Home > In the News, Preventable Diseases, Science & Research, Vaccine Myths > News of a Texas Measles Outbreak Shows Problems and Promise

News of a Texas Measles Outbreak Shows Problems and Promise

It’s never good news when we hear of people in this country suffering from vaccine preventable diseases like measles.  Especially since endemic measles was declared eliminated from the U.S. in 2000.  But what is promising is that the mainstream media coverage of the recent measles outbreak in Texas has clearly come out on the side of science.

TXchurchEarlier this month a measles outbreak occurred when an unvaccinated individual, who contracted measles while traveling overseas, returned to the U.S and attended church services at the Eagle Mountain International Church in Newark, Texas.  This person unknowingly exposed thousands of others to the disease, including infants in the church’s daycare facility that were too young to have been vaccinated, and who must rely on the protection of those around them.

The Texas outbreak was one of many throughout the country in the past few months.  There were plenty of other measles outbreakspertussis outbreaks and even chickenpox outbreaks that hardly garnered any attention.  And if the pastors of this church hadn’t been actively promoting prayer as a substitute for vaccination, this story of a Texas measles outbreak may have never had the appeal of mainstream media.

TerriPearsonsHowever, it was reported that senior pastor, Terri Copeland Pearsons, voiced her concerns about vaccinations on the church’s website,

“Some people think I am against immunizations, but that is not true. …The concerns we have had are primarily with very young children who have a family history of autism and with bundling too many immunizations at one time.”

Not only does her statement contradict the scientific evidence that has shown multiple vaccinations and combination immunizations to be safe, but numerous studies have also completely debunked her accusation that vaccines are tied to autism.

Unfortunately, she wasn’t the only spiritual leader within the church who was heard peddling inaccurate science.  Her father,  televangelist Kenneth Copeland, was heard in video clips on CNN and various other news outlets, making erroneous claims about the safety of vaccines. During an August 2010 broadcast, Copeland expressed shock at the number of vaccinations recommended for his great-grandchild.

KennethCopeland“I got to looking into that and some of it is criminal. … You don’t take the word of the guy that’s trying to give the shot about what’s good and what isn’t. You better go read the can or read the thing — find out what’s going on there and get the information on there because I’m telling you, it’s very dangerous the things that are happening around us all the time.”

Even after the outbreak was discovered, Pastor Pearsons is heard delivering a rather mixed message while addressing the congregation in this video.  At first she first appears to be advising people to get vaccinated and to do so “in faith”, but then immediately contradicts herself by saying,

“Now if you’re somebody and you know, that you know, that you know that you’ve got this covered in your household by faith, and it crosses your heart of faith, well then don’t go do it.”

As news stories continued to circulate in response to the outbreak, a former parishioner, Amy Arden came forward to elaborate on the church’s position:

 “There was a belief permeating throughout the church that there is only faith and fear,” Arden said. “If you were afraid of the illness enough to get vaccinated, it showed a lack of faith that God would protect and heal you.”

She went on to explain that a supervisor at the church’s nursery showed her how to opt out of a Texas law that requires most children to be immunized, and how she now regrets passing that lesson on to other parents. She even explained,

“I didn’t know a single mother who was vaccinating her children.”

While people have the right to forego vaccinations, most news outlets covering this story suggested that encouraging others to skip vaccinations can be dangerous and irresponsible.   This is actually the promising part.

In the past, the media has sometimes sensationalized the vaccine conversation by pitting it as a “debate” between those who vaccinate and those who don’t.  However, with every news report highlighting the benefit and safety of vaccines in relation to this outbreak, we witnessing a victory for science. The media wasn’t just reporting about a measles outbreak, but they were focusing on the concern that church leaders were persuading people not to vaccinate and doing so without any scientific evidence to support their claims.

We must realize that although the measles vaccine is one of the most highly effective vaccines we have, this is a disease that is extremely contagious.  Studies show that 95 of every 100 children develop measles immunity after one MMR vaccine, and 99 of 100 children confer immunity after two shots recommended at ages 12-15 months and 4-6 years of age. But the virus can also remain active and contagious on infected surfaces for up to 2 hours, and therefore 90% of people who are not immune will become infected if they encounter the disease.   This is important to keep in mind, because we’ve been here before.

ecbt_logo_color (72dpi)One of the most prominent immunization advocacy organizations in this country, Every Child By Two (ECBT), was founded in 1991 by Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter and Former First Lady of Arkansas Betty Bumpers in response to a measles epidemic that killed over 120 people, many of them children.  By continuing to support strong immunization policies in this country, ECBT’s efforts over the years have been critical to reducing the spread of vaccine preventable diseases.  But we mustn’t be complacent.  Outbreaks like the one in Texas and many other states remind us of this.

You can stay informed on important immunization issues by signing up to receive information direct from Every Child By Two’s Vaccinate Your Baby campaign.  By working together, we can do our part to ensure that children remain protected from dangerous, yet preventable, diseases.

  1. September 4, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    Hi – what was the number of people who were included in the outbreak numbers? I saw that thousands were exposed, but how many cases of actual measles were reported, do you know? Also, I have been reading a ton and can’t find any information that shows clinical trials for batches of vaccines – not just one vaccine, for example, but the batch doses like DTP and MMR, etc. I’ve gotten information and links here before so was hoping someone could send me some links for this, as well. Thanks!

    Like

  2. September 4, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    Ignore the first question above 🙂 I clicked on the article link and it gave me the number!

    Like

  3. September 4, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    MfMM – I find this link to have plenty of information regarding DTaP & MMR Safety information:

    http://www2.aap.org/immunization/families/faq/vaccinestudies.pdf

    Like

  4. Karen
    September 5, 2013 at 11:58 am

    This story broke several weeks ago, meaning that the first people who got measles in this outbreak have had time to recover. How many of them have died or been permanently damaged by the measles? It’s not often a dangerous disease, I know that.

    Like

  5. September 5, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    Karen: “It’s not often a dangerous disease, I know that.”

    Really? You have a level of acceptable level of death and disability that marks “danger”? One of those who got measles was only four months old, which gives that child a higher chance of dying from SSPE in a few years.

    During the measles outbreak in Wales recently about one in ten ended up in the hospital. If it is not a dangerous disease, then why did so many need hospital care? One reason is that measles causes pneumonia in most who get it, and is the often the reason for death. To keep someone alive with pneumonia requires very expensive ventilator supports.

    You do seem to be very free and easy with the health of others, and the cost to others for hospital care. Perhaps you should write to the author of The Clinical Significance of Measles: A Review, and explain how he wrong he is about the severity of the disease. Then write to the author of Pediatric hospital admissions for measles. Lessons from the 1990 epidemic. to explain how California shouldn’t sweat over those hospital costs paid by health insurance for low income citizen, because they are a minor expense. Do also send a letter to Ophelia Dahl, who works for Partners in Health on bringing health care to Haiti, that her sister’s death was not a big deal.

    By the way, before the first measles vaccines in the early 1960s, between 400 to 600 Americans died from measles. Is that an acceptable loss of life for measles? Should we just stop vaccinating because you think that several hundred deaths and a few thousand becoming permanently disabled is okay dokay?

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  6. Karen
    September 5, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    So how many of the hundreds who got measles in the present outbreak have died or been permanently damaged? How many are now well and back at school or work?
    Recovering from natural measles is good for longterm health, and makes a better immune system. The MMR causes a lot of autism and bowel disease and so on. So it’s back to a judgment call. If you believe that measles is more dangerous than the risks from the MMR, you will take the vaccine and take your chances with permanent vaccine damage. If you believe that the vaccine is more dangerous, you will refuse the vaccine and maybe get measles. Most of the time that would work out for the best. So we need to start paying attention to reality, to get info for making decisions. How many in the present outbreak have died or been permanently damaged by measles?

