For the Good of the Herd

May 20, 2008 by
Filed under: CDC Watch, Parents' Pages, Vaccine/Disease Analysis 

In an era where CDC experts are saying, “Just line up for Gardasil, and you’ll have a 70% reduced chance of getting cancer”, are parents asking any critical questions about the crystal ball gazing abilities of these experts now and in the past? Why is there talk of adding a third MMR vaccine into the childhood schedule, and also putting it into adult vaccination programs as regular boosters?

Will most people just roll up their sleeve, assuming the new ideas will have the good outcome the CDC will predict?

Most of those people won’t know, that in 1967, the CDC said: *

For centuries the measles virus has maintained a remarkably stable ecological relationship with man. The clinical disease is a characteristic syndrome of notable constancy and only moderate severity. Complications are infrequent, and, with adequate medical care, fatality is rare.

Effective use of these vaccines during the coming winter and spring should insure the eradication of measles from the United States in 1967.

Or that it was reported in Time Magazine in 1966 that:

The Federal Government last week declared its determination to eradicate measles from the U.S. in 1967.

Perhaps because measles always seemed to be an unavoidable part of childhood, it has not loomed as threatening as other diseases, and its characteristic red spots have long been the butt of comic-strip jokes.*

Though the disease fighters were hampered by the public’s unconcern, they were helped by some characteristics of the measles virus. There is only one type, as against three for polio. One shot of vaccine made from live but attenuated virus confers lifelong immunity

Explains Dr. Dull: When two-thirds or more of the children in any community are immune, through having had either the disease or vaccination, the measles virus simply dies out.

“It’s unprecedented in the history of preventive medicine to try to eradicate an entire disease in one year,” says Dr. Dull, “but there is good reason to believe it can be done.”

What “good reason” did Drs. Sencer, Dull, and Langmuir have, to predict:

a ) That one shot would give lifelong immunity?
b ) That when two-thirds of children are immune measles would die out?
c ) That vaccinating a few million children in one year, would “eradicate measles” permanently?

Worldwide, parents were promised that just one shot would eliminate measles, a disease which in developed countries was considered to be relatively mild, even by doctors.

Unknown to most people, new science emerged over the decades, irrefutable facts were quietly changed, goalposts silently shifted, history privately rewritten, until  the Canadian Press told the public, in May of 2008:

Before vaccination became commonplace, adults often came in contact with youngsters suffering from mumps, measles, and the other childhood diseases. That remained the case in the early days of vaccine administration when these diseases still commonly circulated.

If people had protection – natural or vaccine-acquired – those exposures were actually helpful. They acted as a sort of natural booster shot, reminding the immune system to be on guard for this threat.

The end result of the investigation into the durability of immunity in the vaccine age could be a recognition that adults need booster shots to prevent outbreaks of what we now consider childhood diseases. Osterholm, for one, thinks that’s likely.

What they’re referring to is called “secondary vaccine failure”, an almost paradoxical situation resulting in the more effective vaccines losing effectiveness over time as a direct result of their own initial effectiveness.

For some time after MMR was introduced, the wild viruses still circulated, which artificially inflated the estimated vaccine efficacy, because people who got the vaccine, still encountered the viruses occasionally. With a higher vaccine uptake, the ability for immunity to be “boosted” by natural exposure disappeared. Such logic is being admitted to now, to prepare adults for being re-vaccinated with the MMR throughout their lives.

While most experts want their current wisdom to be assumed “accurate”, the most accurate statement in the Canadian Press article was:

“I don’t think we know much at all,” acknowledges Dr. Samuel Katz.

If you told  CDC doctors today, that vaccinating two-thirds of all children one summer would result in a common virus simply dying out, they would laugh in your face. But the belief that vaccinating a few million children in 1967 could eliminate measles, was not questioned in 1966, because neither parents nor experts knew that the assumed “knowledge” about the natural history of disease, the development and maintenance of immunity, and how both meshed together, was fundamentally flawed.

