The “experts” appear to be mystified by the recent outbreak of mumps, but should they be? Here’s maybe why not:
1) Although the MMR and other vaccines were touted as affording life-long protection, way before there was any data to support such a claim, as it turns out, vaccine-induce immunity wanes over time. (If it did not, the authorities wouldn’t be requiring or recommending booster shots.) In fact, it would appear that the way vaccines continue to work is by being “boosted” via exposure to circulating virus.
Revaccination doesn’t necessarily work. Just ask the developer of the measles vaccine, Dr. Samuel Katz. Here is what he and his coauthors wrote in the textbook “Vaccines”: “Boosting of antibody titers appears to be transient, with several investigators finding decay of antibody levels to the pre-revaccination level within months to years”.
So here’s what may be happening: To varying degrees, the diseases continue to circulate subclinically, boosting the immunity of the vaccinated. Perhaps, however, either in the long run they do not circulate enough and/or (boosted) vaccine immunity cannot be sustained indefinitely. Given that vaccine-induced immunity eventually wanes and revaccination doesn’t necessarily work, at some point either the circulating viruses or exposure to a full-blown case will cause full-blown disease in at least some of the vaccinated.
I have long argued that it might have been better to allow children living in developed nations, where most of these diseases usually do not have life-long negative consequences if contracted during childhood, to get the diseases when they are the least dangerous. But our health professionals thought otherwise and decided to vaccinate our children against these diseases at the very point in their lives when they were best able to handle them.
More and more, it’s looking like they may have been wrong to have done so.
And if measles, which can be far more serious for infants and adults, makes a similar comeback, let's hope it doesn't turn out that they were dead-wrong.*
Sandy Gottstein Date:
*For more on this, go to:
09/12/03 - Shoot First, Don't Ask Questions Later
09/13/02 - Measles In The Vaccination Age: Is It Now Deadlier?
09/06/02 - Don't Worry, Be Happy
05/31/02 - "Appearances often are deceiving." - Aesop
04/19/02 - “He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts—for support rather than illumination.” - Andrew Lang - More confusing disease stats
02/01/02 - What Is Wrong With This Picture?
"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." - Wendell Phillips (1811-1884), paraphrasing John Philpot Curran (1808)