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Vaccine: real culprit?



The biohazard symbol, a warning to follow protocol.

The vaccine debate now runs hot and heavy, in this web space, the media in general, and in politics. Now Senator Charles M. Schumer (D-N.Y.) wants the CDC to hand out measles vaccines, including MMR (the most common), to everyone. And he wants taxpayers to pay for it. Senator Schumer should expect better research from his staff. But what a doctor, who should know better, now recommends, tops this. He wants every adult in the country to get what for most would be a third MMR vaccine. Neither the Senator nor this doctor realizes what they might be doing: making the measles problem worse, not better.

Vaccine debate: the players

Senator Schumer needs no introduction. Neither do most who have jumped on a bandwagon, defending the vaccine concept and current vaccine practice as if it were “a basic health need,” like food. But the doctor recommending the third MMR shot does need an introduction.

Meet James D. Cherry, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Infectious Diseases, David Geffen School of Medicine (yes, that David Geffen, as in Dreamworks Spielberg, Katzenberg, and), University of California at Los Angeles. He has devoted most of his research to “vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases.” Now one can understand why he recommended something like that. To a hammer, all the world looks like a nail. To a doctor, everyone looks sick. And to a specialist in vaccine research, everyone could use a vaccine.

Now meet the lineup of opponents. Start with Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, and Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Then add Barbara Loe Fisher, founder and director of the National Vaccine Information Center. Why did she start the Center? Because her son suffered a “vaccine adverse event” and she found she could not sue for damages. She does not, by the way, recommend absolutely to stay away from all vaccines. She does want parents to know all the facts. Those include some facts the Doctor Cherrys of the world don’t want to tell, or even talk about. She sets forth her full mission on this page.

Briefly, she wants parents free to decide for themselves how to manage “childhood diseases,” with a vaccine or some other way. Current public health policy assumes taking a vaccine is safer than taking a chance on getting the usual disease. But as Barbara Fisher shows, policymakers assume this overwhelming relative safety without good reason.

To define our terms

One can take part in, or judge, the debate better after one defines certain terms:

  • Wild type or wild strain: the strain of any living thing one finds most often in the wild. For disease viruses, this means the most common strain one might come down with.
  • Antibody: a molecule the body makes to latch onto a virus, or other invader, to destroy it or make it easier for other cells of the body to destroy. Scientists know five classes of antibodies, which they call immunoglobulins: IgG (general), IgM (macro or “big”), IgA (alimentary, because the body makes these in the gut), IgD (“the fourth antibody,” a signal to antibody makers to make more), and IgE (“the fifth antibody”, the one figuring in allergies).
  • Vaccine: a sample of a disease virus that a doctor might suggest a patient take. The doctor hopes the patient’s body will react to it and thus prepare to react to an attack by the wild type. If the body reacts soon enough, the patient will not get sick.
  • Vaccine strain: the strain of a disease virus one puts into a vaccine. When they use this term, doctors usually mean they use a vaccine strain different from the wild type. One who makes a vaccine will always weaken (attenuate) a virus, or kill it with a preservative, usually formaldehyde. (No one makes a vaccine with a whole bacterium. They might make it with a part of a bacterium to which an antibody might latch on.)
  • Herd immunity: the blockage of a disease germ or virus when, even when not all the people have gotten the wild type or taken the vaccine, enough have so that one person cannot pass the infection on to someone else because he never meets anyone who can still catch it. That term exposes the mind-set of those who push vaccines on people. They talk about their fellow human beings as one talks about animals. “Herd,” indeed.

Barbara Fisher speaks out

Did vaccines really produce this result? Why can one no longer find the source?

Measles incidents in the United States, 1950-2001. Source: CDC

As everyone remembers, on or about January 13, 2015, several small children at Disneyland, Walt Disney’s original theme park in Anaheim, California, came down with rashes all over their bodies. Doctors diagnosed measles. Since then nearly every State in the Union has at least one case. The California site prompted many to remember that many California residents refuse to let their children take common childhood vaccines. California law allows parents to object on religious or philosophical grounds, and opt out. They don’t even need a doctor to sign a note to say they can’t take a vaccine safely. (Which some can’t.)

At once, politicians started screaming that California should change its law, and the government should, on pain of fine, imprisonment, or both, make children take a vaccine against measles. Lurid tales of the morbidity (just how sick can you get from it?) and mortality (what risk do you run of dying from it?) of measles abounded in the press. Nevertheless, Governor Christie and Senator said, without a second’s thought, the government still had to let parents choose. Within a day the press were demanding everything but that the New Jersey assembly impeach Christie, and the U.S. Senate expel Paul.