In 2008, the simple popular view of vaccination continues to say, “if you are vaccinated you can neither catch nor spread the disease in question, which is good for everyone.” Every vaccination program is built on the sort of simplistic ideas which jumpstarted the original National Immunization Program. It is assumed that every new vaccine will fulfill it’s predicted potential, and have well researched effectiveness and safety.

Unfortunately, like most simple pictures, this is not the whole story.

Let’s look at another flaw they missed in the equation:

CDC’s Pink Book measles chapter, shows how infants are now more at risk from measles outbreaks in post-mass vaccination societies:

During the 1989–1991 measles resurgence, incidence rates for infants were more than twice as high as those in any other age group. The mothers of many infants who developed measles were young, and their measles immunity was most often due to vaccination rather than infection with wild virus. As a result, a smaller amount of antibody was transferred across the placenta to the fetus, compared with antibody transfer from mothers who had higher antibody titers resulting from wild-virus infection. The lower quantity of antibody resulted in immunity that waned more rapidly, making infants susceptible at a younger age than in the past.

Secondary vaccine failure resulting in increased potential for serious disease in both babies and adults, as a result of mass vaccination, isn’t the only glitch in the vaccine-created herd immunity system, either.

Let’s look at some of the childhood vaccines and see what the “herd effects” are.

DTaP vaccine

  • Diphtheria-

From the vaccine’s package insert:

Protection against disease is due to the development of neutralizing antibodies to the diphtheria toxin. Following adequate immunization with diphtheria toxoid, protection persists for at least 10 years. A serum diphtheria antitoxin level of 0.01 IU/mL is the lowest level giving some degree of protection; a level of 0.1 IU/mL is regarded as protective.1 Levels of 1.0 IU/mL are associated with long-term protection.1 Immunization with diphtheria toxoid does not, however, eliminate carriage of C. diphtheriae in the pharynx or nares or on the skin.

From the CDC’s Pink Book chapter on diphtheria:

Although diphtheria disease is rare in the United States, it
appears that Corynebacterium diphtheriae continues to
circulate in areas of the country with previously endemic
diphtheria.

  • Tetanus- not a contagious disease, so the question does not apply

Varicella (chickenpox)
Same as MMR in many ways, but in addition to secondary vaccine failure, vaccine induced herd immunity probably causes a massive increase in shingles.

Hib and Prevnar-
Both vaccines do prevent transmission of vaccine serotypes, but both vaccines have adverse “herd effects” or “consequences”, such as “replacement disease”.

Read more about the replacement effects here, here, and here.

_______________________________________________________________

Summing up:

  • In the absence of circulating disease, some vaccines lose their “punch” leaving adults vulnerable to childhood illnesses (consider recent outbreaks of mumps in the U.S. and the U.K.), which are generally more dangerous for grown-ups than for children. When that happens, infants are also born with significantly less passive immunity from their mothers, putting them at risk of serious complications and death, as well.
  • Some vaccines do not prevent the transmission of the disease they are supposed to control, making herd immunity something of an oxymoron.
  • Some vaccines clear out one disease organism, which is promptly replaced by another disease organism.

The simple picture: “if you are vaccinated you can neither catch nor spread the disease in question” turns out to largely be a overly simplistic fallacy, mostly useful for attacking parents who are perceived to be failing to contribute towards herd immunity because they chose not to vaccinate their children.

While some might ask the question, “How about a vaccination policy based on real scientific facts, for a change?” others might also ask a different question, which is, “Are the facts presented today, to justify new vaccines being introduced, and extending existing childhood vaccines into adult schedules, based on better logic than the CDC “experts” proclaimed in 1966?”

_________________________________________

*

bottom of page 254:

“The authors are from the Public Health Service’s National Communicable Disease Center, Atlanta, Ga. Dr. Sencer is chief and Dr Dull is assistant chief of the Center. Dr Langmuir is chief of the Epidemiology Program. This paper was presented at the American Publich Health Association’s meeting in San Francisco, November 1, 1966″.

