Before measles vaccine, nearly all children got measles by the time they were 15 years of age. Each year in the United States about 450-500 people died because of measles, 48,000 were hospitalized, 7,000 had seizures, and about 1,000 suffered permanent brain damage or deafness. Today there are only about 60 cases a year reported in the United States, and most of these originate outside the country.
“We spent 3 days in the hospital fearing we might lose our baby boy. He couldn’t drink or eat, so he was on an IV, and for a while he seemed to be wasting away. When he began to be able to drink again we got to take him home. But the doctors told us to expect the disease to continue to run its course, including high fever—which did spike as high as 106 degrees. We spent a week waking at all hours to stay on schedule with fever reducing medications and soothing him with damp wash cloths. Also, as instructed, we watched closely for signs of lethargy or non-responsiveness. If we’d seen that, we’d have gone back to the hospital immediately.”
Thankfully, the baby recovered fully.
Megan now knows that her son was exposed to measles during his 10-month check-up, when another mother brought her ill son into the pediatrician’s waiting room. An investigation found that the boy and his siblings had gotten measles overseas and brought it back to the United States. They had not been vaccinated.
“People who choose not to vaccinate their children actually make a choice for other children and put them at risk,” Megan explains. “At 10 months, my son was too young to get the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine. But when he was 12 months old, we got him the vaccine—even though he wasn’t susceptible to measles anymore. This way, he won’t suffer from mumps or rubella, or spread them to anyone else.”
Probably two of the most notable vaccine successes are smallpox and infantile paralysis. I had a smallpox vaccination in the 1950’s, and was one of the first children to receive the Salk vaccine against polio.
SmallPox (Variola Major)
The last recorded incidence of smallpox was 1978 in Great Britain. Some estimates indicate that 20th century worldwide deaths from smallpox numbered more than 300 million.
Infantile Paralysis (Poliomyelitis)
Landmark vaccination and surveillance efforts along with subsequent national mass Salk and Sabin vaccination programs – with CDC epidemiologists continuing to administer vaccine and conduct disease surveillance — eradicated polio in the U.S. by 1979. Now, we are on the verge of worldwide eradication of this dreaded disease. In the U.S. meanwhile, continued protection from polio depends on continuing the impressive and historically high rate of polio vaccination. People at greatest risk include those who never had polio vaccine, or didn’t receive all the recommended doses, as well as those traveling to areas with polio cases. Vaccination will be necessary for full protection as long as polio remains in the world.
More than 50 years ago, polio held U.S. families in a grip of terror. Especially during the summertime, when polio seemed most likely to circulate, parents feared they would hear in the news or from neighbors that someone in the community had polio. “People tried to keep their children safe from the potentially paralyzing disease by keeping them out of public places such as pools, parks, and theaters,” explains Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The nation came together like never before in an effort to create a vaccine to protect children from polio. Millions of Americans raised funds in their communities for research. Much of the funding came through the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (presently the March of Dimes Foundation), founded in 1938 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, himself paralyzed by polio in the prime of his life. Before the March of Dimes drew national attention to the search for a polio vaccine, two attempts to develop a polio vaccine had failed—neither produced immunity and some deaths were blamed on one of the vaccines.
In 1952, Jonas Salk and his team at the University of Pittsburgh created the first effective polio vaccine. By 1954, it was time to test the Salk vaccine widely. Thomas Francis Jr. at the University of Michigan led the nationwide test, the scale of which had never been seen before. More than 1.8 million school children across the United States participated. Thousands of health care professionals and other volunteers administered the vaccine and collected results.
I was one of the children in the nationwide test, and received the “real” vaccine!
Everyone had the same goal: victory over polio. In 1955 the results were proclaimed: the Salk vaccine was “safe, effective, and potent!”
More stats: http://www.post-polio.org/ir-usa.html
As one would expect, diseases such as polio are still rife in Africa and other parts of the Third World. But the United States and Great Britain deserve badges of shame for the resurgence of measles and whooping cough, which are almost entirely due to the ignorance and fear spread by the anti-vaccine movements in those countries.
One disturbing trend related to polio, which should have been eradicated globally decades ago, is its presence in Nigeria and Pakistan. These outbreaks are closely related to campaigns of violence directed at vaccine workers and other healthcare staff. Reports of the violence are shown on the updated CFR map for the first time.
According to a research team at Boston Children’s Hospital, suspicion of the polio vaccine in Nigeria dates back to 2003, when rumors spread that “the vaccine was for sterilizing children for birth control and contained HIV.” More recently, vaccination drives have been halted by the Boko Haram insurgency. Last year, nine women working on a polio vaccination campaign were killed by gunmen.