    Like

  7. Gray Falcon
    September 5, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    Karen, please read what Chris has said. Do not comment again until you do so and understand.

    Like

  8. September 5, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    @Karen – cognative-dissonance much?

    How do you reconcile a 1 in 100 chance of a serious side effect from measles (including secondary infections, SSPE, blindness, etc) with the 1 in 1mil (or less) chance of a severe vaccine reaction?

    As for the current outbreak, we can absolutely, 100% prove, that any serious side-effects were from the measles….what do you have as evidence that vaccines are related to either autism or bowel disease?

    Like

  9. Karen
    September 5, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    400-600 died of measles out of a million getting it. It would be interesting to see how many it would be now with knowledge of vitamin A treatment. if you don’t accept that children losing language and developing autism and bowel disease within days of the MMR shows that the MMR caused it, then why would it be certain that any problems arising after natural measles were caused by it?

    Like

  10. Karen
    September 5, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    Chances of SSPE are maybe one in ten thousand after either the measles or the measles vaccine. Blindness definitely does not occur in one in a hundred cases. Measles pneumonia is usually either mild and self-limiting or is bacterial and can be treated with antibiotics. Measles encephalitis is one in ten thousand, causing death in a third and disability in a third. The vaccine can also cause encephalitis.

    Like

  11. dingo199
    September 5, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    Karen :
    So how many of the hundreds who got measles in the present outbreak have died or been permanently damaged?

    I could ask, how many of those who receive MMR vaccine (or HPV vaccine for that matter) have died [and proved to have died from the vaccine]
    The last major outbreak in a Western country was in Wales, UK this year. 1400 cases and one death from measles. That accords with the one in 1-2000 death rate from measles.

    Karen :
    Recovering from natural measles is good for longterm health, and makes a better immune system.

    Well, recovery from measles can be of very limited and modest benefit, but aren’t the risks entailed for such a small gain quite disproportionate? I did hear that rubbing snake venom on one’s unbroken skin was good for the complexion. But I wouldn’t go into a pit of spitting cobras just to derive that dubious benefit.

    Karen :
    The MMR causes a lot of autism and bowel disease and so on. So it’s back to a judgment call. If you believe that measles is more dangerous than the risks from the MMR, you will take the vaccine and take your chances with permanent vaccine damage. If you believe that the vaccine is more dangerous, you will refuse the vaccine and maybe get measles. Most of the time that would work out for the best. So we need to start paying attention to reality, to get info for making decisions. How many in the present outbreak have died or been permanently damaged by measles?

    If you think MMR causes autism and bowel disease, you’ll have to come up with some decent evidence. Dozens of peer-reviewed, valid independent scientific studies have found no link, but the only “research” to suggest a link is fraudulent, weak or comes from pitifully flawed studies.

    You are right of course, it is a question of risk versus benefit.
    Measles risks:
    1 in 1-2000 deaths
    1 in 1000 encephalitis
    1 in 5 sick enough to need hospitalisation
    1 in 10 pneumonia
    1 in 10 otitis media

    Mumps risks:
    1 in 10 meningitis
    1 in about 1000 ITP, pancreatitis, orchitis, oophoritis etc

    Rubella risks:
    1 in 100 disabling arthritis
    Pregnancy – 1 in 3 fetal death or irreversible brain damage

    MMR risks:
    1 in 1 million anaphylaxis
    1 in 1 million encephalitis.
    1 in 2500 ITP

    Seems a simple equation to me.

    Like

  12. dingo199
    September 5, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    Karen :
    400-600 died of measles out of a million getting it. It would be interesting to see how many it would be now with knowledge of vitamin A treatment.

    How about vaccinating the million, and then NONE will get it. Why are you antivax people so obsessed with the idea of letting people get seriously ill from diseases that are totally preventable by vaccination? Are you a BigPharma shill or something?