Comments

14 Comments on For the Good of the Herd

  1. concerned parent on Thu, 22nd May 2008 4:36 pm
  2. Here’s an excerpt from an interesting article in the American Journal of Epidemiology (1984 – Vol. 120, No. 1: 39-48) regarding Measles: “A computer model was created to study the effect of the measles elimination program in the United States on the number of susceptibles in the population. The simulation reveals that in the prevaccine era, approximately 10.6% of the population was susceptible to measles, most of whom were children less than 10 years of age. With the institution of the measles immunlzation program, the proportion of susceptibles in the population fell to 3.1% from 1978 through 1981, but then began to rise by approximately 0.1% per year to reach about 10.9% in the year 2050. The susceptibies at this time were distributed evenly throughout all age groups. The model did not consider the potential effect of waning immunity.” The article concludes with this “However, despite short-term success in eliminating the disease, long-range projections demonstrate that the proportion of susceptibies in the year 2050 may be greater than in the prevaccine era. Present vaccine technology and public health policy must be altered to deal with this eventuallty.” So the end result will be the same number (or more) of susceptibles, but “distributed evenly thoroughout all age groups”. Since adults and infants have higher risk of Measles complications and fatality, the Measles eradication plan has resulted in higher risk to the overall population. Obviously the public health policy solution is more and more vaccination, more boosters for children and adolescents, and adults as well. A very short-sighted, questionable and expensive campaign to eliminate a self-limiting childhood disease.

  3. Jupiter on Thu, 22nd May 2008 9:07 pm
  4. Wow, CP…

    Thanks! That is really interesting and very relevant to this article!

    Good news for Merck, huh?
    I’m sure the public health folks in charge won’t mind lifetime boosters being added.

    Do you think “the people” would have signed up for this in 1967, when they were told that they were just looking at one shot one year in some kids? If they were asked what they thought about all the hundreds of millions of us having to get the shot every 10 or 20 years for life, generation after generation, possibly for over 100 years…would “we” have chosen to get ourselves into that?

    There’s a kind of “point of no return” with this disease and the vaccine, once infants start being born without passive immunity. And I think we’re past that point with measles, and I’m not sure there’s any turning back now. But the pipeline is full of new vaccines, and even some that are commonly used now, like chickenpox…we’re not past the point of no return yet. (it’s another one where we’re unknowingly signing up for a lifetime of boosters).

    At some point the public is going to have to say “WAIT!…Let’s talk about this and think about it and figure out what we’re really getting ourselves into here.” with these new shots, because the ACIP either can’t or won’t do that. “We the people” need to have a say in what kinds of decisions are made.
    As it stands right now, the “vaccine machine” has a lot of uncontrolled momentum, and you and I are along for the ride whether we want to be or not.
    Something has to change.

  5. concerned parent on Fri, 23rd May 2008 2:32 pm
  6. No, I don’t think the “people” would have lined up so eagerly had they known the truth. But in many ways 1967 was a very different time, more blind faith in science and medicine and less access to information for the general public. The general public needs to be made aware that in addition to the risks for serious long and short term adverse reactions, vaccines are not 100% effective in the short or long term. Vaccines MAY (or may not) provide temporary immunity. This is well documented in medical journals and is even disclosed in vaccine package inserts.

    Because of waning vaccine-induced immunity over time and because adults incur greater risk of complications from childhood diseases, mass vaccination policies have not only transferred the disease and complication risks from one age group to others, but have compounded the risk due to the age factors.

    Sites like this one that are based on fact and not emotion are one step in the right direction toward educating people about the facts. There is a lot of vaccine propaganda on the internet, both pro and anti. It is not easy to uncover the truth about this subject and it is very time consuming.

    One more rant: I am so weary of the media and general public perception that people who question or abstain from vaccination are “uninformed and irresponsible”, or that they are harming the population or “free-riding” on herd immunity. These kind of comments reveal an ignorance of the facts. If vaccinations were 100% effective then herd immunity would not be an issue. Vaccinated people would be at zero risk of contracting disease no matter what percentage of the population was vaccinated, and the unvaccinated would take their chances as a matter of choice. People need to be made aware that the reason herd immunity is still being discussed is because vaccines are not 100% effective and they need to direct their anger at the responsible parties (vaccine manufacturers) not those who choose to abstain from vaccination.

