The following first appeared on the Children’s health defense organization website yesterday.
On November 14, thousands congregated at the National Mall in Washington DC the V.I.E. (Vaccine Injury Epidemic) Event, calling on legislators to hear us out. But was anyone listening?
Apparently not in New Jersey.
In a letter dated November 14 th , Senator Bob Menendez sent a letter to
Mark Zuckerberg lamenting that New Jersey’s measles outbreak last winter,
“has been fueled, in part, by misinformation about vaccine safety spread via
I live in Lakewood, where most of the NJ measles cases occurred. Early last
winter, there were 30 documented cases of measles in Ocean County. Everyone recovered without incident and no serious complications were reported, but the Lakewood “outbreak” made national news and was used to amplify fears over what is a generally benign virus and create panic both within the community and throughout the state. Additionally, the outbreak was used to promote a sneaky legislative amendment that seeks to abolish religious exemptions in New Jersey. As winter approaches this year, it’s worth reviewing the facts on the ground.
The fear-mongering tactics prompted enough skepticism for some community members to pursue Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2 requests from various health and government agencies, and they yielded some interesting information. Since 2008, CHEMED, an Ocean County health clinic has received more than $2 million from the State of New Jersey to increase vaccine uptake. Substantial efforts were directed towards promoting vaccine compliance in the non-public school population, but despite these efforts, religious exemption rates in this cohort more than doubled from
2.4% to 5.2% within the span of just a few years. Obviously, this did not bode well for the clinic’s future funding and public relations campaign. But rather than revisiting the concerns of those seeking exemptions, many officials dismissed these people as reckless, ignorant and in need of an education.
Examining this “outbreak” more closely, 23 of 30 cases occurred in just four families. Of the remaining seven cases, six were among vaccinated
individuals, including the “index case”, the first person to come down with
the disease in Lakewood. The only other clear-cut case of measles was in a
six-month-old infant, too young to be vaccinated, who caught the disease
directly from the index case and recovered uneventfully.
An additional 46 reported cases were either determined to be vaccine strains or failed to meet clinical criteria for measles. Many of these cases occurred days after vaccination, leading to the uncomfortable reality that the vaccine itself was causing measles. To the health department’s credit, unlike the Disneyland outbreak, these 46 cases were not added to the total tally of the measles outbreak.
Recognizing that people may be concerned by the vaccine’s apparent
ineffectiveness or even disease-causing properties, the health department
reassured people with the unsupported claim that if they were vaccinated
and contracted measles, it would be “less severe illness”.
In reality, the measles outbreak in Lakewood is a story at least as much about vaccine failure as it is about the failure to vaccinate. The index case was a vaccinated individual. In addition, many cases of those with “measles-
like symptoms” implicated the vaccine itself.
In Lakewood, as elsewhere, many parents have stopped vaccinating because
they have observed devastating vaccine injuries in their own families. New
Jersey leads the nation in autism, and with an estimate of over 4,000 cases
of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Ocean County may have the highest rate in New Jersey. The Orthodox Jewish community where the outbreak has occurred is a very close-knit community. After witnessing a child’s
regression into autism, or the development of another neurological or autoimmune condition that occurred in close proximity to the administration of a vaccination, they share their stories with friends and family. In Lakewood, “vaccine hesitancy” is based on reality, not rhetoric.
People are concerned for the health of their children.
Ocean County health authorities have not sought to understand these concerns. By not following evidence-based practices they spread the measles, hurt families, scarred children and created the illusion that those who question vaccines are disease-ridden. It is time to expand the conversation regarding vaccines beyond the initiatives that seek to vaccinate every person without consideration for individual needs and beliefs. We need to work toward a framework that listens to the concerns of families as we work to preserve and improve the health of our children.
The author of this article told GL, one physician unabashedly said: “it isn’t about measles, it’s just now is the time to do it”. Another doctor said outright this is a great opportunity to “hit” the anti-vaxxers…
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of GreaterLakewood.