In Pakistan, the Boston researchers report, Taliban commanders have banned polio vaccines in regions under their control. Militants are predisposed to suspect vaccination campaigns because the U.S. used a polio vaccination drive as cover for the search for Osama bin Laden in 2011. Healthcare workers “feared the deception would increase the danger to polio workers,” as indeed it has.
The toll has been significant. Pakistan’s 94 polio cases lead the world this year.
Other than the Third World, measles outbreaks are concentrated in Great Britain and the wealthy coastal zones of the U.S., where anti-vaccination ignorance is pronounced among affluent and ostensibly educated populations. Whooping cough, or pertussis, is concentrated in the U.S., thanks largely to anti-vaccination ignorance.
There are objections to the use of vaccines. I’ll cover them briefly here, although I do not believe that the objections are significant enough to rule out vaccination of our children.
There is a tangential connection between some vaccines and abortion. The Hepatitis A vaccine, the MMR vaccine, and the chicken pox vaccine all contain viruses (weakened or inactivated) that were grown in human cells. A virus must be given a medium in which to propagate. Many vaccines use viruses that can propagate in several kinds of mammal cells, but some viruses are so specific that they can only propagate in human cells. The viruses used in the above-listed vaccines are that specific. Thus, they must be grown in human cells.
Where do the vaccine companies get the cells for these vaccines? They get them from companies like Coriell Cell Repositories, 403 Haddon Avenu, Camden, New Jersey 08103, 800-752-3805. This company has many cell lines, which are cultures of self-perpetuating cells. Each culture of cells is continually reproducing, making more cells. Those cells are sold to researchers, drug companies, and other medical technology firms. The specific cell lines used in vaccines are the MRC-5 and WI-38 cell lines, and they have been supplying medical research of all types for more than 35 years. Where do these cell lines come from? That’s where the grain of truth in this lie comes from. Both of these cell lines were cultured from cells taken from two abortions, one (MRC-5) that was performed in September,1966 and one (WI-38) that was performed in July, 1962.
Now that you have learned the facts, we can discuss the moral issues involved. Is it immoral to use these cell lines to make vaccines? The answer is definitely not. You might think that the cell lines are somehow “tainted” because they come from abortions; however, think about it for a moment. Abortion is murder. A person who claims to be a physician purposefully kills an innocent, unprotected person. That is evil, and there is no doubt about it. However, let’s consider another murder, shall we? Let’s suppose one of your loved ones was shot in a robbery attempt. You rush your loved one to the hospital, but it is too late. Your loved one dies. This is another murder, and it is just as evil.
Suppose that the doctors rush in and tell you that there is a young boy in the next room who needs a heart immediately, or he will die. The doctors have analyzed your loved one’s blood and found that your loved one is a perfect match for the dying boy. Would you donate your loved one’s heart to the boy? I certainly would. It would be a tragedy that my loved one was murdered, but at least this would be a “silver lining” in that dark cloud. At least my loved one’s death would mean that a young boy could live.
The cells that were taken from the two aborted babies more than 35 years ago are much like my loved one’s heart. Two innocent babies were killed. However, they were able to donate something that has been used not only to make vaccines, but in many medical research projects over the years. Thus, these cells have been saving millions of lives for almost two generations! Although the babies were clearly murdered, the fact that their cells have been saving lives is at least a silver lining in the dark cloud of their tragic murder.
Interestingly enough, a June 9, 2005 statement from the Pontifical Academy for Life (the Vatican’s official voice in the area of abortion/right-to-life) comes to essentially the same conclusion. Even though some organizations have mischaracterized the document as condemning the use of such vaccines, the document, in fact, says quite the opposite. It says that when an alternative vaccine which has no connection whatsoever to abortion is available, parents should use it. There is no question that this is the moral thing to do. In addition, when there is no alternative available, parents should object by demonstration, etc. so as to force manufactures to come up with an alternative.
Because some organizations have tried to mischaracterize this statement, the Catholic News Service (CNS) produced an article that quotes Msgr. Jacques Suaudeau, a medical doctor and official at the Pontifical Academy for Life, as saying, “If the health of the child or of the whole population [is at risk], the parents should accept having their kid be vaccinated if there is no alternative.” Because some organizations clearly do not like the Roman Catholic church officially saying that the use of these vaccines is morally acceptable, they have asked the Pontifical Academy for Life to change its statement. However, CNS reports that Msgr. Jacques Suaudeau said the document “could not be changed” because it accurately reflected church teaching. Despite what you might read, then, even the Vatican supports the use of vaccines that have a tangential relationship to abortion, as long as no alternative vaccines are available.
There are, of course, those who believe that vaccinations are responsible for autism. I’ll leave a couple of links here, although I have found that it is impossible to convince those who are true believers in the causation between vaccines and autism: