Sunday, June 9, 2013

Insolent demands and reality

There is a measles outbreak in Wales. 1181 cases of measles have been reported since 1 November 2012. Quite impressive for a small country (Wales has about 3 million inhabitants). Public Health Wales have done a stellar job in reporting numbers, breaking them down into the different Welsh regions and they run a Facebook page on which you can ask questions and will get them answered. Countless weekend and in-school clinics were run to get the Welsh youth protected (a lot of teens did not get their MMRs/or MMR booster in the wake of Wakefield's manufactuversy).

Despite PHW's fabulous work, the pro-disease faction have been up in arms. First of all, they abused the fact that not all cases were laboratory confirmed to claim that there is no outbreak, it is fabricated, all to cause panic to increase vaccine uptake (like good vaccination uptake was a bad thing). Never mind that laboratory confirmed cases are catching up with the reported numbers (like they should, those tests take some time to come back); that is part of the conspiracy, too (lowers voice "they noticed that numbers don't match, so they are making new numbers up" - really).

Equally suspicious, according to the anti-vaccine-critical, is that the vaccination status of reported cases is not reported in real time. PHW quite clearly stated on their web site that they'll publish a full report after the outbreak:

and explained on their Facebook page (multiple times) which cases were tested:

many anti-vaccine posters still insist that the delayed publication of numbers was fishy (after all, GPs should know whether their patient has been vaccinated or not) and continually allege that real time reporting was somehow important for their decision.

I call bullshit - there is nothing unique about the Wales outbreak. Last year, just north east of Wales, the Merseyside measles outbreak saw 359 confirmed measles cases, of which, not surprisingly, only 12 (3.3%) had received 2 MMRs. Those hugely relevant numbers (the two outbreaks within a year and 150 miles of each other) are convincing truly hesitant parents:

Meanwhile, I received the following letter from my Health Board:

It seems that although we have been registered with the same GP for many years, and said GP should have all of our children's vaccination records, and I have in writing that they are up to date, their Child Health System has our son down as "not [having] completed the full course of 2 doses of MMR". Obviously, ascertaining vaccine coverage is not quite as trivial as some think.

Thank you PHW for checking before publishing data on vaccine coverage without verification.

Now if you or your child really have not had 2 MMRs - go get them now. MMR is highly effective in protecting you and your loved ones from measles.


  1. Those crank bloggers never *get it right*, do they? When it is pointed out to them that their posts are inaccurate...or downright fabricated...they never post an update or a retraction.

    Thanks for the update on the number of laboratory confirmed measles cases in Wales, Catherina.

  2. I completely agree with what you say, and of course all my children are up to date with all vaccinations. But I think you err in saying "if you or your child" have not had 2 MMRs you can get them. I do not believe that adults of my generation (over 50) CAN have MMR. NHS Choices is not clear about it.

  3. Rachel, anyone of any age (over 6 months old) can get the MMR. The caveat for post-puberty age women is that there is a high (depending on source up to 40%) likelihood of transient joint pain. I had my measles titers tested before moving to the UK - never had the MMR, but single measles vaccine plus exposure to my cousin who had measles and I am immune. Otherwise, I would have gotten the MMR at that point (in my early 40ies). Interesting about the vagueness of the NHS choices page ( not exactly helpful for someone born pre 1970. Do they assume that those older than 40odd should be immune through disease? Will ask NHS and post...

  4. I have just started reading your blog and it's kind of sad how refreshing I find it to see someone being logical about vaccines.
    I somehow missed my second MMR. For years I was raving about anti-vaxers never knowing I wasn't immunized myself. I might have never known if I didn't start working at a hospital that required titres and discovered I wasn't immune to measles, rubella, and varicella. I never got chicken pox and when I was vaccinated it was only one shot- they changed it to two later and my GP did not inform me.
    Long story short, it's not a bad idea to get titre testing done to ensure immunity even if you [think you] have had both vaccines. 12 out of 356 is still a rather high failure rate and I wonder how many really needed a boosters.

  5. He! I just got the second friendly letter, this time with drop in clinics in the area - it is heartening to see the investment in the catch up campaign. DS will still not get a third MMR ;)

  6. Yep, get your boosters everybody, better to have 5 more MMRs than to feel threatened by the epidemic!

    1. Thank you, but two is sufficient. What we need is to assure community immunity.

      And, the epidemic was real, with several hospitalizations and now one confirmed death from measles. So do you have an actual point?

    2. actually, 2x MMR is quite enough, Dora, and much preferable to measles (or mumps, or rubella).