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Should Doctors Kick Out Patients for Refusing Measles Vaccine?

measles vaccineThe measles outbreak that began at Disneyland in California has now affected 94 people in 14 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  How it began is uncertain, but the CDC suggests that it may have come from overseas.

“Although we aren’t sure exactly how this year’s outbreak began, we assume that someone got infected overseas, visited the parks and spread the disease to others,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, Assistant Surgeon General of the United States and Director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

Last year, the U.S. reported over 600 cases of measles — the largest number in over 20 years.  Many of those cases were linked to people who had traveled to the Philippines, where there was an outbreak of over 50,000 cases of measles.

Since the measles virus is highly contagious, once it entered Disneyland, according to Dr. Schuchat, it most likely spread to unvaccinated visitors.

“This is not a problem with the measles vaccine not working,” said Dr. Schuchat. “This is a problem of the measles vaccine not being used.”

Peter Lipson, MD, an internal medicine doc in Michigan and contributor to Forbes magazine, wrote an article appropriately critical of physicians who endorse the anti-vaccine movement.

Before the studies of Andrew Wakefield were found to be fakes, a group of celebrities successfully promoted the false findings that MMR vaccines contributed to autism, among other conditions.

Physicians are “put in the unusual position of having to convince people that we actually know a bit more about health than second-tier, has-been celebrities,” said Dr. Lipson, who referenced Jenny McCarthy, the champion celeb of the anti-vaccine movement. “But there have been a few actual licensed medical voices over the last several years fighting to keep our kids sick.”

Dr. Lipson wrote in Forbes about Dr. Jay Gordon, a California pediatrician who is “pro-choice” on vaccinations and has successfully attracted a patient base of parents with similar paranoia. “His rantings are so incoherent that it’s hard to believe he ever passed his pre-med science classes,” Dr. Lipson said of Gordon.

Dr. Gordon believes the first shot shouldn’t be given until the child is at least three years old, but admits he has no scientific evidence to support his belief.

“I have no evidence based medicine, there’s no research saying that,” said Gordon. “I have anecdotal data that has told me that. Anecdotal data does not stand up to public scrutiny. It’s easy to attack. I have had, as I’ve said, many parents tell me that their child has been harmed by the MMR.”

The success of the measles vaccine is unquestioned and the disease was declared eliminated from the U.S. in 2000. But due to travelers and pockets of “anti-vaccine” communities, the disease has returned in recent, smaller outbreaks.

“The majority of the adults and children that are reported to us for which we have information did not get vaccinated or don’t know whether they have been vaccinated,” said Dr. Schuchat.

Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, 90% of the people close to the person who aren’t immune will also be infected,” warns Dr. Schuchat. “You can catch it just by being in the same room as a person with measles even if that person left the room because the virus can hang around for a couple of hours.

Providers and parents: tell us your thoughts regarding vaccinating yourself, your children and your patients.

-Alan Lyndon

(Photo by PV2 Andrew W. McGalliard via Wikimedia Commons.)


  1. truth is not by consensus

    Should Doctors Kick Out Patients for Refusing Measles Vaccine?

    Doctors who have taken an oath to “do no harm” should be ashamed of themselves. It is a sad day in America when Parents know more about vaccines than the Doctors. This isn’t about a “deadly disease” being passed onto others when for the last 4 decades outbreaks of all the childhood illness have been occurring in highly vaccinated populations. Pubmed is full of these reports.

    Dr. Gregory Poland is Professor of Medicine and founder and leader of Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group. Poland is one of the world’s most admired, most advanced thinkers in the field of vaccinology.

    “The measles vaccine has failed”, he explained two years ago in a prescient paper, “The re-emergence of measles in developed countries.” In that paper, he warned that due to factors that most haven’t noticed, measles has come back to be a serious public health threat. Poland sees the need for a major rethink, after concluding that the current measles vaccine is unlikely to ever live up to the job expected of it: “outbreaks are occurring even in highly developed countries where vaccine access, public health infrastructure, and health literacy are not significant issues. This is unexpected and a worrisome harbinger — measles outbreaks are occurring where they are least expected,” he wrote in his 2012 paper, listing the “surprising numbers of cases occurring in persons who previously received one or even two documented doses of measles-containing vaccine.” During the 1989-1991 U.S. outbreaks, 20% to 40% of those affected had received one to two doses. In a 2011 outbreak in Canada, “over 50% of the 98 individuals had received two doses of measles vaccine.”
    Paper: The Re-Emergence of Measles in Developed Countries: Time to Develop the Next-Generation Measles Vaccines? http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih (dot) gov/pmc/articles/PMC3905323/

    -Arch Intern Med. 1994 Aug 22;154(16):1815-20.
    Failure to reach the goal of measles elimination. Apparent paradox of measles infections in immunized persons.
    Poland GA1, Jacobson RM.
    The apparent paradox is that as measles immunization rates rise to high levels in a population, measles becomes a disease of immunized persons. Because of the failure rate of the vaccine and the unique transmissibility of the measles virus, the currently available measles vaccine, used in a single-dose strategy, is unlikely to completely eliminate measles. The long-term success of a two-dose strategy to eliminate measles remains to be determined. http://archinte.jamanetwork (dot) com/article.aspx?articleid=619215

    I guess those end of the year bonuses for having a 100% vaccination rate in a practice mean more than the health and well being of children.

    There has been no deaths from measles in the last 10 years according to the National Vital Statics Report of the CDC despite the dozens of outbreaks of measles in highly vaccinated populations. In that same time frame a ten year period for deaths due to all measles vaccines, including a few that are no longer in production. The search result contained 108 deaths over this period, resulting from four different measles vaccines sold in the United States during the past 10 years. http://network.sophiamedia (dot) com/vaccineimpact/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2015/01/VAERS-Measles-Vaccine-Deaths.jpg

    “The Baltimore Health Department is investigating a possible measles case in a 12-month-old Baltimore resident…The symptoms started after the child received the vaccine.” – WBAL-TV 11, 2015

    “That’s why a fully vaccinated 22-year-old theater employee in New York City who developed the measles in 2011 was released without hospitalization or quarantine. But like Typhoid Mary, this patient turned out to be unwittingly contagious. Ultimately, she transmitted the measles to four other people, according to a recent report in Clinical Infectious Diseases that tracked symptoms in the 88 people with whom “Measles Mary” interacted while she was sick.” – American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 2014

    At the end of their careers those doctors who refuse to care for children, the most vulnerable beings that have been put in the care of the people on this planet and realize they have treated them shamefully and abusively by refusing them care, will these people feel just? Will they feel they did the right thing considering the false paradigm of vaccinations is falling apart I think the karma they have generated will run over their Dharma.

  2. Public seems to believe anything today without questioning the source! A sign of increasing illiteracy.

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