Over 30 years of use, the measles vaccine has never adequately protected children. In fact, it has only made measles a more dangerous disease.
The largest measles epidemic of recent times is about to descend upon Britain. Despite the fact that 93 per cent of pre-schoolers get jabbed with the triple measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) in the UK, the Health Department has laid aside lb20m to invest in a vaccination campaign aimed at seven million children aged from 5 to 16. Even those who have had true measles (which offers lifelong immunity) or have already been immunized will nevertheless be given a just-in-case booster shot.
In our very first issue of What Doctors Don't Tell You we warned of the dangers of the then recently released MMR shot. This month we're revisiting the subject. Dr Viera Scheibner, an Australian principal research scientist who developed a true breathing monitor for babies at risk of cot death, saw that her product mostly sounded alarms after babies had been vaccinated. This prompted her to study thousands of medical papers on immunization. The medical evidence she has amassed conclusively demonstrates that the measle vaccine doesn't work.
In the US, with immunization rates as high as 98 per cent in some areas due to enforced vaccination, epidemics of measles still occur at three- to four year intervals.
Epidemiologists have a hard time explaining this recurrence, and most arguments over the measles vaccine failure have blamed low compliance (even when more than three-quarters of children are vaccinated); improper storage of vaccines; even vaccination at too early an age. What they ignored over some 30 years of use was the more plausible and obvious reason: the simple inability of any measles vaccine devised to date to prevent measles.
When the measles vaccine was being developed in the Sixties, its detractors argued that measles is a mild disease with rare serious complications and negligible fatality in normal children. About half the recorded deaths occur in persons with serious chronic disease or disability. It is also well-known that measles is an important developmental milestone in the life and maturing processes in children.
Nevertheless, by 1965, several vaccines had been introduced for the prevention of measles, including one killed virus vaccine and two versions of weakened live vaccines.
Soon after measles vaccine was first released, a new and serious problem arose: vaccinated children were contracting what became known in the medical literature as atypical measles, an especially vicious form of measles resisting treatment.
A 1965 study in Cincinnati described nine cases which occurred there two years earlier during an epidemic of measles (Am J Dis Child, 1965; 109: 232-7). The authors followed 386 children who had received three doses of killed measles virus vaccine in 1961. Of these 386, 125 had been exposed to measles and 54 had developed the disease. Many of these children were so ill with high fever and pneumonia that they had to be hospitalized.
Two years later, a study described the occurrence of atypical measles in 10 children who had received killed measles virus vaccine five to six years earlier. Nine children developed pneumonia which resisted all treatment (J Am Med Ass, 1967; 202: 1075-80).
Serious reactions also occurred in children originally injected with killed measles virus, and then re-vaccinated with live measles virus (N Engl J Med, 1967; 277 (5): 248-251).
Another illness sparked by the measles vaccine was so-called "mild measles" with under-developed rash, which exposes children in later life to dangers of chronic diseases, including cancer.
One study found evidence of a relationship between lack of rash in measles and increased incidence of degenerative and autoimmune diseases (The Lancet, 5 January 1985). Many practitioners witness that cancer patients have a particularly small number of infectious diseases of childhood to report in their medical history.
Outbreaks among the vaccinated
Against all the evidence, measles vaccines continued to be described as effective and safe by some, all the while the medical literature teemed with reports of ineffectiveness and of serious reactions (see box, this page).
A study published in Pediatrics in 1970 investigated an outbreak of measles in Florida from December 1968 to February 1969 and found there was little difference in the incidence of measles among vaccinated and unvaccinated children. The only significant difference was in how the disease developed. While 43 per cent of unimmunized children developed a rash, only 12 per cent of those vaccinated developed a proper measles rash (Pediatrics, 1970; 46 (3): 397-402).
In 1971, the American Journal of Public Health conceded that measles was on the increase and that "eradication, if possible, now seems far in the future" (Am J Public Health, 1971; 61 (11): 2304-10).
Reports of vaccine failure and atypical measles in vaccinated children continued. One study in the city and county of St Louis, Missouri, described an epidemic of measles over 1970 and 1971, during which 130 children were hospitalized and six died. The attack rate was much higher in vaccinated than unvaccinated children. In this case, vaccine failure was admitted as the major contributor to this epidemic (J Pediatrics, 1972; 81: 217-30).
