Measles vaccination is not protecting against measles

Simin Williams

COLUMN

The two areas with highest measles outbreak have MMR vaccination rates of 97 percent.* Yes, you read it right, more than that 95 percent figure our Ministry of Health advisers keep telling us would ensure “herd immunity”!

The lowest vaccinated regions have the lowest measles rates, or indeed zero cases as is the case in Gisborne.**

Next let’s look at the official data for the Canterbury outbreak, which is now officially over.** Cumulative total for that outbreak was 49! You may be surprised as we were led to believe it was a big outbreak. This information obtained under the OIA may shed some light:

Dr Shane Reti to the Associated Health Minister (27 Aug 2019): “How many samples tested at the National Measles Laboratory in Christchurch, if any, identified the vaccine strain of the measles virus?”

Hon Julie Anne Genter replied: “61 samples tested between 1 January 2019 and 19 July 2019 detected the vaccine strain of the measles virus and were subsequently identified as not being cases of measles.”

Please do read that statement again and see that based on the official data, the majority of measles cases were due to measles vaccine, not wild measles. I let you draw your own conclusions!

Also, have you noticed that in all announcements those older than 50 are told that they don’t need MMR vaccine? Ever wondered why? They are immune due to natural exposure to measles in childhood (remember measles parties) and any such immunised-for-life mother was able to pass that immunity to her baby during pregnancy and via breastfeeding.

So, prior to the measles vaccines, measles was a childhood disease which parents knew how to deal with (cod liver oil — VitA — plenty of fluid, sleep in a dark room, rest at home) and other parents would welcome their children’s exposure and thus-acquired life-time immunity. Measles wasn’t even an issue for a healthy breast-fed child.

All problems arose after measles vaccination started and as a result many people started to get measles at an age-inappropriate time. Also, as mothers no longer had immunity, they couldn’t pass it to their babies. And as we see, based on our own official data, the measles vaccine doesn’t offer protection for our children and there is a mass, hyped panic re measles!

Also, your readers may like to know that if someone is vaccinated with MMR and develops measles in the following two weeks, their status is recorded as “unvaccinated”!! This artificially and misleadingly increases the number of “unvaccinated” cases and reduces the number who have been vaccinated and develop measles.

Any nurse in Auckland hospitals could tell you that more than half of those turning up with measles are vaccinated! A majority of those categorised as “Unknown” are indeed vaccinated against measles but don’t have their vaccination records, while their parents testify that they had vaccinated their kids according to the NZ schedule.

Pacific Islanders, who have one of the highest vaccination rates in NZ, also have the highest rate of measles. The higher rate of hospitalisation (which is defined as more than three hours in hospital) is partly due to quarantine cases where the patient can’t be sent home for isolation purposes (and not due to the severity of their case).

I find the lack of advice for treatment of this childhood disease from public health officials extremely disconcerting. And as you see, blaming outbreaks on the unvaccinated is not borne by official data. Indeed, if we are truly concerned by measles outbreaks we would halt MMR vaccine immediately, as data shows those populations with a higher rate of MMR are more likely to develop measles.

* Obtained under OIA

** https://surv.esr.cri.nz/surveillance/WeeklyMeaslesRpt.php?we_objectID=5032

Theo Brandt, Communications manager for The Immunisation Advisory Centre, University of Auckland responds.

New Zealand is experiencing a serious outbreak of measles, the worst we’ve seen in decades. Many people, particularly infants too young to be fully immunised, have suffered severe complications requiring intensive hospital treatment. This is not a disease that can always be managed by a healthy lifestyle, cod liver oil or rest.

Misconceptions are being shared across social media in New Zealand about our MMR immunisation coverage, the seriousness of measles and the effectiveness of the MMR vaccine.

1. Some people claim that data from the Ministry of Health and the National Immunisation Register (NIR) show high MMR coverage across the country. This incorrect claim is based on misuse of data. The data show that of children offered MMR vaccination, 97 percent completed and 3 percent declined. Population coverage cannot be calculated from these two groups alone. This calculation does not include many other children who were eligible but did not complete or decline vaccination. Omitting this group from the calculation creates a false impression of overinflated coverage. Inferring failure of population protection made from these claims is incorrect.

New Zealand has a measles outbreak because our immunisation coverage is sub-optimal. Historically it was particularly low, leaving many adolescents and midlife adults now at risk, often unaware they are not protected. If all eligible people had two doses of MMR, measles could not spread so easily. This is well demonstrated in other countries using the same vaccine, where rates of vaccine coverage of 95 percent or greater shows sustained prevention of the spread of measles.

2. An uncommon but known side effect of the MMR vaccine is the occurrence of a mild rash and fever. This is caused by the immune system’s response to the measles or rubella component of the vaccine. People with this rash have a reaction to the vaccine strain, not transmissible measles. They cannot pass on measles to anyone and are correctly excluded as measles cases.

3. It is true that some people with measles have had two doses of the MMR vaccine (currently 75 of the 1275 cases in New Zealand). This is because no vaccine is 100 percent effective. When tens of thousands of people are vaccinated, a small number of these will still contract the disease. If 100 vaccinated people were all exposed to measles, we would expect 1 or 2 to get the disease. If 100 unvaccinated people were exposed to the disease, then about 90 of them would get measles.

4. Mothers immunised against measles do pass on some protection to their unborn child. This protection doesn’t last more than a few months.

