Measles Outbreak Traced to MegaChurch Full of Vaccination Opponents

It’s stuff like this that drives me crazy when people with keyboards suddenly grant themselves MDs. The people in my comboxes instructing a reader who is a pedes doctor on how he doesn’t know what he’s talking about strike me in much the same way as the atheists who has Read a Thing or Two from Leviticus and regard themselves as qualified to ridicule the entire Christian tradition.

"Coincidentally, the same day you posted this my mother posted on facebook a link to ..."

Not coincidentally….
"That happened to me for the first time last week too. Maybe they are having ..."

Christianist “Prolife” Pundit Kevin Williamson…
"From the recent exhortation of Pope Francis, Rejoice and be Glad:For Christians, “a person’s perfection ..."

Not coincidentally….
"...and now the system has flagged my reply as spam. I replied that it wasn't. ..."

Christianist “Prolife” Pundit Kevin Williamson…

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • HornOrSilk

    I thought about the “debate” on here when I heard about this outbreak. However, those who are anti-vaccine won’t be convinced by this. They will say the doctors/MSM are lying here.

    • Christopher Sarsfield

      I don’t understand your argument. Anti-vaccine people tend to think that children should get childhood diseases. Obviously, they do not believe that their children are immune from these diseases. The only thing that they might suggest is that some outbreaks are started by vaccinated individuals, where the vaccine did not work for whatever reason. Do you know of any anti-vaccine sites claiming MDs/MSM are lying in this case or are you just venting?

      • HornOrSilk

        The anti-vaccine crowd says all that people say vaccines does for the population is a lie. They constantly talk about lies when one reads their comments: “how can you trust them, they make money” is a big thing. Or “MSM lies” etc. It’s all over. You are just dishonest about the tactic.

        • Christopher Sarsfield

          Okay, you are just venting (I assume you are not really trying to read my soul with the false accusation of dishonesty, which is a sin). May Our Lady keep you forever in the blue shadow of her mantle.

          • HornOrSilk

            Oh it’s just venting, when I experience it all the time. Every time I talk to people promoting anti-vaccine ideology and show them the science, and the good work vaccines have time, they call everything mainstream medicine and main stream media says on it as lies. Sorry, but the one venting is you.

            • Christopher Sarsfield

              You said:

              “They will say the doctors/MSM are lying here.”

              Notice lying HERE. That means in this case. They are not, and your statement was idiotic venting. I asked you what your point was then you said:

              “You are just dishonest about the tactic.”

              “You,” I assume means me, therefore you accuse me of being dishonest, because I could not read your mind or understand your idiotic venting. Read your first post. You said nothing about tactics. You said that anti-vaccine people will accuse MSM/MDs of lying in this case. If you had any integrity, you would have admitted your first post was venting, and was meaningless to Mark’s post. But I guess both sides of this debate have their defenders that have little integrity.

      • Debra

        On the contrary, the fear is that the vaccine may be more dangerous than the diseases they prevent and that the ill effects are being covered up (lied about). It’s not that that they WANT them to get the diseases.

    • Dave

      I don’t think anyone is lying. What I do wonder, though, is how many measles “outbreaks” don’t make the news because they can’t be traced to a group of people that aren’t vaccinated.

      The anti-vaccine position isn’t based on claims that they don’t help with one’s chances of contracting a disease, but with issues related to side-effects. Although, I have seen a graph showing mortality rates of various diseases in both the US and UK from 1900 on, which doesn’t show any evidence that vaccines cut the mortality rate. The mortality rates have been on a straight-line decline for more than a century according to the graph. Now, whether the graph is accurate or not, or exactly what that proves, I cannot say.

      • HornOrSilk

        So you are making a suggestion they “hide” facts, and then say they are not lying when they say it protects. You can’t have it both ways. If they say it protects and shows it protects by lower rates, then if they ignore outbreaks as you say, their stats are lies and they are lying.

        And the idea that anti-vaccine position isn’t based on claims that they don’t help with chances of contracting the disease is not true: I know MANY who promote vaccines are used to SPREAD the diseases. And where did you see this graph, and mortality rates of what? I can tell you, the mortality rates due to many diseases clearly are DOWN due to vaccines, proven time and time again. I think you have a bad graph made up my snake oil salesmen.

        • Dave

          I’m not sure they consciously hide anything. It just doesn’t make for as interesting of a story if there is no reason that they can point to for the outbreak.

          Honestly, I have not heard the claim that the vaccines are used to intentionally spread the diseases before. That is pretty far out there.

          For what it’s worth, I found the graphs here:

          I don’t stand behind everything said there. There seemed to be a lot of bad reasoning and speculative handwaving on both sides in the comments section, but the graphs are interesting if true.

          • HornOrSilk

   here you will see on Alex Jones where vaccines were said to be used to spread the swine flu.. just an example..

