The BBC has reported that “there were 1,217 cases of measles from January to November 2008, the highest figure for over a decade.” Report. The HPA press release is here and includes the following quotes (my bold):
We are still seeing a continued increase in measles cases across England and Wales. This rise is due to relatively low MMR vaccine uptake over the past decade and there are now a large number of children who are not fully protected with MMR. This means that measles, which is highly infectious, is spreading easily among these unvaccinated children
Although MMR coverage is starting to improve, we cannot stress enough that measles is serious and in some cases it can be fatal. Delaying immunisation puts children at risk
…we shouldn’t forget that the children who weren’t vaccinated many years ago are at real risk. Measles is a very serious infection as it can lead to pneumonia and encephalitis, even in healthy children. It is highly infectious and can be passed on without direct contact before the rash appears.
“This is why it’s incredibly important to continue to remind parents about the benefits of having their children vaccinated with two doses of MMR for optimum protection. It is never too late to get vaccinated.”
This is exactly why the mainstream media, the anti-vaccinationists (for example pressure groups such as JABS), and Andrew Wakefield have been accused of posing a danger to public health. Scaremongering about a vaccine that prevents serious diseases such as measles is incredibly irresponsible. The media’s MMR hoax is surely at least partly responsible for bringing the vaccine uptake down. This decrease in vaccine uptake has led to measles spreading among unvaccinated children and has brought about the serious consequences that can result from measles infection. This is exactly what responsible scientists were warning everyone would happen if vaccine uptake went down in response to the unwarranted fear that the MMR vaccine causes autism. Did the anti-vaccinationists listen? The mainstream media? Panicky parents? Nope. Panicky parents preferred the mainstream media’s narrative: MMR causes autism. They were also reassured by anti-vaccinationists that measles complications only appear in malnourished children in the third world. The anti-vaccinationists didn’t listen because they had [have] an almost religious belief that vaccines are bad for us. Evidence will not shake their faith because they somehow know the truth. I don’t know why the mainstream media didn’t listen. Possibly because being able to weave a story around a maverick scientist up against the establishment, involving speculation about Baby Leo’s vaccination status, and promoting the opinions of non-experts over those of experienced scientists, doctors and public health officials was too good an opportunity to miss. Possibly because they are simply morons.
More from the HPA on measles: here. The “MMR The facts” website has an informative pdf here. It covers the symptoms and complications of measles, mumps, and rubella and (on page 2) has graphs showing the incidence of these diseases both before and after the introduction of vaccines against them. The BBC report includes a graph showing yearly measles cases from 1996 to November 2008, which is worth taking a look at.