Measles is not a disease that can be easily treated. The complications from measles can be managed, but as mentioned, there are never any guarantees that we will successfully manage all cases, even in well-nourished, breast-fed children and with the most advanced heathcare. It is a credit to the NZ health services that to date no one has died in this outbreak, despite much severe illness.

Although we can’t treat measles, we can prevent it. Since 2000, 21.1 million deaths have been prevented by the measles vaccine (World Health Organisation data). The WHO cautions against “Vaccine misinformation” which it indicates “has the potential to impact public health and is as contagious and dangerous as the diseases it helps spread”.

-Written with Dr Nikki Turner and Donna Watson of The Immunisation Advisory Centre.

See also Gisborne Herald editorial response to criticisms regarding the publication of Simin Williams' column.

The two areas with highest measles outbreak have MMR vaccination rates of 97 percent.* Yes, you read it right, more than that 95 percent figure our Ministry of Health advisers keep telling us would ensure “herd immunity”!

The lowest vaccinated regions have the lowest measles rates, or indeed zero cases as is the case in Gisborne.**

Next let’s look at the official data for the Canterbury outbreak, which is now officially over.** Cumulative total for that outbreak was 49! You may be surprised as we were led to believe it was a big outbreak. This information obtained under the OIA may shed some light:

Dr Shane Reti to the Associated Health Minister (27 Aug 2019): “How many samples tested at the National Measles Laboratory in Christchurch, if any, identified the vaccine strain of the measles virus?”

Hon Julie Anne Genter replied: “61 samples tested between 1 January 2019 and 19 July 2019 detected the vaccine strain of the measles virus and were subsequently identified as not being cases of measles.”

Please do read that statement again and see that based on the official data, the majority of measles cases were due to measles vaccine, not wild measles. I let you draw your own conclusions!

Also, have you noticed that in all announcements those older than 50 are told that they don’t need MMR vaccine? Ever wondered why? They are immune due to natural exposure to measles in childhood (remember measles parties) and any such immunised-for-life mother was able to pass that immunity to her baby during pregnancy and via breastfeeding.

So, prior to the measles vaccines, measles was a childhood disease which parents knew how to deal with (cod liver oil — VitA — plenty of fluid, sleep in a dark room, rest at home) and other parents would welcome their children’s exposure and thus-acquired life-time immunity. Measles wasn’t even an issue for a healthy breast-fed child.

All problems arose after measles vaccination started and as a result many people started to get measles at an age-inappropriate time. Also, as mothers no longer had immunity, they couldn’t pass it to their babies. And as we see, based on our own official data, the measles vaccine doesn’t offer protection for our children and there is a mass, hyped panic re measles!

Also, your readers may like to know that if someone is vaccinated with MMR and develops measles in the following two weeks, their status is recorded as “unvaccinated”!! This artificially and misleadingly increases the number of “unvaccinated” cases and reduces the number who have been vaccinated and develop measles.

Any nurse in Auckland hospitals could tell you that more than half of those turning up with measles are vaccinated! A majority of those categorised as “Unknown” are indeed vaccinated against measles but don’t have their vaccination records, while their parents testify that they had vaccinated their kids according to the NZ schedule.

Pacific Islanders, who have one of the highest vaccination rates in NZ, also have the highest rate of measles. The higher rate of hospitalisation (which is defined as more than three hours in hospital) is partly due to quarantine cases where the patient can’t be sent home for isolation purposes (and not due to the severity of their case).

I find the lack of advice for treatment of this childhood disease from public health officials extremely disconcerting. And as you see, blaming outbreaks on the unvaccinated is not borne by official data. Indeed, if we are truly concerned by measles outbreaks we would halt MMR vaccine immediately, as data shows those populations with a higher rate of MMR are more likely to develop measles.

* Obtained under OIA

** https://surv.esr.cri.nz/surveillance/WeeklyMeaslesRpt.php?we_objectID=5032

Theo Brandt, Communications manager for The Immunisation Advisory Centre, University of Auckland responds.

New Zealand is experiencing a serious outbreak of measles, the worst we’ve seen in decades. Many people, particularly infants too young to be fully immunised, have suffered severe complications requiring intensive hospital treatment. This is not a disease that can always be managed by a healthy lifestyle, cod liver oil or rest.

Misconceptions are being shared across social media in New Zealand about our MMR immunisation coverage, the seriousness of measles and the effectiveness of the MMR vaccine.

1. Some people claim that data from the Ministry of Health and the National Immunisation Register (NIR) show high MMR coverage across the country. This incorrect claim is based on misuse of data. The data show that of children offered MMR vaccination, 97 percent completed and 3 percent declined. Population coverage cannot be calculated from these two groups alone. This calculation does not include many other children who were eligible but did not complete or decline vaccination. Omitting this group from the calculation creates a false impression of overinflated coverage. Inferring failure of population protection made from these claims is incorrect.

New Zealand has a measles outbreak because our immunisation coverage is sub-optimal. Historically it was particularly low, leaving many adolescents and midlife adults now at risk, often unaware they are not protected. If all eligible people had two doses of MMR, measles could not spread so easily. This is well demonstrated in other countries using the same vaccine, where rates of vaccine coverage of 95 percent or greater shows sustained prevention of the spread of measles.

2. An uncommon but known side effect of the MMR vaccine is the occurrence of a mild rash and fever. This is caused by the immune system’s response to the measles or rubella component of the vaccine. People with this rash have a reaction to the vaccine strain, not transmissible measles. They cannot pass on measles to anyone and are correctly excluded as measles cases.

