer to criminal. But, then, that’s why there are many nations based on the best available, scientific information, fought for through political barriers as often as ignorance. I will continue to support laws based upon the best available knowledge.

          • AMumLife says:

            What i “inflict” upon my child is healthy, pure, and clean living. Why would i knowingly allow even the slightest chance of damage to his body via a cocktail of vaccinations, particularly when his little body hasn’t even developed his immune system.

            What i find criminal is the fact pharmaceutical companies make billions of profit from vaccinations, what more without fully informing public of the REAl RISKS. Is it ok that children become damaged by vaccination? Because millions of parents have to live with outcomes of severe vaccination damage. What’s that in comparison to actually contracting a disease and the likelihood of developing complications in a first-world country? its slim, because we have well nourished children, clean environments, and easily accessible medical care.

            Its ignorant to ignore the facts, and if you want to continue burying your head in the sand, then be my guest.

      • Russian roulette says:

        “The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices…to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill…and suspicion can destroy…and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own – for the children and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is that these things cannot be confined to the Twilight Zone.”
        Rod Serling, closing narration, “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street”, which originally aired March 4, 1960 on CBS.

  5. Demarcation says:

    Germany, like the US, is facing a resurgence of measles. But the country’s health minister isn’t taking things lightly.
    Health minister Jens Spahn is proposing a blanket fine for any parents of unvaccinated children. The fine runs up to €2,500 ($2,790). He also suggests banning unvaccinated children from all kindergarten and daycare facilities to protect those who are too young to vaccinate and those with medical conditions that prevent them from being vaccinated.
    In an interview published over the weekend, Spahn explained that immunization is a “social responsibility,” adding that “measles vaccinations save human suffering. We protect ourselves and others.”
    “The draft bill requires all children to have both measles vaccines recommended by the Standing Vaccination Commission when entering the school or kindergarten. The same applies to people who work in community facilities or who have contact with the children: educators, teachers and medical staff.”

  6. Science be damned says:

    Measles Virus May Wipe Out Immune Protection For Other Diseases (NPR)
    Two new studies illustrate how skipping the measles vaccine carries a double risk. Not only does it leave a child vulnerable to a highly contagious disease, but also, for individuals who survive an initial measles attack, the virus increases their vulnerability to all kinds of other infections for months — possibly even years — after they recover.
    The research begins to explain something surprising that happened when the measles vaccine was introduced in the U.S. in the 1960s. Rates of childhood deaths from other diseases fell precipitously. The same thing happened as the vaccine was introduced around the world.
    But what is it about the measles vaccine that seems to provide protection from more than just measles? The new studies published this week in the journals Science and Science Immunology provide substance to what has been the leading theory: Measles can damage the immune system by erasing the body’s memory of previously encountered antigens.
    See also “Long-term measles-induced immunomodulation increases overall childhood infectious disease mortality” (May 2015)

  7. Puzzling Evidence™️ says:

    The majority of Facebook advertisements spreading misinformation about vaccines were funded by two anti-vaccine groups, including one led by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., according to a study published this week.
    The World Mercury Project, headed by Kennedy, and a California-based organization called Stop Mandatory Vaccination bought 54 percent of the anti-vaccine ads on Facebook, the study found.
    The report in the journal Vaccine is the first to study anti-vaccine advertisements in Facebook’s advertising archive. The platform, a publicly available and searchable repository, was introduced by Facebook in 2018 to improve transparency related to certain forms of advertising considered of “national importance.” The social media giant has repeatedly come under fire for allowing the promotion of anti-vaccine material.
    See also: “Vaccine-related advertising in the Facebook Ad Archive”

  8. Doc says:

    There is now an imminent threat of measles spreading in various regions globally, as COVID-19 led to a steady decline in vaccination coverage and weakened surveillance of the disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. public health agency said on Wednesday.
    Measles is one of the most contagious human viruses and is almost entirely preventable through vaccination. However, it requires 95% vaccine coverage to prevent outbreaks among populations.

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