Woman dies from measles in America. Take a bow, anti-vaxxers

This article from Slate reports that a woman in Washington State has died from measles – the first death from the virus in the US for 12 years. Normally I assume that any stance taken by that uber-smug liberal website will be wrong – but this time they’re bang on.

Phil Plait writes that the victim probably contracted measles when she visited a health facility – someone later identified as having measles was there at the same time. The woman who died was apparently taking medications that damaged her immune system: she died of pneumonia caused by the measles infection.

Then some killer facts:

Vaccination rates in that area of Washington are lower than they should be …

[The death] comes right after a huge and awful backlash against a new California law [making it harder for parents to opt-out of vaccinating their children] by the anti-vax crowd, including actor Jim Carrey, who tweeted a series of foolish and blatantly incorrect statements about vaccines. He brought up the zombie ideas of mercury poisoning (a non-issue) and conspiratorial Big Pharma nonsense.

Let me be very, very clear: Anti-vax rhetoric like that makes people scared to get vaccinated. Rates drop, herd immunity drops, outbreaks occur, and people get sick. Some die. This is a direct, step-by-step chain.

Take a bow, anti-vaxxers. You are not directly responsible for this woman’s death, but your pseudoscientific scaremongering – much of it resembling the bogus claims of homeopathy – helps makes such deaths possible.

Incidentally, History Today has just published an article about the eradication of smallpox, the last stores of which will be destroyed this year. There were plenty of anti-vaxxers around in those days – as late as 1889, there were over 100 anti-vaccination societies in Britain. In an era when people knew next to nothing about medical science, perhaps we can make excuses for them. But not for Jim Carrey and the lunatics who support him today.

  • SP_Davies

    Whoa geezer bit strong there. I was born in 1972 so was given measles vax as a baby. I have never been given a mumps or rubella vax. Hope you’re not throwing around a general accusation that my lack of rubella vax has endangered pregnant women.

    The fact is if you were born in the 1970s you would have have minimal vax as an infant. Girls were given rubella s late as secondary school before puberty. We were all given BCG and Polio vax at this rough age.

    If some people want to believe that massive doses of vax covering several serious illnesses at once to a human barely months old may have some health issues that is their choice. This fetish for imposing penalties for non vax is immoral.

    • edgar

      agree w SP Davies. it’s the right of the individual to consider the risks. There’s no smoking gun proof between vaccine & autisms at present — which is not to say a link won’t be found next year. The US govt website shows that the US has paid over $3 billion in vaccine injuries to over 16,000 claimants


      Vaccines are safe for most — not for ALL. I vaccinated my daughters 20+ years ago — not sure I’d do it today.

      Zero measles deaths in 12 years vs 1 in 68 chance of autism. To totally dismiss is a slap in the face to the thousands of moms who saw their kids developing normally and have an immediate post-vaccination reaction (fever, screaming, horrid diarrhea for weeks, etc). Big Pharma would have you believe all these moms are just crazy, hysterical bitches. I’ll trust the moms over Big Pharma

      • JB

        What risks? Have you not seen the recent paper? “Autism Occurrence by MMR Vaccine Status Among US Children With Older Siblings With and Without Autism”. There’s no proof because there isn’t a link! Stop ignoring the evidence.

        0 mealses deaths? Pretty sure this counts as a measles death. 1 in 68 chance attributable to vaccines? Citation needed.

        Anecdotal evidence is not evidence. You might avoid vaccines such as the one for whooping cough, a serious disease that can have permanent consequences. You then go to the Dr for treatment who gives you antibiotics made by the exact same company as the vaccine you just avoided. Picking and choosing medical treaments under the guise of “b b but Big Pharma!” doesn’t make sense.

        • Mary Ann

          Autism is in the genes.

          • flying dragon

            I saw two children, from the same family, go from normal pre-MMR to autistic immediately afterwards. They would tend to make me think there is a genetic link as you say.
            If they can identify the risky genes then maybe I’d vaccinate, without it’s russian roulette. My first three children were vaccinated – before I saw these two children ruined – my fourth only for measles. But just try and get a measles-only vaccine… I found one eventually in France.
            There are risks I am sure but any enquiry is set up to ask the wrong questions on purpose. Misinformation is part and parcel of modern public health.

      • Mary Ann

        Measles jabs do not cause autism.

        • flying dragon

          But we give MMR not measles.

    • JB

      “Adults and children who are not immune because they missed one or all
      MMR doses when younger can have the MMR vaccine on the NHS at any age.”

      No excuses, off you go.

      Yes people can believe what they want but when it potentially has an effect on others and is based on no credible evidence whatsoever other than what google university told them about immunology then yes we are right to be anti-anti-vax.

      People are not persecuted for their choices, other people have the right to a reduced risk of disease.

      • Mary Ann

        Especially babies who are too young to be vaccinated.

    • Mary Ann

      My children had mumps when they were five and seven, off their stroke for a few days, Before MMR. I caught it when I was in my late 40s I was ill in bed for about 10 days and unwell for the rest of the month.

  • ChrisTavareIsMyIdol

    This articles assumes a) vaccines always work (they don’t) and b) vaccines confer lifelong immunity (they don’t).

    • Max C

      It assumes nothing of the sort. Google “herd immunity”.

      • ChrisTavareIsMyIdol

        * sigh * I don’t need to Google it.

        The woman had a damaged immune system, even if she had measles shots she could quite easily have died of flu, tb, measles or a dozen other things. And even with herd immunity and the entire population covered you’ve still got 10-30% of the population who are not immune (depending on the disease). You’ve also got people coming from other countries who aren’t immune, and they can come into contact with people with weak immune systems.

        Then you have to consider how long immunity lasts, for some vaccinations it’s a year for others it’s “for life” . For measles they say 20 years.

        Finally you have to consider people like myself who are old enough never to have the opportunity to have the MMR but are immune because we caught the diseases (on several occasions). No doubt you’d like to see us rounded up and jabbed just so you can tick your little box and feel safer, even though you are deluding yourself through the myth of herd immunity.

        No herd is ever immune until the disease is eradicated

        • JB

          Woman dies from complications of measles but does not die of measles?

          In other news, a woman died from complications of a car accident in which her major arteries were pierced however she did not die of the car accident.

          You caught the diseases on several occasions? And here I was thinking natural immunity was so much better and more effective than vaccines. These dieseases can have serious consquences.

          If you think herd immunity is a myth then you are the one who is deluded.