3. It is true that some people with measles have had two doses of the MMR vaccine (currently 75 of the 1275 cases in New Zealand). This is because no vaccine is 100 percent effective. When tens of thousands of people are vaccinated, a small number of these will still contract the disease. If 100 vaccinated people were all exposed to measles, we would expect 1 or 2 to get the disease. If 100 unvaccinated people were exposed to the disease, then about 90 of them would get measles.

4. Mothers immunised against measles do pass on some protection to their unborn child. This protection doesn’t last more than a few months.

Measles is not a disease that can be easily treated. The complications from measles can be managed, but as mentioned, there are never any guarantees that we will successfully manage all cases, even in well-nourished, breast-fed children and with the most advanced heathcare. It is a credit to the NZ health services that to date no one has died in this outbreak, despite much severe illness.

Although we can’t treat measles, we can prevent it. Since 2000, 21.1 million deaths have been prevented by the measles vaccine (World Health Organisation data). The WHO cautions against “Vaccine misinformation” which it indicates “has the potential to impact public health and is as contagious and dangerous as the diseases it helps spread”.

-Written with Dr Nikki Turner and Donna Watson of The Immunisation Advisory Centre.

See also Gisborne Herald editorial response to criticisms regarding the publication of Simin Williams' column.

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J Brown - 25 days ago
Thank you, Simin.
It is a real shame that investigative journalism is dead. No one will report true statistics because how else would they incite mass measles hysteria? I'm still to see one story regarding vaccine injury. I know a handful of people, right here in little ol Gizzy, that have dealt with vaccine-related health issues. You won't hear of these stories in the media though. The thing is, most "antivaxxers" are exvaxxers. They DID vaccinate. Now the "herd" doesn't want to hear their story. The very same "herd" they were trying to protect, now want to silence and belittle them.

I and so many others appreciate you sharing this information, Simin. It is frustrating watching and listening to the news with their one-sided, biased reporting. I am yet to find a double-blind placebo- control study, (considered the "gold standard) for any one of our childhood vaccines. Apparently, the reason for this is because it would be unethical. But encouraging pregnant woman to have the Tdap and flu shot isn't?
FYI there have been zero safety studies conducted for vaccines in pregnancy. Why? It's considered UNETHICAL!
I heard about a researcher in Dunedin who wanted to use a prick of baby blood, before and after vaccines, to study any changes that took place. The researcher was denied on the grounds it was UNETHICAL. You can't make this stuff up! Oh man, good luck with your vaccine.


Alex, Auckland - 24 days ago
Finally someone speaking some sense on the measles topic. It is a benign childhood illness. I'm much more afraid of the MMR vaccine and wouldn't inject this into my child if someone paid me to. Health doesn't come in a syringe.

Jennifer Gini, Wellington - 24 days ago
Great to see some honest, factual reporting . . . it is rare.

Eloise - 24 days ago
So where are the Auckland nurses to back up her statements? *crickets* the usual anti-vaccine fantasy stories.

J, Nelson - 24 days ago
This the biggest load of misinformation and misrepresentation I have ever seen published in an NZ paper. How did this get past the editor?

Grant Jacobs (Scientist and science writer) - 24 days ago
Why is this being published? It's a running stream of recent anti-vaccine memes related to the Auckland measles outbreak. I'd be happy to write a rebuttal, but I would strongly encourage the newspaper in future to recognise it for the junk it is and not publish this sort of thing. After all, much more useful stuff could occupy the space and the readers (rightfully) lose trust in the newspaper.

The question is said to be obtained by OIA, as if it were data being keep hidden from the writer. It is not: it is openly available from the parliamentary questions website - https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/order-paper-questions/written-questions/document/WQ_30602_2019/30602-2019-dr-shane-reti-to-the-health-associate-minister

(The newspaper could have checked this themselves.) You'll read the writer going to say that this is evidence of the vaccine causing measles, but the Associate Minister clearly said these people did not have measles.

A few people who get the vaccine get a mild rash. No illness, no complications like pneumonia or worse; just a rash. It is a harmless side-effect of the vaccination in a few people. During measles outbreaks these rashes can get confused with measles cases because they superficially look similar, so they are tested. These people do not get measles and cannot spread measles to others.

Sofie Rose, Hawke's Bay - 24 days ago
Very disappointed in The Gisborne Herald for publishing this, even if it is in their 'opinion' section. In an area of the country with poor health literacy, an article like this, riddled with misinformation, could start a metaphorical fire. Te Tairawhiti already has heart-breaking statistics in almost every realm, aside from their wonderful vaccination rates. As a health care professional, having worked with Ngati Porou Hauora and their whanau, this is incredibly frustrating.

Marie - 23 days ago
I am incredibly disappointed in The Gisborne Herald to be printing this antivax propaganda. This is irresponsible to give this oxygen. Yes, you may have printed a response but printing this absolute rubbish in the first place means the damage has been done. Stop giving legitimacy to the anti-vaccine message when there is none.

Pamela Goodchild, Sacramento - 23 days ago
This is a great read . . . thank you for this information. It's about time people learned that vaccinations are just for money and not health.

Tony, Motueka - 23 days ago
I'm an advocate for free speech. But I think this article pushes free speech to its most dangerous limits. An article like this could indirectly kill people.
More or less all people who have contracted measles in this recent outbreak are not vaccinated.

Sally, Hamilton - 23 days ago
THIS SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO BE PUBLISHED! This information is incorrect, and publishing it is dangerous! I urge The Gisborne Herald to delete this before people base decisions on this misinformation - measles is a serious illness!