    Like

  13. dingo199
    September 5, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    Karen :
    Chances of SSPE are maybe one in ten thousand after either the measles or the measles vaccine. Blindness definitely does not occur in one in a hundred cases. Measles pneumonia is usually either mild and self-limiting or is bacterial and can be treated with antibiotics. Measles encephalitis is one in ten thousand, causing death in a third and disability in a third. The vaccine can also cause encephalitis.

    Measles pneumonia kills Karen.
    SSPE does not occur after MMR vaccination.
    MMR encephalitis affects one in around a million vaccinees. Yet measles encephalitis affects one in a thousand with the natural disease.
    Why do you want little children to suffer disabling neurological conditions?

    Like

  14. dingo199
    September 5, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    PS: Measles pneumonia can be due to secondary bacterial infection (and may respond to antibiotics, or maybe not), but the main problem is a direct viral giant cell pneumonia, which is untreatable. It is what the young man in Wales died from this year.

    Like

  15. September 5, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    @Karen – so, you believe that the “hypothetical risk” unsupported by the available evidence and Scientific Literature is greater than the very real risk of a disease that still kills upwards of 150,000 people worldwide, per year?

    What planet do you live on? Because it certainly isn’t this one.

    Like

  16. September 5, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    Karen:

    The MMR causes a lot of autism and bowel disease and so on. So it’s back to a judgment call.

    Citation needed. Post the PubMed indexed study by a qualified reputable researcher that the MMR vaccine causes more injury than measles. And by “qualified” I mean someone who has a proper education, so no lawyers, computer scientists, journalists or business majors. And for “reputable”, no one whose medical credentials have been legally revoked.

    And how in reality is something that causes so much pneumonia that puts one in ten in the hospital a “mild disease”?

    Chances of SSPE are maybe one in ten thousand after either the measles or the measles vaccine

    Sorry, not from the vaccine. The vaccine prevents SSPE:

    Int J Epidemiol. 2007 Dec;36(6):1334-48.
    Review of the effect of measles vaccination on the epidemiology of SSPE.

    J Infect Dis. 2005 Nov 15;192(10):1686-93.
    Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis: more cases of this fatal disease are prevented by measles immunization than was previously recognized.

    Karen, you really are very cruel person who hates children to think they should suffer from measles, and actually believes it is okay dokay for hundreds to die each as a result.

    Also, Karen, citations needed for both comments #9 and #10. Do tell us why your numbers vary so wildly from this review. And why the folks who wrote Acute measles mortality in the United States, 1987-2002 have such different numbers:

    We estimated that 259 measles deaths actually occurred; the reporting efficiencies were 64% for the NCHS and 71% for the NIP. Overall the death-to-case ratio was 2.54 and 2.83 deaths/1000 reported cases, using the NCHS and NIP data, respectively. Pneumonia was a complication among 67% of measles-related deaths in the NCHS data and 86% of deaths in the NIP data. Encephalitis was reported in 11% of deaths in both databases.

    Like

  17. Utpal Patel
    September 5, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    Chris… so much irony.

    “Really? You have a level of acceptable level of death and disability that marks “danger”?”

    and

    “You do seem to be very free and easy with the health of others, and the cost to others for hospital care.”

    Like

  18. Lawrence
    September 5, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    @uptal – not irony, reality.

    The real cost of disease vs. hypothetical / fictional vaccine reaction stories.

    Like

  19. September 5, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    Utpal Patel, your response implies that the MMR vaccine causes more injury than measles. Please post a proper scientific citation to prove that contention. Thank you.

    Like

  20. September 5, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    @Chris – based on your numbers, the cost of the outbreak is substantial, I believe there was a study done that showed how much hospital and associated medical costs were for measles outbreaks, correct?

    Like

  21. Utpal Patel
    September 5, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    Chris, I think it is ironic that you accuse Karen of these things when the same can be said about you regarding vaccine injuries. Obviously, you both care for people, but the accusations you make are ironic.

