Samoa stopped vaccinating children and they began dying of measles — how did this happen?


An emergency ward run by AusMAT volunteers from Australia

In July 2018, two Samoan children died shortly after receiving their MMR vaccinations.

These deaths were caused by human error and not the vaccine per se. The vaccines were inadvertently mixed with expired muscle relaxant anaesthetic instead of water.

This tragic incident resulted in the suspension of the national measles vaccination program and loss of confidence in vaccine safety. Because of this, vaccine coverage for one-year-old children for the first dose of measles vaccine fell from 76% in 2012 to 31% in 2018…

More than one in five Samoan babies aged six to 11 months have contracted measles during this outbreak, and more than one in 150 babies in this age group have died.

How has the Samoan government responded? How successful have they been?

The Samoan government declared a state of emergency on November 15, setting the scene for a campaign of mandatory vaccination.

The government shut down on December 5 and 6 during a door-to-door vaccination campaign. People who had not been vaccinated were asked to leave a red flag or cloth outside their home.

Official estimates indicate 93% of the population have now been vaccinated. Achieving vaccination rates over 95% among children aged six months to four years will be key to stopping this measles outbreak.

They haven’t completely halted the outbreak, yet. Obviously, the precipitating events can’t be wholly reversed because the infected population is already sizable. But, a growing safety net is in place. Hopefully, the next time an accident – in any area of public health – provokes an ignorant public response, public officials will remember this disaster and work to prevent its reoccurrence.

72 people, mostly children have died. They didn’t have to.

I lived through a shutdown like this when I was a kid. Frankly, I don’t remember which disease. Broad public health vaccination was still a new thing happening during World War 2 and right after. The macabre springtime ritual among children – checking all our school friends to see who died over the winter – soon went away. Frankly, families who refused vaccination for their children were shunned as dangerous. As they were.

Anti-vaccination nutballs are a plague unto all

❝ An outbreak of measles four years ago at Disneyland focused attention on a growing health menace — the refusal of parents to vaccinate their children. The threat has gone international. The World Health Organization has just named the anti-vaccination movement among the 10 biggest global health crises…

❝ The “vaccine-hesitant” — the WHO’s politer term — often wave ignorant junk-science claims that vaccines can cause autism. This dangerous lie gained traction in a 1998 article published in the prestigious British journal The Lancet. It turned out that lawyers suing vaccine-makers were funding the author, Andrew Wakefield. Britain subsequently stripped Wakefield of the right to practice medicine.

❝ In this country, 18 states still allow “nonmedical exemptions” for vaccinating children based on a philosophical belief. Requests for such exemptions are rising in 12 of them.

New York state is seeing its most troubling measles outbreak in decades. Almost all the cases occur among ultra-Orthodox Jews, whose insular communities have been ripe for anti-vaccine propagandists. William Handler, an Orthodox rabbi in Brooklyn, told Vox that parents who “placate the gods of vaccination” are engaging in “child sacrifice…”

Once vaccination levels fall below 95 percent, epidemiologists explain, there aren’t enough people to hold the disease in check. And measles is highly contagious. The virus floats in the air and can live on surfaces for hours.

Scientifically-illiterate Americans have a perfect right to infect their families with preventable diseases in a number of states. Introducing contagion – of course – which especially threatens so many others whose circumstances are limited by income and age.

Doctors Without Borders Launch Massive measles vaccination campaign in Guinea

Doctors Without Borders says it is launching a massive measles vaccination campaign with Guinea’s government after at least 14 deaths and more than 3,400 cases were confirmed so far this year.

The aid group said Friday that thousands of people were left unprotected in 2014 and 2015 when the Ebola outbreak swept through the West African nation. Vaccination activities were reduced because of infection risks, and frightened families stayed away from health facilities…

MSF health policy analyst Dr. Mit Philips says Guinea now faces health issues without the funding and support promised during the Ebola outbreak to build better systems there. Ebola killed more than 11,300 people in the region and devastated health care systems.

Yup. Unforeseen consequences at work. Who might have foretold an epidemic outbreak grounded in fear of going to a clinic. Yet, Ebola in epidemic stage is so frightening the response was almost automatic.

Now, people have returned to strapped health clinics all too slowly and the measles vector expands into the unvaccinated population.

The ignoranus middle class anti-vaxxers of America should be required to spend a month or so in Guinea as volunteers. They can witness firsthand what life can be in a nation unprotected by basic vaccination. Which is how I grew up – not one year out-of-sequence; but, in an America that hadn’t yet instituted the whole range of vaccine protection now available to our children.

In case you wonder why I hold no forgiveness for folks fighting against vaccination.

Largest current US measles outbreak centered in for-profit prison system

Health officials in Arizona say the largest current measles outbreak in the United States is in part because some workers at a federal immigration detention center refuse to get vaccinated.