            Yes, it is far out, but the thing is, when one examines the conspiracy theories about vaccines, it turns out far out!

          • enness

            “It just doesn’t make for as interesting of a story if there is no reason that they can point to for the outbreak.”

            I find the opposite to be true: the more mystery, the more interesting the story. Of all the food-related outbreaks that have made the news, to my knowledge, I don’t recall one where they knew the exact source at the outset. They were still big news. If there were false positives, the plot only thickened.

  • ivan_the_mad

    Whenever I hear of those in authority causing harm, especially a religious authority, I think of Luke 12:48.

  • Thinkling

    I have no strong opinions about vaccines per se (except that they are notoriously hard to make, much more than most people realize), but I recoil from the unbridled gnosticism (and Mammon) which is behind a great deal of the anti-vaccine movement. Amazing how healthy a nearly 2 millenia old heresy is today.

    Someone once said Sin Makes You Stupid. It is remarkable how many folks take medical advice from a Playboy bunny over a doctor.

    • sufferingmom

      No, I’m not taking medical advice from a playboy bunny. She happens to be a mother who saw her son regress after the MMR vaccine. I too saw my son regress after the MMR vaccine. Many parents had a perfectly healthy normal developing kid and went in for their well child visit, had them vaccinated, watched their kid get terribly sick, seizures, etc and then their kid was never the same. And then we get people like you telling us it’s all in our heads and it wasn’t the vaccine. But we parents have to look further since we’re living this nightmare and Jenny McCarthy’s name does come up because she lived it too and we find our stories are similar. So I don’t give a rat’s ass if she was a playboy model, that hasn’t been an asset for her as can be seen in your idiotic comment, I can relate to her and find I’m doing similar things to recover my son as she did and many parents that are in hers and my shoes do the same and see success. I’ve got news for you folks who like to sit on your high horse while us parents of autistic children are struggling. We read the studies that supposedly disprove the link. We read the studies that DO show a link. We have to. We’re forced to if we want to figure out what went wrong. You’re not. You can say your inane comments about the playboy bunny as if that somehow makes her less human than you. Shame on you. If you’re Catholic, double shame.

      • HornOrSilk

        Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

        • enness

          Ditto, and it has nothing to do with any desire to attack the credibility of mom’s struggle. It’s just a fact that our own two eyes are not infallible.

      • Christopher Sarsfield

        Suffering mom, I am very sorry you are going through this. I do not know what caused you child’s regression. He most likely had a genetic susceptibility, caused by an environmental trigger/s. Unfortunately, “science” and the government could not care less about you or your child. They will never look into environmental triggers for autism. That is why we have no studies comparing outcomes of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated children. Their issues “science” just does not want to deal with.

      • Dave

        You are wasting your time here, sufferingmom. I believe you because I have seen a very similar situation with my nephew, but most won’t because the studies supposedly “prove” that there is no link. They will parrot the talking points and say that the onset of autism “just happened” to coincide with the vaccination.

        FWIW, I don’t think that the vaccinations are the sole culprit here. I think that as our environment gets more and more toxic, and our diets unhealthy, our immune systems are more and more overburdened, and we are less and less able to handle the vaccines as time goes along and toxins increase. Also, the infants are born less healthy in the first place because their parents are dealing with the toxins…

        God bless you. I will pray for you, and for your child to get better. Have you tried the GAPS diet? I have heard of a lot of successes with it…

      • Thinkling

        You and I have one major similarity and one major difference. We both saw symptoms of autism in our sons shortly after a vaccine. But you wish for affirmation of your gnostic sin, whereas I comdemn sin wherever I see it.

        • Christopher Sarsfield

          Congratulations, you win the prize for most evil comment of the thread, for having the only objectively mortally sinful comment. Hopefully, you won a trip to confession. Gnosticism is a heresy, and as such is mortally sinful. Your accusation of Gnosticism is libel. The degree of the sin of libel is dependent on the degree of of the libel. You lie about someone being a heretic, you have committed a mortal sin. Throwing around phony accusations of heresy does not make you look intelligent. Everyone can see that suffering mom has in no way shown herself to be Gnostic. Look at Mark’s response to her above. It is model of charity.

  • LSpinelli

    It boggles my mind how many conservative Catholics and conspiracy-minded folks believe this nonsense. Those quacks at Natural News probably would have the torches and pitchforks out for Jenner, Salk and Pasteur. Anti-science at its finest.

    • HornOrSilk

      Natural news is a big time money-making scam site. “Don’t trust the doctors, here, have some of our super-duper real medicine based upon… [substitute quack theory]”

  • Fr. Denis Lemieux

    Mark – wow, I thought you were brave taking on the Medjugorge crowd, the Corapi crowd, the radtrad crowd, the torture crowd… but now you’re going after the anti-vaccine people. You are…. brave? Foolish? Immune from most childhood diseases? Bless you, my son…

    • Andy, Bad Person

      I just keep coming back here and to Simcha’s hoping that The Great Pants Debate will rekindle someday.