    Like

  22. Utpal Patel
    September 5, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    Please don’t get me started on the MMR vaccine. It’s a nasty one for sure. Enough said.

    Like

  23. Utpal Patel
    September 5, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    Lawrence, you really need to stop lying. There are many vaccine injuries. You have absolutely no credibility when you make these condescending statements and people know it.

    “hypothetical / fictional vaccine reaction stories.”

    Like

  24. Gray Falcon
    September 5, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    Utpal Patel :
    Chris, I think it is ironic that you accuse Karen of these things when the same can be said about you regarding vaccine injuries. Obviously, you both care for people, but the accusations you make are ironic.

    You’re willing to kill a hundred so that one won’t suffer a minor injury. You’re not in a position to talk.

    Utpal Patel :
    Please don’t get me started on the MMR vaccine. It’s a nasty one for sure. Enough said.

    Then you should have no problem providing the evidence for your claims. The VAERS entries are not enough, you have to have read the disclaimer to read the entries..

    Like

  25. September 5, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    @Utpal – as I try to figure out who’s sock puppet you are…..we know, in concrete and real terms, exactly how much is spent when people are treated for Vaccine Preventable Diseases, plus the very readily apparent and real side-effects that they suffer from those diseases…we’ve already proven that the “stories” you rely upon for evidence are either patently false, misleading or misinterpreted…..

    So, do you have any real evidence or do you plan on just throwing videos at us again?

    Like

  26. September 5, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    Utpal Patel:

    Please don’t get me started on the MMR vaccine. It’s a nasty one for sure. Enough said.

    No, not “enough said.” You need to explain very carefully with actual evidence what harm comes from the MMR vaccine that exceeds that of measles. I have posted several citations on the harm from measles, now you must do the same for the MMR vaccine.

    And here is something else, some of it must be over twenty years old. The MMR vaccine with the Jeryl Lynn mumps strain was introduced in the USA in 1971. It was the preferred vaccine for the 1978 Measles Elimination Program. Now, if your claim is that the MMR vaccine causes autism, then it would have shown up at least ten years before 1988, when the UK introduced its MMR vaccines. The USA is a much larger than the UK, and had been using an MMR vaccine for about twenty years before Wakefield came on to the scene. So it would be surprising that an increase in autism would not have been noticed, if it was really connected.

    So what you need to do is provide real verifiable evidence dated before 1990that autism in the USA increased substantially due to the MMR vaccine. That way you can both prove you have a point, and show that Wakefield had something to base his hypothesis on for his now retracted paper. Something other than a wad of UK taxpayer paid-for Legal Aid Funds waved in his face by Richard Barr.

    Until then, I will post a few more citations:

    Historical Comparisons of Morbidity and Mortality for Vaccine-Preventable Diseases in the United States

    Benefits, Risks and Costs of Immunization for Measles, Mumps and Rubella

    Vaccine. 2012 Jun 13;30(28):4292-8. Epub 2012 Apr 20.
    The combined measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines and the total number of vaccines are not associated with development of autism spectrum disorder: The first case-control study in Asia.

    Vaccine. 2012 Jan 5;30(2):247-53.
    Lack of association between childhood immunizations and encephalitis in California, 1998-2008.

    Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2010 May;29(5):397-400.
    Lack of association between measles-mumps-rubella vaccination and autism in children: a case-control study.

    PLoS ONE 2008; 3(9): e3140 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003140
    Lack of Association between Measles Virus Vaccine and Autism with Enteropathy: A Case-Control Study.

    Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2005;159:1136-1144.
    Economic Evaluation of the 7-Vaccine Routine Childhood Immunization Schedule in the United States, 2001

    J Infect Dis. 2004 May 1;189 Suppl 1:S131-45.
    An economic analysis of the current universal 2-dose measles-mumps-rubella vaccination program in the United States.

    Like

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  1. September 19, 2013 at 10:54 am
  2. March 11, 2014 at 7:26 am

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