  7. concerned parent on Fri, 23rd May 2008 3:04 pm
  8. PS I forgot to mention this: did anyone see the Newshour last night? They did a story on people who choose not to vaccinate their children http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/health/jan-june08/vaccines_05-22.html

    A CDC official, Dr. Ann Schuchat, claims that all measles outbreaks in the US this year have been caused by non-vaccinated individuals. Also in the video you can see she’s wearing a (high ranking) military uniform, which was quite startling to me and reminds me of something I recently read in a book called “Vaccine: The Controversial Story of Medicine’s Greatest Lifesaver” by Arthur Allen. Allen says that since its inception in the 18th century, all top scientists in the US Public Health Service have held military rank. The FDA, CDC, NIH, etc. are all agencies within the PHS. Not to get too paranoid about this, but it is possible that military personnel have biased views (pro) on vaccination and that their weighty influence on public vaccination policies via the CDC is inappropriate for the health of the general public. By the way, in my opinion Allen does a pretty good job of presenting a journalistically objective story of vaccines in the 20th century, but it’s still quite a damning story with regard to vaccine safety and efficacy as he recites stories of the many mishaps, accidents and disasters most of the vaccines have encountered upon release to the general public.

  9. Jupiter on Fri, 23rd May 2008 5:03 pm
  10. CP…have you joined the IV discussion forum yet? I started a spinoff thread there since it’s easier to “talk” with discussion forum format than it is in the comment section here.

    http://insidevaccines.com/discussions/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=135&start=0&st=0&sk=t&sd=a

    Regarding herd immunity…
    There’s also the argument that we’re doing it to protect the immunocompromised. And I can see the altruism in that, but…I guess it comes down to me wondering “at what price?” Where do you draw the line with that kind of mass-moral obligation? I mean, if everyone on earth had to get a 5 shot series to create global herd immunity to some hypothetical pathogen to save an average of 10 lives a year, would we be morally obligated to participate? Where do you draw the line? Because the way it works now is that the line is drawn at whatever vaccine has completed Phase III. It’s not like the vaccines are coming out in a progressive order from most deadly to least deadly…the way it’s always worked is that some scientist makes some discovery, some pharma company goes “we can make a product with that info!” and it’s in the pipeline, and if all goes well, it gets mandated.
    And the radical provaccine enthusiests say “if even ONE life is saved, it’s worth it to mandate it for the population.”

    Ehhh…gotta go somewhere…I’ll be back later with more.

  11. concerned parent on Sat, 24th May 2008 4:07 pm
  12. Jupiter,

    Thanks for the discussion link, I will check it out. I hear what you’re saying about immunocompromised individuals. That kind of altruism may enter into the decision making process of a minority of individuals. But I do not believe that it has any effect on the motives of the pharmaceutical companies or the other driving forces behind public vaccination policies (CDC, etc.) Also, mass vaccination and “herd immunity” theories and practices were implemented long before there was any talk of “immunocompromised” individuals due to chronic diseases like cancer and HIV.

  13. concerned parent on Sun, 25th May 2008 10:27 am
  14. I have a few more comments about herd immunity. I think this is an important subject, especially because the media vilifies vaccination “exemptors” and people who don’t understand the facts just go along with that vilification. With regard to the Time magazine article (6/2/08): the article states that 77% of all US kindergartners are completely up-to-date on their vaccines and that 2-3% of them have been legally exempted. It dismisses the remaining 20% of the kindergarten population as “most of the remaining children are missing just a few shots”. Of course there are no citations as to where they got that information or how it was verified. I would imagine that the 20% of the population that is partially vaccinated would have a much larger impact on herd immunity than 2-3% of the population that is exempt (and let’s not forget than many exemptors choose selective vaccination, so they are not completely unvaccinated). My point is this: if we’re going to criticize one group (exemptors) for a breach of moral obligation with regard to herd immunity, what about the moral obligation of 1) the 20% that is partially vaccinated and 2) the promoters of vaccination policy who have effectively eliminated the life long natural immunity acquired from contracting disease in favor of temporary vaccine-induced immunity, thereby creating new groups of higher risk “susceptibles” including infants and the elderly? (See above comment with regard to American Journal of Epidemiology article that documents the medical community was aware of this effect of vaccination at least 25 years ago). I don’t understand why the blame and criticism is reserved only for exemptors, except that it is easier to point the finger at the one group that is outspoken about their beliefs.