      A man can dream…

      • Fr. Denis Lemieux

        Oh yeah – I forgot about the pants debate – oh the insane conversations of yesteryear…

  • John Thrippleton

    Just like Thinkling, I don’t have strong opinions either way regarding vaccines. I think some are definitely wonderful inventions/discoveries, but there are some that are either overused or under effective. I think prudence must be used when deciding on vaccinations taking into account the disease (i.e. chicken pox is much less necessary than measles) and the person (the elderly are more at risk from dying from influenza than a healthy young adult). Blanket laws requiring vaccinations are an obstacle to this.

    Although the myths regarding links to autism and the measles vaccine have been disproved, other younger vaccines may have side effects we haven’t anticipated. We should proceed with caution in applying these vaccines universally. Vaccines like polio, small pox, pertussis, and measles have been proven safe over time, but continued prudence in their continued use would be wise as well.

    In short instead of going like a lemming, all in for or against vaccines. Look at each one objectively and make decisions appropriately.

    However, one point the author of that blog makes is incorrect given what she has reported. “This story punctuates how vaccine denial puts others at risk. Sadly, more evidence of this is easy to find.” It appears that the only victims of this epidemic are those who chose not to vaccinate. That is the risk that is taken when that choice is taken. We might not take that same risk, but it isn’t our decision to make. We must decide for ourselves, not make decisions for others. If you don’t want measles, get vaccinated. I don’t, and I did.

    • “That is the risk that is taken when that choice is taken. We might not
      take that same risk, but it isn’t our decision to make. We must decide
      for ourselves, not make decisions for others. If you don’t want measles,
      get vaccinated. I don’t, and I did.”

      I can’t speak to the victims of this particular outbreak, but there is always risk to children too young to get the vaccine, to those people whose weakened or non-existent immune systems prevent them from getting the vaccine, and even to people who have been vaccinated because the vaccine is not 100% effective. That’s why herd immunity matters. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again — I care about this deeply, because Beadboy1 has been vaccinated but he also has a weakened immune system and a host of respiratory issues, such that a simple cold virus can send him to the ICU.

      • mephis

        I was going to comment about herd immunity too. Vaccination is not just a decision that affects the individual, but one that affects the whole society. Vaccination protects others as well as yourself. Plus (if I’ve understood correctly), if a disease can hang around long enough by hopping between un-vaccinated people, it can mutate and bypass the vaccine, and then we’re back to square 1. If enough people are vaccinated, the disease will instead disappear.

    • said she

      “Vaccines like polio, small pox, pertussis, and measles have been proven safe over time” – but have the methods/ingredients/misc stuff remained the same? I, too, have family members who were apparently affected very negatively by vaccinations, yet we never heard of such things back when I was a kid (late 50’s-early 60’s). This is only anecdotal evidence, but I wonder how many people are unaware of the changes made to the vaccines, themselves. And have those changes been studied sufficiently?.

      • enness

        What changes do you mean? The major change I’m aware of was when they stopped using the preservative thimerosal that people so strenuously objected to (and a few still think is in there, though it hasn’t been for something like fifteen years).

  • sufferingmom

    You know, I’m really sick to death of people who want to go on about how wonderful vaccines are and how those of us who question it’s over use are crazy and we should all be forced to vaccinate our kids when there are those of us who watched our kids get very sick right after the MMR shot and then they were never the same and now I’m cleaning poop off the walls because my 4 year old non-verbal autistic son thinks it’s something to play with and when we go to the beach I have to keep him from eating sand and i have to chase him around and try and keep him out of everything,( and please don’t tell me how your neurotypical kid does the same, I have 2 older NT kids, this is different,) and I get to be up with him the middle of the night because he’s giddy from candida over growth in his gut, I could go on and on. Bottom line is, I didn’t want to think the MMR contributed to his autism. Eventually I had to face that sad fact. I have a vested interest in finding out what went wrong so I actually read the studies that supposedly settle the issue. They don’t settle it.
    When you’re a parent who saw with your own eyes what happened to your perfectly healthy child right after vaccinating them you grow really tired of the BS argument “correlation doesn’t equal causation…” Yeah, except with it does!

    And I actually read the studies that DO show a link. There are so many of them. But if you’re not dealing with this you have no reason to look deeper into it. You can just go off these stories and say “SEE, stupid people that don’t vaccinate!” How nice for you. Consider yourselves very lucky.

    And you know, most of us are not even entirely against vaccinations! We just want them to be safer but the drug companies have absolutely NO REASON to make them safer because guess what? THEY CAN’T BE SUED!