Authorities have confirmed 22 measles cases in Arizona since late May. They all stem from the Eloy Detention Center, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility managed by the private Corrections Corporation of America.

Pinal County health director Thomas Schryer said the outbreak likely began with a migrant but that detainees have since been vaccinated. Convincing employees to get vaccinated or show proof of immunity has proven much tougher, he said.

“And so they’re actually the ones that are passing along the measles among each other and then going out into the community,” Schryer said.

The facility includes about 350 CCA employees and an unknown number of ICE staffers, although Schryer estimates it’s about 100. ICE doesn’t publicly release staffing levels, nor does it require employees to be immunized. There are currently over 1,200 detainees being held at the facility…

Arizona Department of Health Services Director Cara Christ says the facility has been more responsive in the past few days and that a large number of CCA employees were immunized late last week. “Once they understand how important it is and the outcomes it can have on the community, they tend to cooperate. So we hope to get a cooperative response from ICE,” Christ said.

The problem is reckoned to be one of ignorance rather than stupidity.

Measles is highly contagious and preventable through vaccines. It was eradicated in the US in 2000. But the past couple of years have seen new cases in large part because of unfounded stupid fears that the vaccination causes autism in children, Schryer said. The symptoms are usually mild but can be deadly in babies, who cannot be immunized until they’re a year old…

In Arizona, health officials are providing free vaccines, sending physicians to the detention center and providing educational outreach to staffers in an effort to contain the measles spread.

Now, imagine a whole nation run by Reaganomics hustlers like CCA. Tax dollars diverted into for-profit replacements for public service systems. Increase the profit structure by hiring less-educated, less-qualified scabs. Cross your fingers and hope you don’t end up with so many people dying you attract attention.

Enough to make a Congressional Republican cry with joy.

A childhood vaccine that reduces risk of leukemia

Young children are routinely vaccinated against Haemophilus influenza type B, or HiB, a bacterium that can cause meningitis and other serious problems. But the HiB vaccine has an added benefit: It reduces the risk for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL, the most common childhood cancer, and now scientists know why.

Dr. Markus Müschen, the senior author of a new study published in Nature Immunology, explained that in infants, the immune system is more “nimble” than in older people. If they are exposed to HiB early in life — in day care, for example — their immune response is usually, but not always, well controlled, fighting the bacterium without causing serious illness.

But using a mouse model, Dr. Müschen and his colleagues found that in some cases, infection with the HiB bacterium triggers a vigorous immune reaction that activates two enzymes. These enzymes can cause mutations in certain types of blood cells, driving them into malignancy. When this happens, children are more likely to develop leukemia when they are 5 to 7 years old.

Dr. Müschen, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, said that the effect of the vaccine was a 20 percent reduction in risk for leukemia. “This seems small,” he said. “But it’s highly significant in large populations. Whatever activates the immune system early in life reduces the risk for ALL.”

It ain’t going to seem small to the parents of young kids who didn’t get leukemia.

Anti-vaccine mom no more — all seven of her kids get whooping cough


The Hills family – in healthier days

Writing on The ScientificParent blog, a chagrined Canadian mom announced that she is leaving the anti-vaxx movement after all of her seven children — four of them completely unvaccinated — have come down with whooping cough.

Writing from quarantine, and surrounded by sick kids, Tara Hills wrote she is “emotionally, a bit raw. Mentally a bit taxed. Physically I’m fine,” before admitting that not only are her own kids sick, but they may have exposed her five-month-old niece who is too young to be fully vaccinated.

What began with a cold brought into her home by her brother-in-law, turned into coughing by her kids leading to full-blown whooping cough in all seven children…

“We had vaccinated our first three children on an alternative schedule and our youngest four weren’t vaccinated at all. We stopped because we were scared and didn’t know who to trust,” she explained. ” Was the medical community just paid off puppets of a Big Pharma-Government-Media conspiracy? Were these vaccines even necessary in this day and age? Were we unwittingly doing greater harm than help to our beloved children? So much smoke must mean a fire so we defaulted to the ‘do nothing and hope nothing bad happens’ position.”

Hills explained that she had a hard time overcoming her biases and mistrust of “Big Pharma,” asking herself, “Could all the in-house, independent, peer-reviewed clinical trials, research papers and studies across the globe ALL be flawed, corrupt and untrustworthy?”

Now Hills says that years spent “frozen” out of fear of vaccinating her kids has the whole family frozen: confined to their home by a quarantine.

She said she hopes her mea culpa will make other families who have held back from getting their children vaccinated rethink what they are doing.

I appreciate her fear and cynicism. I can match cynicism with most anyone; but, I also have a lifetime of experience reading science from academia, research – public, private and corporate. The peer review procedures we have are the best chance we have so far for verification and validation at present. Honest researchers include funding sources for the reader to judge.