  15. Jupiter on Sun, 25th May 2008 9:38 pm
  16. “I think this is an important subject, especially because the media vilifies vaccination “exemptors” and people who don’t understand the facts just go along with that vilification. ”

    Well, a lot of what you see the media reporting is coming from the CDC’s communications department. They send out media info packets to “increase demand for vaccines” (their words) to “communicate” with everyone.

    The people in charge of public health don’t worry about the people who are just a bit behind, because they can be brought in line with a note from the school. And tapping into “moral outrage” over intentional vaccine refusers is a good way to “motivate” the rest to stay on schedule, I’d guess.

    They’re not going to turn the spotlight on themselves, because in their minds, admitting a mistake would endanger public health, for one thing, and they just look at it all like “experience” since they don’t have a problem with adding more and more vaccines to fix problems created by vaccines.

    “I don’t understand why the blame and criticism is reserved only for exemptors, except that it is easier to point the finger at the one group that is outspoken about their beliefs.”

    Remembering that a lot of the criticism is coming from the CDC indirectly, it’s sort of a response to what the exemptors state by exempting.
    The exemptors are saying “You people don’t really know what you’re doing, and I’m not going along with your program.” so they come back with “Well you people could start an epidemic that kills a lot of people.”

  17. concerned parent on Tue, 27th May 2008 10:31 am
  18. Very good points Jupiter. If all the partially vaccinated got up-to-date then that leaves only 2-3% partially or completely unvaccinated. (And for most states exemptors total closer to 1-2%.) From all the information I have read a 97% immunity rate would exceed the herd immunity threshold for the vast majority of diseases. Except of course that because vaccinations are not 100% effective 97% coverage does not equal 97% immunity. There is another fallacy that the CDC promotes, that vaccination equals immunization.

  19. wallacesmum on Wed, 28th May 2008 11:57 am
  20. There are two points, both of which you guys have raised, that I think are the “gotcha” points for pro-vaccine perspectives. One is the “if you don’t vax you are selfish because of the immunocompromised folks” and the other is new vaccine development.

    The first is a false paradox, I believe, because there is no meaningful way to quantify that risk/benefit equation. Scientists still don’t know why some people are susceptible to disease and vaccine antibody formation, so the likelihood of disease incidence in those folks relative to different levels of circulating virus is pretty vague. How do we isolate the impact of vaccines on the amount of measles in circulation? How do we even really KNOW the amount of measles in circulation?

    As to the second, the mainstream mindset that vaccines are completely safe and effective will have to shift considerably before the “just one more” mantra sees real resistance. Out here in the ether where we talk about these things, a lot of people mention initially questioning vaccines because of how many more there are. However, based on the practices of the majority, most folks still don’t think that is a problem. Most people are so grateful for the “amazing increase in life expectancy made possible by allopathic medicine,” and don’t see additional shots on the schedule as demonstrative of the weakness of the science, but rather as demonstrative of its strength.

  21. concerned parent on Wed, 28th May 2008 12:36 pm
  22. WM– You’re right, the mainstream mindset is a problem, if not THE problem because the public will have to provide the major impetus for change. The more people become aware of the facts and press for change the more likely change will occur. It will not be initiated by the medical community, although some pediatricians (including ours) are bucking the trend and supporting a family’s right to make informed choices.

    I also wanted to add to your comment about “how do we isolate the impact of vaccines on the amount of measles in circulation”. Along that line of questioning, how do we remove measles from circulation without fully vaccinating all the adult population that currently does not have natural immunity from contracting the disease? This applies to those of us born after 1957 or so who have never contracted measles (including myself). How do we know what percentage of the population that comprises? I don’t understand how the medical community can even discuss “herd immunity” with regard to measles without considering the number of adult susceptibles due to waning artificial immunity. This problem makes the above mentioned Time magazine figures about the level of coverage of the US kindergarten population a moot point. 77% of the kindergarten population MAY have temporary immunity, but not 77% of the overall population.

