We can't talk about the measles outbreak in Michigan without discussing the anti-wax movement.
And we cannot discuss the anti-wax movement without examining the special premise that the measles vaccine is as a whole more dangerous than measles in itself.
At this time, 39 people have been diagnosed with measles in Michigan, the highest number since 1991.
Three dozen cases may not seem to be much for a disease that is so ubiquitous that the public – health officials assume that everyone born before 1
For most Americans of that generation, measles was a miserable experience – high fever, red eye, ear infections, and narrative rash – but certainly not life -reatment.
But there is a reason why a measles vaccine was met with such tension in 1963, especially among doctors. Measles can have serious complications, including pneumonia, encephalitis and hearing loss.
People can die. Before the vaccine became widespread, measles killed an estimated 2.6 million people a year worldwide. Most of the victims were children.
About 100,000 people still die each year from measles. It's not just in the Third World. Measle's death has recently happened in Israel, Italy, France. German health officials say a quarter of their reported measles patients end up in the hospital.
These are preventive diseases, preventable deaths. The vaccine works. Measles can interfere with smallpox – total extinction – if enough people are immunized.
Enter the anti-wax movement, which sees the vaccine as its own health hazard.
Hundreds of Michigan schools and childcare programs are exposed to an outbreak of measles due to the number of unvaccinated children according to public health data.
Nearly 400 public and private K-12 schools and 295 day care programs had 10% or more of their students filed a vaccine call in 2017, state records show. More than 1,000 K-12 schools and 800-day concerns have more than 5% vaccine withdrawal, which is about a quarter of all K-12 schools and 22 percent of day care. Experts say you need a 95% vaccination rate to keep measles out.
2017 vaccination rates for Michigan public and private schools
This online database shows the 2017 vaccination withdrawal at school building. The figures here are for kindergartens, seventh graders and transferring students. Warning: The number of children asked to submit records or a drop-out is typically a relatively small fraction of the school population.
2017 vaccination rates for Michigan childcare programs
This database shows 2017 vaccination rates for more than 3,700 childcare programs in Michigan. The law requires these facilities to receive vaccination records or a waiver from children who recently enrolled in their program.
Quality of Sources
When I first started reporting on vaccines and the anti-wax movement in 2014, I started researching both sides of the problem.
Quickly I found myself in the rabbit hole of infinite arguments and counter-arguments.
To cut the hunt, I changed my focus from the amount of information to the quality of the sources.
Who are the top experts on each page? What do peer-reviewed published studies say? Where are Medical and Scientific Organizations?
Thus, the fog was lifted.
What I found: The global medical and scientific community is predominantly on the side of vaccinations. Over the past five years, I have not yet taken place in a single, important regular medical organization anywhere in the world that supports the anti-wax movement.
Anti-waxers will tell it because Big Pharma has bought the US medical and scientific business.
But that does not explain the global support for vaccinations – in countries where Big Pharma has no influence, in socialized systems where the excess motive is a non-factor.  Consensus on vaccinations is particularly striking when considering all the many, many, many ongoing debates in the medical community. The value of cardiovascular centers, back surgery, opioids, to name a few. Timing and frequency of mammograms and PSA testing. Last week, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association announced that they no longer recommend a daily aspirin to reduce the risk of heart attack.
And that's just the differences in the US. Globally, there are even more clashes on best practices.
But the importance of vaccinations unites medical companies around the world, experts from different nations with different medical perspectives and traditions.
This card, which shows the 2017 childhood vaccine withdrawal at a county level, combines the figures for K-12 school and childcare programs. You can click on a county to view the underlying data
Like all medical interventions, vaccines are neither stupid nor risk-free. There are cases of serious side effects on vaccines. Some people who are fully vaccinated can still get the disease.
Moreover, there is no doubt that vaccine effectiveness and safety are important issues worthy of more research and study. A legitimate debate can be found on which vaccines should be mandatory and which surpass a cost-benefit analysis.
However, after decades of widespread immunization, there are overwhelming signs that the benefits of vaccines far outweigh the disadvantages.
Let's look specifically at measles.
In the early 1960s, the United States averaged 400,000 to 500,000 reported measles cases per year. In 1968, the number is less than 25,000. Today, thanks to the vaccination, a once common disease is almost eliminated in America.
Meanwhile, most American children have received MMR the vaccine to prevent measles, hides and rubella, and studies show that serious side effects are very, very rare. How rare? From 2006 to 2017, more than 101 million doses of the MMR vaccine were administered in the United States. During that time, the National Vaccination Injury Prevention Program paid 120 settlements of serious injuries involving MMR – a resolution of every 850,000 doses.
To put the latter statistics into context: About one in 1,000 measles-requiring patients die and that does not include those experiencing complications such as hearing loss or permanent brain injury. It also does not include deaths and complications related to kiss and rubella.
And realizing without a vaccine, almost everyone would catch measles at some point; It is an airborne virus and one of the most contagious diseases on the planet.
It is no exaggeration to say just the measles part of the MMR vaccine has saved tens of thousands of lives globally – and thousands in the United States – over the last 40 years. It is very difficult to argue that the risks associated with MMR outweigh it.
There is a huge irony at work here. Unvaccinated Americans do not believe in seeing measles as a threat because they live under the protection of crew immunity. To get measles, you must be exposed to the virus. When you live in a community where the vast majority have been vaccinated, the risk of exposure decreases significantly.
But the more anti-exchangers convince others not to vaccinate, the more the immunity is, and the measles resurrect. We see it in Europe, Israel and Japan. IN USA. In Michigan.
What happens in Michigan is not the cause of panic. But that is cause for concern. We really do not want to return to the days when measles ran violently.
What we can do is push harder for global vaccination. The faster it happens, the faster the measles will be eliminated and the concerns about the disease – and the MMR – will be powerful.
Julie Mack is the reporter for MLives Public Impact team. She is a 1981 graduate of Michigan State University, a journalist for four decades and has been based in Kalamazoo since 1990.