Thursday, February 19, 2015

FACTS: Only 25% of recent US measles cases were vaccine refuser

FACTS: Only 25% of recent US measles cases were vaccine refusers; there have been no US measles deaths since 2003; most of those with measles have been adults/ CDC

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A few facts about measles need to be told.  Measles is not rapidly expanding in the US or internationally, and CDC says the rate of vaccination for measles has been stable since 1994. (However, in some states, like Oregon, the number of vaccine waivers has tripled to 6% in about 10 years.  In response, last March Oregon tightened its rules for vaccine exemptions, requiring parents to be educated about vaccines before refusing.) The following comes exclusively from the CDC and WHO.

1.  No one has died in the US from an acute case of measles since 2003.  Because Snopes claimed this was a lie, I checked with the measles experts at CDC, who wrote me the following email today:

"Good Afternoon,Thank you for your inquiry regarding measles deaths.  Measles data available to the public can be found in, MMWR (, and other publications such as those listed on

The last documented deaths in the US directly attributable to acute measles occurred in 2003.  Before the measles vaccination program started in 1963, we estimate that 3-4 million people got measles each year in the US, and 400-500 of those died (

Kind Regards, Division of Viral Diseases Centers for Disease Control and Prevention"

2.  Worldwide, according to the WHO, measles deaths were reduced by 74% between 2001 and 2010.

The majority of measles deaths occurred in India and Africa where not enough children are being vaccinated. India accounted for 47% of all measles deaths, followed by the entire African region at 36%...

“This is still a huge success,” study author Peter Strebel, a measles expert at WHO, told the AP. Strebel said the 85% vaccination coverage rate is the highest ever recorded.

3.  Almost all recent US cases (110 through February 8) have occurred in California residents, with only 17 cases from other states, Canada and Mexico.

4.  Over half the cases have occurred in adults.  The median age of recent measles cases is 22.

5.  Only 28 (25%) of the cases were vaccine refusers.

From CDC: "As of February 11, a total of 125 measles cases with rash occurring during December 28, 2014–February 8, 2015, had been confirmed in U.S. residents connected with this outbreak. Of these, 110 patients were California residents. Thirty-nine (35%) of the California patients visited one or both of the two Disney theme parks during December 17–20, where they are thought to have been exposed to measles, 37 have an unknown exposure source (34%), and 34 (31%) are secondary cases. Among the 34 secondary cases, 26 were household or close contacts, and eight were exposed in a community setting. Five (5%) of the California patients reported being in one or both of the two Disney theme parks during their exposure period outside of December 17–20, but their source of infection is unknown. In addition, 15 cases linked to the two Disney theme parks have been reported in seven other states: Arizona (seven), Colorado (one), Nebraska (one), Oregon (one), Utah (three), and Washington (two), as well as linked cases reported in two neighboring countries, Mexico (one) and Canada (10).

Among the 110 California patients, 49 (45%) were unvaccinated; five (5%) had 1 dose of measles-containing vaccine, seven (6%) had 2 doses, one (1%) had 3 doses, 47 (43%) had unknown or undocumented vaccination status, and one (1%) had immunoglobulin G seropositivity documented, which indicates prior vaccination or measles infection at an undetermined time.

Twelve of the unvaccinated patients were infants too young to be vaccinated. Among the 37 remaining vaccine-eligible patients, 28 (67%) were intentionally unvaccinated because of personal beliefs, and one was on an alternative plan for vaccination. Among the 28 intentionally unvaccinated patients, 18 were children and 10 were adults...