Enter Dr. Cherry. As the Associated Press reported, Cherry decried the notion that anyone would make a choice not to take a vaccine, or that any government would let them so choose. “Selfish!” he thundered.

Five days later, Fisher answered that charge. In a well-documented article with eighty-two references, Fisher told the world:

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The CDC have not eradicated measles from the United States. The year 2014 saw 644 cases nationwide. This although 95 percent of all children entering kindergarten had gotten their first MMR dose, and 92 percent of adolescents had gotten one or two shots.

Now what do public health workers say about herd immunity? Fisher quotes Dr. Cherry as saying it kicks in when 90 percent of the people can’t catch the disease for one reason or another. But: he assumes one who takes the vaccine, cannot catch the wild type. Evidently Dr. Cherry made a mistake.

Does any vaccine succeed? The influenza vaccine failed miserably this year, and has failed before. And in one year when the government couldn’t rush it out fast enough, civilization did not collapse. No undertakers came through the streets pushing meat wagons, ringing bells, and shouting, “Bring out your dead!” No businesses failed because their workers couldn’t get in to work. People protected themselves and others in other ways. They had to.

Everyone remembers taking a vaccine against whooping-cough (along with diphtheria and tetanus). That has failed, too. Most have taken it, but children get whooping-cough anyway.

Why should the measles vaccine have succeeded where others failed? Answer: it didn’t. Twelve percent of those who came down with the measles had taken the shot!

As if that did not alone destroy the case for the vaccine, this should: How do those authorities know those kids who came down with the measles, came down with the wild type? Fisher has references to make this coup de grâce claim: the vaccine strain could be causing those cases. That means one of two things:

  • The kids who got the measles, got it from the shot. Or, worse:
  • One of those shots gave a child a contagious vaccine strain!

A third shot?

Dr. Cherry has not talked to a single witness. Neither has his colleague, a Dr. Pan who introduced a bill in California in 2013 to keep children who didn’t take the shot, out of school. Now Dr. Pan seems to want to make all children take the shot, school or no school.

If the slightest risk exists that the shot itself could cause an outbreak, and could have caused the Disneyland outbreak, no one should trust any public-health authority proposing such a thing.

So when Hillary Rodham Clinton said, “Grandma knows best; vaccines work,” she, too, made a mistake. She and others like her accuse their opponents of ignorance.  But they ignore the evidence against them, or worse, try to suppress it. Who, then, really speaks of subjects they know nothing about? Or: who tells lies?

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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Couple things for potential followup:
1) which politicians were suggesting California change its law. Specifically which were asking for “pain of fine, imprisonment, or both” i.e. forced vaccinations. Usually they are just tied to mandates for certain high-risk voluntary privileges such as public schools.
2) “Within a day the press were demanding everything but that the New Jersey assembly impeach Christie, and the U.S. Senate expel Paul.” Which press and what were they specifically asking for if it was short of expelling/impeachment?

I would really like to know which ones have this extreme viewpoint. We can not hold people responsible if we are not told who. Perhaps these are in the videos, but I don’t have 25 minutes to spend watching them in an attempt clarify a 2 minute article.


This is the education you promised me, Terry? I’ve learned nothing that I didn’t know already, namely that you’re a crackpot who makes hand-waving dismissals of legitimate sources in favor of Ill-informed dolts spouting conspiracy theories.

I wonder if you’ll continue your disdain for science when you have the massive coronary that your extraordinary anger at a world that is not exactly what you demand it should be will lead to.


I assume now that you won’t (or less generously can’t) provide details on those vaccine extremists, so guess I’ll move on and just treat the article as if that paragraph was not there.

I do still have a couple quibbles:

“The CDC have not eradicated measles from the United States.”
It was declared eradicated from 2000 through 2004, meaning every documented case was found to have been imported by travel with other countries i.e. there was no locally sustained population of measles. Being eradicated in one area does not mean it can not be reintroduced in later years or that there are 0 cases during the eradicated years.

“Twelve percent of those who came down with the measles had taken the shot!”.
That observation answers the question ‘Given a person has the measles, what are the chances they had the vaccine?’. Not really a useful question. We more want to know ‘Given a person has/has-not had the vaccine, what are the odds they will contract the measles after exposure?’

