In their eagerness to disprove the necessity of vaccination as an aid to public health, the writers of Natural News seem to have gone from misunderstanding and misinterpreting statistics to plain old making stuff up.
D. Holt has this to say:
Despite the introduction of the vaccine in 1968, the official policy in the UK until 1988 was that if a member of the household had measles, then they should play with and infect as many people as possible to spread immunity. This practice was carried out without any increase in death rates.
Holt provides no evidence to back up this assertion and indeed none shows up by googling. Hardly surprising as it is not actually true. Speaking as someone who caught measles in the 1963 epidemic, I can assure you that the policy appeared to be to keep the sufferer isolated. Not that it needed enforcing. Contrary to the antivaxxer claim that measles is a trivial illness, let me assure you that it is quite serious – all over body rash and eyes so sensitive to light that you need to stay in a darkened room. I was lucky, my eyesight was not permanently damaged; my cousin was not so fortunate.
I think it worth pointing out that the only way infecting others spreads immunity is that those who recover from the illness now have the antibodies so are now immune. So the antivaxxers reckon the way to prevent you catching a disease is to make you catch the disease. Hmmm. I think I see a flaw there.
Since the subject was raised I wondered what the infection rates and death rates for measles actually were. I found this which covers England and Wales rather than the whole of the UK but since that is still 90% of the UK population I thought it would be reasonably informative.
Decade Cases Deaths
1940-48………… 3,040,751………. 5380
1949-58………… 4,200,352………. 1618
1959-68………… 4,097,782………. 865
1969-78………… 1,488,892………. 261
Interesting points to note:
1. Although the number of cases rise in the decade after 1948, and remain roughly the same for the one following, the number of deaths fell by 70% and then a further 47% of the reduced number.
In 1948 the National Health Service and other aspects of the Welfare State were brought into being – those were the days when Governments, even Tory ones, considered that they hads obligations to the people.
2. In the period cited by Holt, there was a huge decline in the number of cases and the number of deaths. The single vaccine, though not perfect, clearly had an effect.
3. After 1988, cases and deaths both fell by a further 87%. What happenned in 1988? Oh yes, the MMR vaccine was introduced.
4. Despite the work of the infamous Andrew Wakefield and his cheerleaders in the Daily Mail and elsewhere, cases and deaths continued to decline, though the year on year figures suggest the number of cases are starting to rise.
It would appear that the way to eradicate measles is by creating a society where medical treatment is free at the point of need, where people are not being financially squeezed dry and we have vaccination – preferably with MMR. We still have MMR and the tabloid press are now pretending they were never against it but the Tory-Lib Dem Coalition is in the process of destroying what is left of the welfare state and the National Health Service. I suspect that this will lead to a rise in the incidence of measles and other infectious diseases, which the antivaxxers will no doubt sieze on as “proof” that vaccines do not work.