The biggest mistake skeptics make about vaccination, GMO, climate change, any science-based products/systems which may be profitable/or not – is relying on a sampling of non-science sources. That’s laziness in my mind. I spent two years of casual spare time at the millennium reading and searching before I settled on agreement with the dangers human beings had brought to the climate of this planet. I didn’t have to wait for broad political statements from bodies like the IPCC because I combed through many reports from folks doing the research. Then made up my mind based on the science.

Questions about vaccines are easier for me to decide because – being a cranky old geek – I lived through the era before most modern vaccines were available. As I’ve mentioned other times, I stood with my classmates in elementary school every spring while we counted up who didn’t make it through the winter. Whooping cough, mumps, scarlet fever, diphtheria, measles, influenza – all took their toll. And then we had summer and polio to look forward to.

Melinda Gates’ response to anti-vaccine fools is education, history

On the heels of the measles outbreak at Disneyland, Melinda Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation took aim at the vaccine naysayers who make these types of disease outbreaks more likely.

“We take vaccines so for granted in the United States,” Gates told the Huffington Post in a prerecorded interview published on Thursday. “Women in the developing world know the power of [vaccines]. They will walk 10 kilometers in the heat with their child and line up to get a vaccine, because they have seen death. [Americans have] forgotten what measles deaths look like.”

She added, “I’d say to the people of the United States: we’re incredibly lucky to have that technology and we ought to take full advantage of it.”

In response to the Disneyland outbreak, pediatric infectious disease specialist James Cherry told the New York Times the outbreak was “100 percent connected” to the anti-vaccine movement. “It wouldn’t have happened otherwise — it wouldn’t have gone anywhere,” he said.

The key is what the scientific community calls herd or community immunity. If every American of age was vaccinated, measles wouldn’t spread much further even if foreign travelers came into the country with the disease — as appears to be the case with measles.

Vaccinated people essentially act as barriers to measles outbreaks, since the disease can’t pass through them and infect other people. The awful truth of the anti-vaccine movement is that it puts the most vulnerable populations at risk: infants under 12 months of age, who can’t get vaccinated and are more susceptible to infection, and the elderly, who have a higher risk of death if they contract these illnesses.

Between religious nutballs whose anti-science hangups are reinforced by some dude behind a pulpit talking about an invisible dude sitting on a cloud in the sky — and conservative nutballs who indulge hangups that lead to unconcern about someone else dying from a condition we all can prevent – anti-science spookiness runs riot. They haven’t a clue.

Like that woman Melinda Gates talks about in the developing world, I grew up in a time and place where vaccines for many childhood diseases didn’t exist. Every spring we looked around at school to see who died over winter. Measles, scarlet fever, mumps, diptheria – all took their toll. Then we had the summer and polio to look forward to.

No – it wasn’t Africa or Asia. It was a factory town in southern New England. A town like every other in the United States at the time. No one was spared.

So, Melinda Gates’ response to anti-vaccine fools is education, history. My response to that is similar to Dr. King’s response when he was asked if civil rights laws would help bigots to love him. I don’t care if idjits love me. I just want to stop them from killing me and my family.

Hypocrite-of-the-week screams about unvaccinated migrants – opposes mandatory vaccination


Har!

Last week, Rep. Phil Gingrey wrote a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with a dire warning: Some of the child refugees streaming across the southern border into the United States might carry deadly diseases. “Reports of illegal immigrants carrying deadly diseases such as swine flu, dengue fever, Ebola virus and tuberculosis are particularly concerning,” Gingrey wrote. “Many of the children who are coming across the border also lack basic vaccinations such as those to prevent chicken pox or measles.”

Gingrey’s analysis carried an aura of credibility among conservatives, because, as Judicial Watch noted, the congressman is “also [a] medical doctor.” But his two-page letter is filled with false charges—there’s no evidence that migrants carry Ebola or that they’re less likely to be vaccinated—from an inconvenient messenger: The congressman has himself pushed legislation to discourage some kinds of mandatory vaccinations in the United States.

According to the World Health Organization, Ebola virus has only ever affected humans in sub-Saharan Africa. (It has been found in China and the Philippines, but has never caused an illness, let alone a fatality)…Gingrey’s misdiagnoses aren’t confined to Ebola. As the Texas Observer points out, when it comes to measles, children in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras are more likely to be vaccinated than children in the United States. None of those countries have recorded an outbreak of measles in 24 years. Kids in Marin County are more at risk.

And in 2007, he wrote an amendment that would allow parents to block their children from receiving HPV vaccines, which are designed to combat cervical cancer.

Nothing new about today’s Republicans being as ethically corrupt as they are economically ignorant, socially and politically bigoted. Some – obviously including Congress-slime Gingrey – ignore conflicts between their record and their lies.