It would be a bad doctor who said, “So what?” we shouldn’t vaccinate. It needs thinking about carefully in context

It appears that deaths from measles are falling rapidly. That’s cause for celebration. Measles is pretty deadly, never forget that. For sure, part of this decline is misdiagnosing the real cause of death. But I accept a genuine decline.

The researchers found measles deaths worldwide fell from more than 535,000 in 2000 to around 139,000 in 2010. That’s a pretty big fall off (75% drop). We can’t put everything down to faking results.

The big question is: how much of the fall is due to the measles vaccination program? How much of it would happen anyway?

It is idle (and stupid) to simply dismiss any benefits, just because the measles vaccine seems very likely implicated in toxic nerve inflammations afterwards. If there is good and there is harm, the question is: do they balance?

No deaths is good. Would you rather have no deaths and autism? Or would you rather have the deaths than risk that any medical interference might trigger autism?

If you think the answer is easy, you either don’t understand the question, or you are ignorant and prejudiced, in my view. It’s a very difficult epidemiological question and it polarizes even holistic doctors.

I’m talking a LOT of deaths, for heaven’s sake. Every single day measles still claims 382 lives worldwide — a vast majority of them children under 5. Almost half of those deaths (47 percent) occurred in India, and more than one-third (36 percent) in Africa.

Other areas in southeast Asia accounted for 8 percent of deaths; the eastern Mediterranean region, 7 percent; the western Pacific region, 2 percent; and the Americas and Europe less than 1 percent each.

In the United States there have been no reported measles deaths since 2008 and very few actual cases indeed. That can only be due to the vaccination program, since I see no big improvements in public lifestyle or nutrition over that period to account for overcoming the disease.

Of course health officials are crowing: Vaccination is the only way to prevent measles, they say. Mass vaccination programs around the globe “were the main driver behind the huge fall in mortality,” the researchers said, noting more than 1 billion doses of measles vaccine were dispensed over the past decade.

Nearly all cases that did occur stemmed from foreign travel, and a majority of those who developed the disease had not been vaccinated, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last week.

Ah, well, they always say that. When people who have been vaccinated get they disease, they STILL mark it down as “not vaccinated” because, they say to themselves, there must have been a mistake, or the vaccine “didn’t take”!

And of course they still quote the “discrediting” of Andrew Wakefield, even though he was NOT discredited. Wakefield found that autistic kids were harboring a rogue measles virus in the gut.

But they sent in a journalist hack to discredit him and so now they don’t have to look into any problems caused by vaccination: there aren’t any, it was just a nasty, twisted doctor!

All in the garden is sweet smelling roses!

[April 23, 2012, The Lancet, online]