The official numbers are:
1) a non-vaccinated person has about 90% chance of contracting after exposure
2) a vaccinated person has 95-97% chance of being protected i.e. a 3-5% chance of contracting after exposure.
3) 2014 US measles (voluntary) vaccine observance is approx 90%

We can actually use any two of those numbers along with the Disney info to check the third.
For example, if we assume vaccination rate given in #2, there were approximately 9 times the number of vaccinated people exposed as un-vaccinated people and yet there were 7 times more un-vaccinated people infected. So being vaccinated equates to being 75 times (when not rounding the 9 and 7) less likely to catch measles than being un-vaccinated, which places the vaccine effectiveness at 90+%.

The Disney case is a too small a sample to be statistically valid and the park may vary in vaccination rate from the US average, but for its size, it supports the claim that the vaccine is highly effective (but not 100%) at preventing one from contracting the measles.


Oops, my assumption was supposed to be #3 not #2. So assuming vaccination rate and non-vaccinated contraction rate as our givens, estimate the effectiveness of the vaccine to prevent contraction.


Terry, sorry I missed your response as it appeared above later responses.

I am still left without names of specific politicians or the context of their comments. Sorry, but I can not just take your word for their implication without being able to read what they said myself.
Not liking someone’s positions or disagreeing/criticizing with something they said does not equate to supporting the most extreme reactions of impeaching and banning them from office.

aside: The citations in the article (linked “Fisher answered that charge”) don’t work unless one clicks the javascript link at the top of the page. Confusing, why not add that javascript to all the citations so one does not think they are broken.


“At once, politicians started screaming that California should change its law, and the government should, on pain of fine, imprisonment, or both, make children take a vaccine against measles.”

Please link to something that backs this up. I did my best to read through your article, the nvic, citations on paragraphs that seemed relevant. Even after looking through all that, this would seem to be an unfounded speculative claim or extrapolation at best.

What I found:
– There are doctors suggesting a new recommendation of a voluntary third shot for adults (a reference to a mandate isn’t anywhere in citations 59-61).
– There are doctors and politicians suggesting California change the exemption policy for public school vaccination mandates to match other state’s existing laws; none of which have any such punishments or affect any sphere outside of public school attendance.

The closest I can find is an uncited comment by Fisher saying that she thinks adults are hard to “pin down” without threads of firing, imprisonment, or or loss of medical care.


The California measles cases of 2014-2015 tested so far are all of genotype B3, all genetic sequences tested were identical, and were identical to a B3 strain that caused an outbreak in the Philippines in 2014. See:

All measles vaccines belong to genotype A. There has never been a report of endemic spread of genotype A measles anywhere in the world that I know of; perhaps you have evidence to the contrary? MMR vaccine is not even contraindicated in close contacts of immunocompromised patients – that’s in contrast to oral polio vaccine, which should not be given to close contacts of the immunocompromised.

There was, on the other hand, a baby in Baltimore in January with fever and a measles rash with no history of contact with any California case. Genotyping on that child showed that the rash _was_ due to the MMR strain (the baby had been immunized ~20 days earlier). Do you have any data to support that the 6 already-immunized California patients who developed measles were similarly recently vaccinated, such that we should think that their measles was vaccine-caused as in the case of the Baltimore patient? Or any evidence of vaccine-type measles being spread endemically? Or, if your alternate hypothesis is that the vaccine was contaminated with a wild-type strain, evidence of a cluster of patients who received vaccine from the same lot all coming down with measles? Or, if you propose that a singe Patient Zero got a single bad dose of vaccine, contaminated with Philippine-type measles virus, how would you prove that rather than the null hypothesis that someone returned from/arrived from the Philippines having caught it there? Recall that the person/persons responsible for the initial outbreak at Disney have not been identified.


Update as of 2/13/15: 125 U.S. cases in the current outbreak; see

110 in California (39 known Disney contact, 34 secondary cases from those infected at Disney, 37 unknown source), 15 in other states (other states all with Disney exposure). In addition to U.S. cases, 1 in Mexico and 10 in Canada from Disney contact.

Of the 110 California cases so far: 49 known unvaccinated, 47 vaccine status unknown/no records, 5 with 1 dose of vaccine, 7 with 2 doses of vaccine, 1 with 3 doses of vaccine. Of 84 patients for whom hospitalization status is known, 20% were hospitalized.

30 patients have had their virus genotyped; all are of B3 genotype as mentioned above. No evidence for virus strain causing measles in Disney outbreak so far.


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