Although America's Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has confirmed there have been no deaths from measles in the US since 2003, 108 deaths have been reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System following the MMR vaccine. The deaths relate to one of four different measles vaccines used in the US over the past 10 years.
Vaccine Impact, which researched the data, believes the deaths could be merely the tip of the iceberg. The reported deaths "probably reflect a much lower number than actual deaths, since most doctors and health authorities believe vaccines are safe, and would not normally attribute a death to a vaccine and actually report it," they say.
To support the figures, the US Department of Justice has agreed settlements on 111 claims following death from the MMR vaccine since 2004.
The group also argues that the vaccine has not necessarily been the reason for the drop in deaths from measles. Many children still catch measles even after vaccination, and so it may not be having the protective effect its proponents suggest, they say.
The report comes at a time when Californian authorities are considering restricting the exemptions that are currently allowed for the MMR; refusals on moral, philosophical or religious grounds may be denied, and only those for medical reasons will be permitted. The tightening follows an outbreak of measles in the state that began around Christmas. Around 107 cases have so far been confirmed.