Pataka, Otaki - 23 days ago
I don't think she is necessarily anti-vaccine in her story, to me she is just telling it how it is.

Stella McLeod, Rotorua - 23 days ago
Could Theo Brandt of the IAC explain how WHO arrived at the figure that 21.1 million deaths have been prevented since 2000? If he doesn't know, this author traced the 2007 figures back to the source.

"The fact is: no one knows how many people died of measles in Africa. No one! Not last year and not ten years ago.
"I will repeat that. No one knows how many measles deaths have occurred in Africa. So, where did these figures come from? I will explain that in this chapter. In a nutshell, they were calculated on a spreadsheet, using a formula. You may be surprised when I show you how simple the method was..."
"...First, an overview of the formula. The authors looked at it this way: for every million vaccines given out, we hope to save 'X' lives. From that premise, we simply count how many million vaccines we gave out, and multiply that by 'X' to calculate how many lives (we think) we have saved. That is how the figures were arrived at..."
http://vaccinationdilemma.com/chapters/Chapter2.pdf

J Brown - 23 days ago
I find it humorous that Theo Brandt had to ask 'I'm Just a Dad' where this information came from. Little surprised, so it seems. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCsjh_nSWX4

Willis, Masterton - 23 days ago
For those who are proclaiming that this article needs to be revoked etc, how about clicking over to one of the big foreign-owned media outlets. I'm sure you will be satisfied with the level of bias at Newshub, Stuff and NZ Herald. Thank goodness some editorial integrity still exists in the regions - the Te Awamutu Courier being another who has offered an alternative view in the past.

Unfortunately news from those outlets will leave you massively short of the real story. You will need to search independently "Bill SB276" in the States where medical exemptions have been removed for children wanting to attend school in California. Something Dr Lance O'sullivan advocates for in NZ. If you are comfortable with the state deciding what goes in your body without the ability to question as you have stated in these comments, then I worry for our future. Might go read some George Orwell now.

Stella McLeod, Rotorua - 23 days ago
Theo Brandt forgot to mention that mothers who naturally acquired measles pass on to their babies stronger and longer protection as this study confirmed. What was known before the study:
"Infants of women vaccinated against measles receive fewer maternal antibodies and thus have shorter protection than infants of women with naturally acquired immunity.
Whether the amount of maternal antibodies is still sufficient to protect infants until the first dose of vaccine is administered in the era of changing measles epidemiology is not known."
Results of the study:
"Vaccinated women had significantly fewer IgG antibodies (geometric mean titre 779 (95% confidence interval 581 to 1045) mIU/ml) than did naturally immune women (2687 (2126 to 3373) mIU/ml) (P<0.001). Maternal values were highly correlated with neonatal values (r=0.93 at birth). Infants of vaccinated women had significantly lower antibody concentrations than did infants of naturally immune women (P<0.001 at all ages over the follow-up period). Presence of maternal antibodies endured for a median of 2.61 months?3.78 months for infants of naturally infected women and 0.97 months for infants of vaccinated women. At 6 months of age, more than 99% of infants of vaccinated women and 95% of infants of naturally immune women had lost maternal antibodies according to the model."
https://www.bmj.com/content/340/bmj.c1626

Ben Classen, Auckland - 23 days ago
Atrocious that an otherwise legitimate NZ newspaper company would publish such blatant misinformation. This is outright anti-vaccination propaganda, the prevalence of which is directly correlated with the recent resurgence of what was, until recently, a largely forgotten about preventable disease.
The spread of these poorly researched/contextualised facts and figures constitutes a serious risk to public health.
Shame on you Gisborne Herald!

Chloe, Auckland - 23 days ago
How refreshing it is to see an article presented on this topic which shows both perspectives. Vaccination in NZ is a choice, and yet until now media and others have refused to present both sides of the story. If you pay attention to the messages of both sides, the medical profession says MMR reduces the spread of measles, antivaxers say MMR has the potential to cause injury. I have not heard the medical profession outright deny the possibility of injury nor antivaxers say MMR does not reduce the spread of measles. Therefore the choice we make is based on one of personal risk. We are all entitled to have access to accurate information to make that choice for ourselves and our children.

Catherine OSullivan, Auckland - 23 days ago
Well done Simin Williams. People are unwilling to think for themselves on so many levels. Calling this propaganda is telling. Simin is using the great gaping hole of logic with the official story re the 97% herd immunity, given evidence is quite the opposite: just stating facts. Furthermore, printing the OIA request should be quite sufficient for people to tick over in their brains with what those 61 cases of measles coming from vaccine strain means. Misinformation?? Of the 2 weeks after vaccination that children are not deemed as being vaccinated: how deceitful.
The Mayo clinic is using the measles vaccine widely for treating cancer. Scientists have long known that getting sick with the measles can sometimes trigger spontaneous reduction in the size of tumours.
In 2014 a Mayo clinic trial put a late stage cancer patient into long-term remission. Terminally ill, suffering every type of chemo, two stem cell transplants, with loads of relapses her advanced multiple myeloma (blood cancer) spread even to her bone marrow. The last ditch treatment of a dose of measles showed within 5 mins: a splitting headache, fever of 105 temp followed by vomiting and shaking. Within 36 hrs a golf ball sized tumour on her forehead had disappeared and within 2 weeks there was no cancer detectable in her body.
Treating cancer with viruses is not new. Mayo Clinic researcher Dr Angela Dispenzieri explains 'There's also evidence that the virus stimulates the immune system, helping it recognize any recurring cancer cells and 'mop them up'."
Subsequent clinical trials have shown similar results with ovarian cancer, breast cancer, and non-Hodgkins lymmphoma according to a 2016 research paper titled 'Measles to the Rescue' https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5086626

Current trials are looking at the effects of the measles on glioblastoma multiforme, mesothelioma and squamous cell carcinoma.