    I’ll miss reading this blog but these type of stories and the judgemental attitudes that come out of them are just too much insult to my vaccine injured child.
    God bless.

    • chezami

      I’m sorry for the suffering you have endured. But I have said nothing, absolutely nothing, about you being crazy. I have simply pointed out that for a non-expert like me, when faced with a choice between somebody who has studied the question for years and some stranger on the internet, I see no good reason to trust the random stranger on the internet.

      • Sam Schmitt

        Why the skepticism about climate change (caused by humans) and not this – after all – those arguing for CC are people who have “studied the question for years.” I’m not a scientist either, but the unquestioning obedience required about vaccinations puts up my skepticism radar big time, just like it does with CC.

  • Erin Manning

    Mark, this happened pretty near where I live, so I’ve seen local news stories which have details your link doesn’t. Three of the initial 11 cases occurred in people who had been vaccinated and a total of five of the 16 Tarrant County cases had been vaccinated, though whether the person who traveled to Mexico on a mission trip and brought measles back with him (the initial case) was one of those previously vaccinated or not remains unclear. The media is reporting that those initial three previously-vaccinated people couldn’t “confirm” that they’d been vaccinated as children, but it’s worth pointing out that few of us could (I, for one, have no official doctor’s records of my vaccines, just the handwritten card my mom was supposed to keep which wasn’t properly updated–with nine children, who could blame her?).

    In nearly every recent measles outbreak in America at least some of the cases (anywhere from one-fourth to one-half to greater) were in people had been vaccinated. Usually these cases are listed as either vaccine failures (that is, the vaccine was a bad lot or didn’t work for some unknown reason) or cases involving people who couldn’t prove vaccine status. There has not, to my knowledge, been a measles outbreak (more than the normal number of cases for an area, that is) that did not include at least some vaccinated people.

    Anyway, I point this out because the piece you link to claims that all of the cases occurred in unvaccinated people this time, but that is not apparently true.

    • HornOrSilk

      The point of vaccination is both to protect individuals (to decrease probability of an individual contracting a disease) as well as groups. If you have more people who are less likely to catch it, then there is less likely for it to spread. But when you have a large group of unprotected people, they will quickly spread it because there is no shielding going on.

    • Dan C

      Vaccine immunity is weaker than wild-type infection. So yes, if a person is an 18 yo and over a decade has passed since last vaccination, vaccine efficacy and immune memory has waned. Put 1000 or these folks together, in a dorm, in a megachurch youth rally, and put one unvaccinated infected individual in their midst and previously vsccinated folks will become innoculated with wild-type disease. What media reports do not tell is how many vaccinations one received (only one at age 1?) or time elapsed since last vaccination. One vaccination for MMR is notoriously inadequate immunity.

      The research demonstrates that if one is adequately vaccinated, one is unlikely (highly unlikely) to get infection, and, more importantly even more unlikely (to near zero chance) even if one is infected from suffering encephalitis or pneumonia.

  • From the article:

    “In Texas, a (most likely now formerly) anti-vaccine megachurch is the epicenter of a measles outbreak that so far has infected 20 people.”

    “Measles is a potentially deadly disease, killing one or more out of a thousand who contract it.”

    So far the probability that this outbreak will be lethal is still small given the evidence presented in the article. With that said, vaccines can be very effective in disease prevention and more often than not it would be imprudent not to get vaccinated (a notable exception being the HPV vaccine, however).

    • enness

      Glad you mentioned that. That is one I have thus far refused to get, and I have not regretted it.

  • Sheila Hughes

    Hopefully, this blog post I read today may add to the discussion: It had a lot of interesting points to consider.

    I can certainly understand wanting to protect the “herd” and especially those most vulnerable. If the most vulnerable are vaccinated, why wouldn’t they then be protected, regardless as to whether others are or not? It seems that vaccines, as reported, are not 100% reliable and the side effects of vaccines are also quite serious for a lot of people as well. The mud slinging, however, isn’t helpful to either side but studying the topic, objectively, if that is possible, can be.

    My kids are relatively healthy and if they did get some of the child hood diseases, I know they would have survived, just as we do with most viruses around here, despite the struggle going through it. Life long immunity that goes with some of these diseases is much more preferable, in my view. I did vaccinate my kids, and have a child with autism, who is my youngest. If I could go back and change anything, it would be to change the schedule (ie. spread it out and go without a few, such as chicken pox). However reasonable that may be, it still ends up offending others, but each parent has to be, in my opinion, respected for doing what they think is best for their child and their family.

    • enness

      You positive they would have survived? And if you’ll pardon my asking, isn’t that setting the bar a bit low?

      I know someone who had scarlet fever (yeah, I know — previously I thought that only happened in The Velveteen Rabbit; I’m sure I’m not alone in that thought). He lived, but it left him with significantly diminished hearing.