By Lyn Redwood, RN, MSN. President Children’s Health Defense
When the U.S. launched measles vaccination in the 1960s, facilitated by generous federal funding, there were experts who questioned the need for a vaccine, given the low and falling measles morbidity rate and the greater than 98% decline in mortality since 1900. In March 1963 the first two measles vaccines were approved for use in the United States: a live vaccine produced by Merck (Rubeovax) and a formalin-inactivated one produced by Pfizer (Pfizer-Vax Measles–K).
In 1967, a campaign was launched to eliminate measles from the United States. “To those who ask me ‘Why do you wish to eradicate measles?’” wrote Alexander Langmuir, chief epidemiologist from 1949 to 1970 at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, I reply with the same answer that Hillary used when asked why he wished to climb Mt. Everest. He said “Because it is there.” To this may be added, “… and it can be done.”
Today, 50 years after the introduction and widespread use of measles vaccination, we continue to see outbreaks of measles. This demands that we question how effective the goal to eradicate measles has been. Our public health agencies often point a finger at those who are vaccine hesitant or “anti-vaxxers” (typically parents of children who had significant adverse events following vaccination) as being responsible for outbreaks of measles. Such finger-pointing responses are overly simplistic and do not acknowledge the accumulating body of science questioning the effectiveness and safety of the measles vaccine.
Rather than acknowledge measles vaccination’s numerous failures—the inadequacy of vaccine derived maternal antibodies to protect infants from infection in their first year of life before they are old enough to be vaccinated, the dramatically increased risks of developing a progressive, disabling and fatal brain disorder subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) if an infant acquires measles the first year of life, and the evolution of mutant measles virus strains that are resistant to the measles vaccine—and work to address these critical concerns in vaccine policy, vaccine promoters keep recycling these obvious failures of the vaccine into an absurd and dangerous argument in favor of more of the same.