Hilary Butler, Auckland - 23 days ago
Measles Misconceptions Theo Brandt? I'm very surprised to hear you use those words, because you are now creating new misconceptions by altering the NIR data with confounders which are statistically insignificant. In other words, you are doing finagle factor finger painting.

Don't you find it interesting that the NIR data doesn't MATCH the data the the MoH has given the public, WHO, or Shane Reti?

Why are "you" - with the Ministry of Health - continually doctoring the data to suit different audiences?

Isn't science supposed to be about truth?

You say, 4. Mothers immunised against measles do pass on some protection to their unborn child. This protection doesn't last more than a few months."
Second generation vaccinated mothers pass almost nothing on to their babies, which means whereas NZ once had to keep raising the age of vaccination in the 80s, because naturally immune mother's antibodies interfered with the vaccine up to 13 months, now it's unlikely for babies of second generation vaccinated mothers to get more than three months of vaccine induced IgG if they are lucky. But your solution is that if everyone else was vaccinated, the fact that your vaccine has massively broken down post natal infant immunity in a multifactorial way, is of no concern to you.
You also say, "Measles is not a disease that can be easily treated. The complications from measles can be managed, but as mentioned, there are never any guarantees that we will successfully manage all cases, even in well-nourished, breast-fed children and with the most advanced heathcare. It is a credit to the NZ health services that to date no one has died in this outbreak, despite much severe illness.
Although we can't treat measles . .." You also say, "Many people, particularly infants too young to be fully immunised, have suffered severe complications requiring intensive hospital treatment."

According to the medical profession you have "no treatment" for measles at all.
So why have the hospitals been treating most of the simpler measles cases with paracetamol, steroids for breathing issues, and antibiotics to prevent a secondary infection? Oh, and vitamin E for energy !!!@?@!!. I hate to think how the three encephalitis cases were treated, if that's what was used on "simpler" cases.
Doesn't the medical profession know about the WHO reports which say not to use paracetamol for infection fevers? Doesn't the medical profession know the medical literature which shows that paracetamol down-regulates some of the very front line immune system needed to fight measles, along with messing up other parts of immune response? Doesn't the medical profession know the medical literature showing that antibiotics are proviral? Doesn't the medical profession know that using all these things together is likely to increase the severity of infections and complications? So were these cases of severe complications, the result of the hospital treatment or measles? (TO BE CONTINUED)

Hilary Butler - 23 days ago
Part 2 because of word limit:

So were these cases of severe complications, the result of the hospital treatment or measles? It's also notable that most of the cases featured in the media had co-morbidities as well. Yet they are presented as if that would be the "norm"?

You say, measles can't ALWAYS be managed by "a healthy lifestyle, cod liver oil or rest". Says who?
When do YOU get to SEE any children with measles who have parents who KNOW what they are doing? You don't. They recover easily without your interference.
Have you not read the nearly five decades of medical literature on how cod liver oil absolutely reduces the severity, sequelae and deaths of measles? Did you go and talk to Dr Cameron Grant about whether or not cod liver oil and nutrition might be some use in New Zealand? In 1997 on a radio show he said that such data didn't apply to NZ. I told him to go away and do a study to prove that.

Dr Cameron Grant went away and did some studies, which he published. You should read them Theo, because they proved exactly what I was saying in 1997 - that in the Polynesian and Maori who have the highest attack rates, deficiencies in vitamin A, D and other macro and micronutrients were a cause for serious medical concern, and this nutrient poverty probably also explains why infections like scarlet fever, pneumonia, cellulitis and other child infections, also take a higher toll in those populations as well.
Nutrition and cell mediated immunity go hand in hand and educated parents know that well.

But what is more interesting than all of that, is that the fearmongering statistics you give about how many encephalitis cases, and deaths there would be if we didn't vaccinated, do not MATCH UP to the prevaccine data from the Ministry of Health (Unless you count 1900 to 1910). The MOH statistics show far lower rates of complications, encephalitis and deaths than we are being told today.

I wonder why that is Theo? Are you altering that data, along with the NIR and WHO data, to also suit the audience?

Kayla, Tauranga - 23 days ago
Thank you Simin! Very wise and brave. Thank you so much for writing this!

JohnM - 23 days ago
http://gisborneherald.co.nz/opinion/4310216-135/vaccination-is-the-best-protection

Shawn Siegel, US - 23 days ago
Thanks - to Ms. Williams and in particular to Catherine O'Sullivan, who addressed the essential benefits of infectious illness, in this case specifically of measles, and its ability to fight cancer.

A study published years back in the Lancet told us that measles without rash in childhood is associated with sebaceous skin disease, degenerative disease of bone and cartilage, and certain tumours later in life. The rash, it seems, is essential to successful, complete recovery. The vaccine industry's very good at getting us to doubt ourselves, doubt our bodies; at creating unwarranted fear of the natural process of detox and self-cleanse we call infectious illness; at misrepresenting the attendant symptoms as the enemy, when they are in fact the essential, powerful tools of the immune system. Two quotes from MDs:

"[With vaccination] what in reality is prevented is not the disease but the ability of our cellular immune system to manifest, to respond to and to overcome the disease! There is no system of the human being, from mind to muscles to immune system, which gets stronger through avoiding challenges, but only through overcoming challenges." - Dr. Philip Incao

And from pediatrician Dr. Paul Thomas, who has more than 13,000 kids in his practice, 10% of whom - an appreciable metric - don't vaccinate:

"As unpopular as this observation might be, my unvaccinated children are by far the healthiest."