  23. Michael on Tue, 30th Nov 2010 12:15 am
  24. With regards measles then, how do you explain this:
    1. http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/cda-cdi3302k.htm
    In an outbreak of 25 cases of measles in Qld in Q1 2009, NONE of the cases were vaccinated. Also, referring to another outbreak, “The number of vaccine doses was known for 57 of the 78 cases, of which none had received 2 doses of a MCV, four (7%) had received 1 dose and 53 (93%) had received no doses: the remaining 21 cases were of unknown vaccination status”
    2. http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/cda-cdi3301c.htm
    During an outbreak in Q2 2006 in NSW, of the 33 children with measles, only 6 had received 1 dose of MMR, and the others none. None of the cases had received two doses
    Vaccination, it appears, protects! Only people not or under-vaccinated suffered from measles. Why were vaccinated people not diagnosed? Because they didn’t get symptoms.
    But that’s OK then if you don’t vaccinate, because, as far as the CDC is concerned:
    “In the U.S., up to 20 percent of persons with measles are hospitalized. Seventeen percent of measles cases have had one or more complications, such as ear infections, pneumonia, or diarrhea. Pneumonia is present in about six percent of cases and accounts for most of the measles deaths. Although less common, some persons with measles develop encephalitis (swelling of the lining of the brain), resulting in brain damage.”
    Brain damage is only rare.

  25. admin on Sun, 5th Dec 2010 6:33 pm
  26. Michael,
    This article is at least moderately relevant to your point, so I’ll give you credit for slightly improving your aim. However, the article isn’t mainly about herd immunity from measles, but discusses the failure of the original plan to ERADICATE measles in one year with one shot. Whoops. Now they are up to three doses of MMR and they still haven’t eradicated measles.

    Did you catch the part about declining immunity in adults due to LACK of exposure to measles? Interesting, isn’t it. And something you won’t hear about from mainstream resources.

    This is why insidevaccines is needed.

  27. Mema on Thu, 3rd Feb 2011 9:53 am
  28. Michael,

    Also see this

    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00000359.htm

    Measles Outbreak among Vaccinated High School Students — Illinois

    From December 9, 1983, to January 13, 1984, 21 cases of measles occurred in Sangamon County, Illinois.* Nine of the cases were confirmed serologically. The outbreak involved 16 high school students, all of whom had histories of measles vaccination after 15 months of age documented in their school health records. Of the five remaining cases, four occurred in unvaccinated preschool children, two of whom were under 15 months of age, and one case occurred in a previously vaccinated college student (Figure 5).

    The affected high school had 276 students and was in the same building as a junior high school with 135 students. A review of health records in the high school showed that all 411 students had documentation of measles vaccination on or after the first birthday, in accordance with Illinois law.

    Measles vaccination histories were obtained from the school health records of all 276 senior high school students. Risk of infection was not significantly associated with type of vaccine, medical provider, age at most recent vaccination, or revaccination. All the students with measles had received their most recent vaccinations after 15 months of age. However, the measles attack rate increased with increasing years since most recent vaccination (p = 0.024) (Table 3). The attack rate was four times greater for students vaccinated 10 or more years before the outbreak than for students vaccinated more recently (p 0.05). When these data are corrected for the number of vaccinations, the trend was still observed and achieved a borderline level of statistical significance (p = 0.07). Age at first or last vaccination was not a confounding variable.

    The point is…the inefficiency of the vaccine to produce LIFELONG IMMUNITY, whereas natural inoculation creates LIFELONG IMMUNITY.

    I think the problem here is the CDC thinking that they have a “right” or “need” to eradicate ALL DISEASE. Perhaps there is a PURPOSE for this disease. Measles, chickenpox and many other vaccinated diseases may actually do a lot of good to build up our immune system library. Making us STRONGER to fight future disease. But no one will study that! Furthermore, the instance of nutrient deficiency in making one susceptible as well. Many diseases which went away on their own well before vaccines or modern medicine did so when people were getting better nutrition and fixing those mineral/vitamin deficiencies making them vulnerable or were even causing the symptoms that were attributed to “disease”.

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