Measles & Mumps on the Rise in the US Again: Are Vaccines Safe?
The CDC reported 131 new cases of measles in the first seven months of 2008, none resulting in deaths but 15 resulting in hospitalizations. Despite a call for booster shots for mumps vaccine in the 1990's, with a goal of elimination of the disease by 2010, the US had an outbreak of 6584 mumps cases in 2006. 85% of the cases were in eight contiguous midwestern states, 85 hospitalizations and no deaths, and 76% of the cases occurred between March and May 2006.
The US Supreme Court mandated the states' right to mandate immunization in 1905. Almost every child in the US receives the MMR vaccine in the first year of life and a booster shot before entering school. Most public schools require proof of vaccination, yet some parents elect to opt out of the practice. They may then choose to home school their children. A rift in the social fabric - both in the US and UK - has developed between the individual's right to choose and responsibilities to the social community. Parents who opt out of vaccination have come to the conclusion that MMR vaccine and the rise in childhood autism are linked. A recent study [Hornig M, Briese T, Buie T, Bauman ML, Lauwers G, et al. 2008 Lack of Association between Measles Virus Vaccine and Autism with Enteropathy: A Case-Control Study. PLoS ONE 3(9): e3140 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003140 ] finds no association between the two. Today a UK doctor, Andrew Wakefield, faces professional misconduct charges for raising concerns about the safety of the MMR vaccine. Multiple studies have been done and no association has been proven between the vaccine and autism.
But that does not assuage the doubts and fears of parents - many of whom are mistrustful of government intrusions into decisions about their childrens' healthcare - and an increasing number of required or recommended vaccines. As many as 28 injections to protect against 14 different diseases are now required or recommended in the US. Many are skeptical of pharmaceutical company profits and are uneasy about the relationship of pharma, legislators and providers who drive immunizations and profit by them.
As immunization rates drop, outbreaks can occur in vulnerable populations. Measles and mumps can be deadly. If you have concerns about vaccine safety and have opted out of vaccinating your kids with MMR, be sure to discuss your fears and concerns with your health care provider this month.
Thank you ninjapoodle for use of photo Because you can never know too much about Shingles...