Ngahuia Hawke, Tamaki Makaurau - 23 days ago
Thank you for two sides. That's how real decisions are made not just the HIStory but also HERstory so to speak! We are all entitled to decide what goes in our bodies, I mean like it's even a stick-like figure being POKED into you. If I want to decide that I don't want to be poked and I don't want my children to be, then shouldn't I be allowed? Cos that's what's happening and then you get something left in you that you don't have any idea what it is and I'm supposed to trust you? If you didn't know I was talking about a vaccine you would probably say no to any of this happening! And in America it happens 100 times. Yep, cos America is a great example....we all know that's a Tui ad!

Heather, Canada - 23 days ago
Can't help but notice that the responder who is probably going to lose his job if he doesn't defend vaccinations, ignored the benefits of lifelong immunity and how the people over 50 are helping contribute to herd immunity. They also have ignored the fact that there have not been safety studies done on these products. Measles can be treated with cod liver oil etc, but perhaps not with pharmaceutical drugs which is what this person was referring to. The main priority is to ensure that the person is well nourished and lives with clean water before they get it. Then it is rarely, rarely, rarely a problem.

Ron Law, risk and policy adviser - 22 days ago
Dr Suzanne Poole takes umbrage at the article on measles penned by Simin Williams. She refers to the article as "Fake News" at the same time she lauds IMAC's communications manager, Theo Brandt. A great deal of misinformation has indeed been put around regarding measles; unfortunately much of it by officials, including from the MOH and IMAC. In response to a Parliamentary written question the Associate Minister of Health gave a set of figures claiming to be the vaccination rates for the MMR vaccine for dose 1 and dose 2. The vaccination rates were quite low. In a recent report to the WHO by the Ministry of Health, released last week under the Official Information Act, the vaccination rates were considerably higher. In data direct from the National Immunisation Register, also provided by the Ministry of Health under the Official Information Act, the rates were somewhat higher again. Mr Brandt's and Dr Poole's protests are not evidence-based. The Ministry of Health has not been honest with the public. Not only are MMR vaccination rates much higher than publicly claimed, but Simin Williams is quite right when she says that the areas with the highest vaccination rates [Auckland, Counties Manukau and Canterbury DHBs] have the highest rates of confirmed measles infections, that the ethnic group (Pacific Island) with the highest vaccination rate has the highest incidence of measles, and DHBs with some of the lowest vaccination rates have no recorded measles. If health officials complain about fake news they first need to make sure that they are not the source of such news. Informed consent is about being informed; it is not about being sheople. Since the last measles death in New Zealand in 1991 750,000 New Zealanders have died, including 8000 under five year olds. During that time not a single person has died of the measles. Measles deaths had declined to very low levels in developed countries well before any measles vaccine was introduced. Scaremongering is not the basis of good policy.

Paula Renouf NP (Child and youth) - 22 days ago
I am dismayed that the editor is being shamed and shot down for publishing Simin Williams' letter to the paper . . . surely letters are written and published to promote debate and allow for evidence-based correction? IMAC has written a response yet it fails to address both the deeper concerns of the writer and potentially causes more confusion. Firstly, rebuttal 1 in the IMAC response is confusing to me, let alone a lay person.
Secondly, infants may indeed be more susceptible to measles infection due to a much lower antibody transfer and faster waning immunity from breast-feeding mothers who had vaccination rather than wild virus infection (cdc.govt), so Simin may have a point there (infant incidence twice as high as any other age group in 1989-91 outbreak in USA, cdc.govt). This is a concern to be further researched and acknowledged in the discussion, not denied.
With regard to Simin's comment on Pacific Islanders, two issues need clarification a) PI infants and children not yet vaccinated are not protected (and the "herd" on which they depend for protection is not limited to that community! ) b) Are there ethnic as well as socioeconomic risk factors which play into severity of infant illness in that community? This is not addressed in the IMAC response.

In NZ there is NO guarantee that parents are afforded proper discussion of risks and benefits with a trusted health professional. In my clinical experience (as a NP doing infant six-week exams) parents come to General Practice for the six-week check and immunisations, generally completely ill prepared by the LMC ( midwife) for immunisation and the consent forms provided in NZ General Practice are a joke (compare to the US CDC parent consent forms, all of which outline the benefits and all the risks for every vaccine including 'death') Furthermore, because of the fragmentation of care, the parent may at this six-week visit be seeing a completely new GP or NP/RN so trust has not been built. Most parents believe in vaccines and implicitly trust that we are doing the right thing. Some are on a scale from hesitant, to sceptical, to deniers, and each parent needs an empathetic and accepting response. One can even conclude that "we disagree on vaccines but agree on doing the very best for your child's health so my job is to keep the discussion open, discuss at every visit and address your concerns as time goes by etc" - ie keep the door wide open, NOT accuse them of killing other children etc or to write them off. Primary care practitioners and especially visiting tamariki ora/Plunket-well child (TO/WC) nurses need to be well versed in all the arguments and research, but I wonder what percentage of Well Child providers feel competent to address vaccine refusal and address risks and harms effectively, seeing as they are not authorised vaccinators and may not have the interest or training to do so (please prove me wrong LMCs/TO/WC providers!)
Thank you to the editor for providing this forum.