Other studies showed that measles vaccines were not provoking a proper immunologic response in vaccinated children. In one report, measles antibodies were found in the blood of five from seven unvaccinated children with a measles infection, but in only one of seven previously vaccinated children with clinical measles, and in only one of seven previously vaccinated well children who had been injected with the weakened measles virus vaccine (J Pediatrics, 1973; 82: 798-801). While measles vaccines were effective in elevating measles neutralizing antibody in a number of children (although not in all), this was demonstrated to be irrelevant in preventing the disease (Pediatrics, 1971; 48 (5): 715-29).
Nevertheless, by 1975, in a widely distributed Public Health Report entitled "The benefits from 10 years of measles immunization in the United States", authors J J Witte and N W Axnick claimed victory over measles in 1978 by vaccination, and the US government predicted a measles free country within three years.
An adult disease
Not surprisingly, all the pro-vaccine researchers and government officials passed lightly over the fact that measles epidemics continued to occur consistently in fully vaccinated children. They also ignored the fact that measles was suddenly becoming an adult disease.
By 1975, not only was the number of reported cases of measles six times higher in the first half of 1975 compared with 1974, but more and more adults were contracting measles (J Am Med Ass, 1976; 235: 1028-31).
Not even booster vaccination of previously vaccinated children made any difference. One study in 1979 warned of an increasing number of adolescents contracting measles. While in the pre-vaccine era 90 per cent of all measles patients were 5 to 9 years old, once the measles vaccine was introduced, 55-64 per cent of measles patients were older than 10 years. The average age of patients during the measles outbreak in the UCLA was 20-24 years (Ann Int Med, 1979;90 (6): 978-80).
Furthermore, once vaccines were introduced, whether or not a patient had measles or had been vaccinated didn't seem to correlate with what was generally considered evidence of immunity in the blood.
Re-vaccination of these young adults was associated with high rates of
major side effects, with about 17 per cent reporting significant fever, eye pain and the need for bed rest.
By 1981, instead of achieving eradication of measles, the US was hit repeatedly by major epidemics of measles, mostly in fully vaccinated communities. Atypical measles persisted as a "continuing problem", according to E M Nichols (Am J of Public Health, 1979; 69 (2): 160-2). The age of those contracting measles continued to climb well above 10 years and was associated with serious illnesses. Adults and babies below the age of 2 years, in some cases only a few months old both populations free from disease before the advent of vaccination were now contracting measles.
By 1984, the establishment blamed these outbreaks on use in the Sixties of what the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now termed the "ineffective formalin-inactivated ('killed') measles vaccine", which had been administered to 600,000 to 900,000 individuals from 1963 to 1967 ( MMWR, 4 October 1984).
However, other studies demonstrated significant failure among the supposedly improved vaccines as well. One outbreak of measles occurred in junior high schools in Hobbs, New Mexico, where 98 per cent of students had been vaccinated against measles with the live vaccine shortly before the outbreak began (MMWR, 1 February 1985).
Another outbreak of measles occurred in a secondary school population in which more than 99 per cent had records of vaccination with live measles vaccine (New England J Med, 1987; 316 (13): 771-4). Another issue of the MMWR (2 September 1988) dealt with 76 measles outbreaks in the United States. Most of the cases described were primary vaccine failures.
During some outbreaks, re-vaccination with the same vaccines was recommended, even though the scientific evidence demonstrated that re-vaccination was ineffective. One study showed that antibody levels in re-immunized children may fall after several months to very low levels, and that children vaccinated twice may still experience clinically recognizable measles, although in a milder form.
The Next Generation
This observation highlighted another looming problem, namely, that generations of children with so-called "inadequate immunity" would grow into adults with no placental immunity to pass on to their children, who would then contract measles at an age when babies are normally protected by maternal antibody.
This was indeed confirmed by another study, which demonstrated that "hemagglutinin-inhibiting and neutralizing antibody titers are lower in women young enough to have been immunized by vaccination than in older women" (J Pediatrics, 1986; 108 (1): 671-6).
Perhaps the most unfortunate thing about striving to eliminate measles by vaccination is that there is no clear need to do so. A large group of Swiss doctors formed a working committee questioning the Swiss Health Department's US inspired MMR policy. When the process of general inflammation is suppressed, they said, measles may subsequently affect the ears (otitis), the lungs (pneumonia) or the central nervous system, giving rise to the feared complication: encephalitis.
"We have lost the common sense and the wisdom that used to prevail in the approach to childhood diseases," they concluded.
Adapted from Vaccination: 100 years of orthodox research shows that
vaccine represents a medical assault on the immune system, by Viera Schreiber, Ph. D., Australian Print Group 1993. To order copies, send Aus$30 to Dr Scheibner, 178 Govells Leap Road, Blackheath, New South Wales 2785, Australia.