Lies, Vaccines and the New Zealand Media

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Another day, another poorly-written and ill-advised scare story in New Zealand’s fabulous ‘print media’. This time, a piece in the Dominion Post claiming measles ‘could have been eradicated by now if it were not for anti-vaccine campaigners and conspiracy theorists’. Nothing to do with faulty live-virus vaccines, is it?

According to the article, posted on Stuff.co.nz, the measles vaccine is safe, and the reason people are refusing it is because of a ‘study’ by Dr Andrew Wakefield that was ‘discredited’ and led to him being struck off the register by the GMC. That or because they listen to ‘conspiracy theorists’.

No mention, of course, that it wasn’t a study – it was a small case series – or that his co-author who was also struck off the register, Dr John Walker-Smith, was exonerated and the case overturned two years ago, following an appeal. The entire trial against the doctors was dismissed as faulty and the General Medical Council admonished for a trial that was full of ‘inadequate and superficial reasoning and, in a number of instances, a wrong conclusion’.

The Dominion Post piece states that we were struck off the charities register for promoting a view that vaccination was ‘ineffective and dangerous’ – again, this is not true. The reason for our removal from the register was that we were viewed as promoting a viewpoint rather than advancing education (one of the categories for being on the register). While we disagree with the basis of the decision, the reality is that it makes little difference to who we are and what we do – we are still a charitable organisation and still work hard to ensure parents have the information necessary to make an informed decision about vaccination.

Read the piece here: www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/9732648/Measles-myths-blamed-for-outbreaks

So, to the data.

The Ministry of Health tell us that New Zealand has a 93% uptake of vaccination by age two. This is worth remembering when reading the following paragraphs.

According to the article, there were 274 cases of pertussis (whooping cough) in Auckland in 2012, and a further 328 on the West Coast in the same year. In reality, according to the Public Health Surveillance Report for the year on pertussis, there were a total of 5,389 cases reported up until the 7th December 2012 for that year, the majority of which were in vaccinated persons. According to the report, 252 cases were reported in Auckland up until that date for the year, and the West Coast had just 139 cases. Of the over 5,000 cases reported for the year, there were just two deaths – one in a premature infant too young to be vaccinated, and one in a child with ‘underlying health conditions’.

The data is also available online for the year 2013, so why 2012 was highlighted in the article is something of a mystery…

On to measles. According to Helen Petousis-Harris of the Immunisation Advisory Centre, measles could be eradicated in New Zealand if it weren’t for us pesky ‘anti-immunisation’ groups. This statement is laughable for a number of reasons (not least that WAVESnz is not an ‘anti-immunisation’ group, but a group lobbying for informed choice and freedom of choice in health decisions).

Firstly, we have 93% uptake of vaccinations in this country by age two, which includes MMR at 15 months. Given the theoretical ‘herd immunity threshold’, or number of vaccinated persons needed to eliminate the disease amongst a population is generally accepted as being somewhere around 92-94%, it’s somewhat astonishing we’re still seeing these outbreaks, don’t you think?

Sounds to me that it’s less a case of rogue families making their own minds up about the health of their families, and more a case of a vaccine that simply does not work the way the media and government would have us believe.

Yes, those naughty parents who think for themselves and decide not to vaccinate make a very convenient scapegoat for a vaccine that simply does not work the way we’re told it does.

According to the 2012 report, the latest available, there were a total of 68 cases of measles reported for that year. Of those, 21 were in children aged under 15 months, which we will discount when assessing vaccination efficacy as they aren’t eligible for vaccination according to the New Zealand schedule (though one was reported to have had a single dose anyway!). That leaves us with 47 cases of measles in persons aged 15 months and over, 17 of whom had had at least one or two doses of a measles vaccine, with 20 reporting no vaccination and 10 with unknown vaccination status.

Surely, if the vaccine worked so well, we’d see the vast majority of those cases in unvaccinated people, rather than an almost 50/50 split? And while it could be argued that this does lean towards better odds being vaccinated than not given the higher population of vaccinated individuals, one has to question how exactly that works given the vaccine datasheet claims 95% efficacy against measles…

Despite the claims of the pro-vaccine lobbyists, vaccination does not guarantee you won’t get the virus in the first place, as those vaccinated individuals who contract the disease have discovered. Nor does not getting vaccinated guarantee you will get it – and if you do, the chances of it being a serious disease in a healthy individual replete with Vitamin A are extremely low.

It’s worth noting now that the vaccine contains live attenuated measles virus (as well as live rubella and mumps). The datasheet itself contains warnings about not vaccinating immune-compromised individuals due to risk of infection, notes that the rubella component can be ‘shed’ and spread by recently-vaccinated individuals, and while it states that there are ‘no reports’ of transmission of the measles component from recent vaccinees, it doesn’t mean that it can’t happen.

What it does mention, however, is that a common side-effect is fever or a ‘measles-like rash’ or both (which of course can’t be measles, it’s all a coincidence, it just looks like measles!). Very interesting… could it be that the vaccine itself is responsible for some of these outbreaks?

Next, to call organisations such as ourselves as ‘anti-immunisation’ is misleading to say the least – we have no problem with immunisation. In fact, it is something we actively encourage. Immunisation simply means to ‘make immune’, not ‘to vaccinate’, which often doesn’t lead to any significant ‘immunity’ at all. We actively advocate for and encourage long-term breastfeeding, good nutrition, healthy lifestyles, sleep, exercise, and generally supporting the body’s natural immune system so that we can all live happy, health lives. All of which can be classed as a form of ‘immunisation’ and protection against these diseases the media love to hype so very much.

Lastly, it’s worth pointing out the glaringly obvious part that the fear-and-blame piece has left out: what to do if your child DOES contract either measles or pertussis (the terror illnesses du jour), and how to prevent them becoming the terrible diseases they’d have us believe…

Dr Suzanne Humphries has written a fantastic piece on pertussis and how to treat it using Vitamin C, which can be found here: www.vaccinationcouncil.org/2012/09/07/vitamin-c-for-whooping-
cough-updated-edition-suzanne-humphries-md/

And it would be worth any interested party investigating the link between Vitamin A deficiency and severity of measles infection, as well as the use of Vitamin A in the treatment of measles. More info here: www.beyondconformity.co.nz/hilarys-desk/

So, what is really to blame for an uptick in measles cases lately? Is it, despite very high rates of vaccination that should be buoying us up with the mythical ‘herd immunity’ we hear so much about, the naughty few who choose to think for themselves and opt out of vaccination? Is it terrible organisations such as WAVESnz who promote freedom of choice in healthcare? Is it a nearly 16-year-old case series written by an English doctor who has been thrashed in every media outlet globally since that time, who most people haven’t even looked at and most believe is a fraud?

Or could it be a failing live-virus vaccine that simply does not work the way we’re told it does, which is causing illness throughout the community, and which parents are beginning to question despite the poorly-written anti-choice propaganda churned out by the corporate-owned media on a near daily basis?