Stella McLeod - 22 days ago
How ironic. An interesting study that shows that measles vaccination is actually harming immuno-compromised people who need plasma infusions and rely on it containing sufficient measles antibodies. Apparently the best source is plasma from people who naturally acquired measles. Even revaccinating prior to plasma donation doesn't help because the number of titres wanes within a year. The study includes graphs to illustrate this.
https://academic.oup.com/jid/article/216/8/977/4084678
So presumably all these people lining up for a second or third vaccine now, will only temporarily be safe from infection. Do they want yearly MMRs? Have the safety studies been done re getting more than two MMR vaccines?

Paula Renouf NP ( Child and Youth Health) - 22 days ago
Post script to my previous comment re LMC/TOWC providers' level of preparation of parents for initial immunisation and the informed consent process, I refer to my experience up to end of 2016, so I am hoping that matters have improved in Oct 2019!

KJ - 22 days ago
It's interesting that all of the critics of this article have no actual responses to the statistics that were presented. Why are the outbreaks happening in the areas with the highest vaccination rates? It's a completely valid question, yet it seems like nobody wants to address it. They just want to call people names.

NS - 22 days ago
KJ, yes, you know when people resort to name-calling and personal attacks, it's a pretty clear admission that they don't have a strong argument to support their position. I notice this pattern over and over: "anti-vaxxer" makes an intelligent, well thought-out point and provides supporting data and studies, and asks thoughtful questions, and "pro-vaxxer" comes back with, "vaccinate your crotch goblins, baby-killer" or something similar, and fails to address anything the other person has said. I wonder if those "pro-vaxxers" realise how clearly these types of comments have revealed the bankruptcy of their position. I think it's quite obvious to the silent readers who are sitting on the fence, not too sure what to think about all of this, which "side" has the stronger argument, especially when it is revealed that important details only emerge thanks to Information Act requests that force the government to acknowledge truths that do not support their agenda.

This was a fantastic letter and I am very happy that at least one newspaper is publishing letters and information that address both sides of the story.

Het, Northland - 21 days ago
Finally media doing their job - if more journalists actually were prepared to investigate in depth and offer both sides, the better it would be. Informed consent is required before any medical intervention - Nuremberg Code - that means all side-effects, all possible outcomes are discussed and a decision made where the parent/s can make a decision for their child with all information available. The measles virus can be detected in samples as either vaccine strain or wild-type strain and these figures should be available for public scrutiny.

Krishna Murphy, Auckland and other places - 20 days ago
Your article is SPOT ON! It's so refreshing (because it's RARE!) to see the actual TRUTH being printed and shown publicly - but of course the extra bit of "something else" from The Immunisation Advisory Centre had to be included...

Naomi, Tauranga - 20 days ago
Great, thanks. Finally some common bloody sense. And I'd be interested to know how WHO got their figures. WHO by the way are answerable to no one and have affiliations with pharmacueticals. Now watch anyone questioning vaccinations and their pros being stamped on!!

JohnM - 20 days ago
How about we look at the current situation in Auckland (rather than information from wherever, and whenever). Auckland . . . October . . . 2019.
For those who are against vaccinating children or themselves (and aged 1 to 40 or so). Would you (unvaccinated) be willing to go into a room - or put your unvaccinated child in the room - with a measles sufferer knowing that:
- you or your child will almost certainly develop measles infection
- there is a 1 in 3 chance you will end up in hospital (current Auckland statistics)

Yes, 2-3 people out of a hundred vaccinations can still develop measles. But the breakdown for that hospital stay?
Without vaccination? 30% chance of hospital
With vaccination? About 6%

Chris Hickie, MD PhD, Arizona - 20 days ago
This is ridiculous that you allow blatant lies from an anti-vaxxer to be published at all. Simin is your typical disease-spreading, ignorant, lying anti-vaxxer. As a pediatrician her ilk disgusts me, given that they revel in the return of these diseases.

Willow, Hawke's Bay - 20 days ago
Thank you so much Simin for having the courage to write this and Gizzy Herald for the oomph to publish it. We need more of this. Thank you.

JohnM - 20 days ago
*sigh* 0.6% that is, not 6%

Ron Law - 19 days ago
JohnM, as of mid September there have been 3 (three) admissions nationwide for 5-9 year olds and 9 (nine) over 50 years old. The vast majority of admissions have been babies. The next highest age groups are 25-29 and then 15-19 year olds. Nearly three quarters of admissions are classified as 'measles without complications'. Two thirds (2/3rds) were in hospital for 2 days or less. Most admissions have been in Counties Manukau, followed some distance back by Waitemata. Many admissions were quasi quarantined cases while they tracked contacts. In the Auckland region of those cases that have been serotyped, 1/3rd were type B3, 1/3rd were type D8, and 1/3rd type A. Type A is the vaccine strain. All the above information is from OIA requests.

Stella McLeod - 19 days ago
How about we look at the latest statistics and find out why some areas have such high hospitalisation rates compared to others. Why are they so high now compared to when almost every child contracted the measles and it wasn't deemed a notifiable disease? Why do some fully vaccinated people get the measles? Why aren't we identifying who really needs to get revaccinated and who doesn't by testing titres first?

https://surv.esr.cri.nz/PDF_surveillance/MeaslesRpt/2019/WeeklyMeasles09302019.pdf

JohnM - 19 days ago
Could have saved yourself a lot of OIA time Ron - most of that information is in the ESR surveillance reports. I'm sure that any parent with a child in hospital is not too comforted by the "without complications" tag . . . never mind the horrendous healthcare costs of hospital stays.

