Examining the truths and myths behind the MMR vaccine

(source: WTOC)
(source: WTOC)
Updated: May. 23, 2019 at 5:03 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Measles vaccinations have long been a subject of debate in America, so much so that for the first time since the year 2000, there is now an outbreak. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are more than 800 cases across the nation. 6 of those cases are right here in GA.

“Over the last 15 to 17 years, certain pockets of individuals have decided not to get vaccinated so we have more people who are not immune to the virus,” said Dr. Lawton Davis, the Director of the Coastal Health District.

It’s believed that what some call the 'anti-vaxxer’ movement started because of a paper published back in 1998 in the medical journal “Lancet”, stating that vaccines were linked to Chron’s Disease, an inflammatory immune disease, as well as autism.

“That has been disproven," said Dr. Davis. "There have been multiple studies in multiple countries that have refuted the findings and suggestions of that study. The physician who was the lead author of that paper has lost his license to practice medicine. And the Lancet has retracted that article and issued an apology for publishing that article.”

The basis for the article was a type of mercury called thimerosal that was believed to cause autism and Chron’s Disease. It was added to the vaccine in the 1940’s or 50’s as a preservative, after children got sick from the bacteria. Some contracted staph infections or even died from the infection. Dr. Davis says that threat no longer exist.

“Thimerosal has been removed from the vaccine since 1990′s or 2000′s there about, but unfortunately autism spectrum disorders are on the rise," said Dr. Davis. "But I think you can deduce backwards that if the rise were due to mercury or thimerosal, we should start seeing a tapering of the cases of autism has not been the case.”

Dr. Davis says the risks to your child are far greater without the vaccine. Measles are one of the most highly infectious viruses in the world.

“Over 90% of people who are susceptible to the measles who are exposed to an active case of the measles will develop a case of the measles. If a child went to his doctor’s office and had the measles and was in the exam room and left, even an hour and a half to two hours later, then the doctor brought in 10 people who were susceptible into that room, 9 of those people would get it even if it were two hours later after that person had left. That’s how contagious it is.”

The most common side effects of contracting the measles for an unvaccinated child include:

  • fever
  • cough
  • runny nose
  • red burning eyes
  • rash.

On rare occasions, the child can develop:

  • diarrhea
  • ear infections
  • pneumonia
  • encephalitis: inflammation
  • swelling of the brain.

Some will even die from the measles.

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