To your questions Stella, measles is considered eradicated in NZ (ie cases are not originating in NZ), hence the notifiable status. Our hospitalisation rates are much higher than seen in other countries. Measles is an RNA virus like the flu . . . are there changes in these outbreak strains making them more virulent? I don't know. No vaccine is perfect so yes, a low percentage of fully vaccinated people will get measles, as above from the Immunisation Centre.

Maddie, Rocha - 19 days ago
Thank you so much for putting this on your website! We really need to knock down the wall of hysteria surrounding vaccines and the fear of questioning health officials.

Axel, Auckland - 19 days ago
A Pubmed article - "Failure to reach the goal of measles elimination. Apparent paradox of measles infections in immunized persons." https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8053748

Lynda Donne, Rotorua - 18 days ago
Well if vaccines are so wonderful then why are my children so well and never get sick but yet have never had a vaccine, at 17 and 26. But my younger children who had some in the late '80s to 1992 had illnesses, febrile convulsions and infections. Once I did some research i realised that there were significant risks with vaccines and they also damaged the immune system. We now have a generation of children being used as human pin cushions and an epidemic of auto immune illnesses. I would think this is the bigger concern, that children now have allergies to everything and are getting diabetes and thyroid problems. Not to mention the neurological challenges we are seeing in this generation of children. Where are all the statistics for deaths related to vaccines, or are they just labelled as SIDs and never investigated because in NZ we do not even have a vaccine compensation reporting system set up? There are various diseases that are far worse than measles but yet no vaccines are used and no one seems to even talk about them. I feel people like Nikki Turner and Donna Watson have their head in the sand if they fail to realise the damage vaccines are doing to children and adults. :(

Stella McLeod - 16 days ago
John M, you didn't answer my questions.
I grew up in an era where almost every child had the measles and the only child I was aware of who was hospitalised was one of my sisters. If we were being hospitalised for measles at the same rate as today I think even a child might have noticed.

Yes the measles strains may be more virulent (is anyone researching this?) and also maybe, perhaps because of vaccines, some people's immune systems are not primed to cope with infections the way they should because vaccines bypass the body's first lines of defence, the skin, mucous membranes and the digestive system. We need to think about the common symptoms of illness: runny noses, rash, vomiting, diarrhoea and high temperatures (which kill viruses) as ways our bodies are fighting off infection. We should be taught how to assist our bodies to do that instead of routinely being given medication that interferes with the process like, for example, the acetaminophen in Pamol, Panadol and Paracetamol does.
Here's an article that addresses the issue of "fever phobia".
https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/127/3/580

Linda, Waihi - 16 days ago
This video is well worth the watch. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zN8fSyfbL2g

Bec Mosen, Australia - 16 days ago
Where can we contact Simin? If she's legitimate in her research I'm sure she won't mind having a genuine discussion.
Where can we view her medical or scientific credentials and where can we find "our own official data"? Who was involved in the collection of that official data, over what period, how big was the sample size and were the findings peer-reviewed?

J Brown - 15 days ago
I see that you printed my post in the paper yesterday. I also noticed you removed some key information regarding the TDaP and Flu vax not being tested for safety in pregnancy. This is fact. Why would you remove this? I can tell you why... You wanted to remove the information that supported my argument. This is called biased reporting! Just goes to show my comment "investigative journalism is dead is true. Why even bother starting a discussion if all you want to do is manipulate the truth?

Footnote from Ed: Many people will say none of your comment should have been published in the paper. I ran it because you are a local, unlike most of the people commenting, and it showed a taste of the anti-vaccination comments being posted on this column. I edited out that particular part as I felt it could raise undue concerns for pregnant women - who should take their advice on such matters from medical professionals.

J Brown - 15 days ago
Here is the issue with that. Those medical professionals do not inform pregnant women that there has been zero safety studies regarding vaccines in pregnancy. You say "undue concern" and I say "knowledge to make an informed decision".
It honestly blows my mind that you think it is OK to keep this information from the public.

Stella McLeod - 13 days ago
Theo Brandt says, "we can't treat measles" and overall feeds into the fear that measles is often a deadly disease.
On the contrary there are treatments for measles cases that don't recover on their own (most do) so why are we not hearing about them? Are we using them in New Zealand?

"What treatments are available for measles?
Since measles resolves on its own in almost all cases, usually only rest and hydration are necessary. When treatment is recommended, options include the following:
High-dose vitamin A
Immune globulin (available for immunocompromised patients, such as those on chemotherapy)
The antiviral medication, ribavirin."
(References are included if you follow the link.)
https://physiciansforinformedconsent.org/measles/dis/

Jeroen, Spain - 12 days ago
"Although we can't treat measles"
In what fantasy world does Theo Brandt live?

Measles is an illness that cures by itself if the patient gets rest and drinks enough. If you want to cure faster and be 100% sure there are no side-effects you add vitamine A and D.
Yes, measles is dangerous if you are undernourished. That is why children in Africa die from measles. But they die from a simple flu as well. Or from diarrhea.

I grew up in the time there were no measles vaccines and many children around me got measles. Nobody died, and serious side-effects where extremely rare.

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