By Robert Wenzel
Over the weekend, I had brunch with a friend who brought along his medical doctor friend.
The MD seemed hip to new trends (fads?). He said it used to be all about the paleo-diet but now it is about the keto diet, though his online bio mentions a specialty in paleo but not keto. I guess his website hasn't caught up to his expertise.
He is located in a hip medical building in San Francisco and he said he charges $560 per hour.
He seemed bright and gave the impression he was up on the literature, so at no cost to me I probed this $560 per hour doctor.
I asked him about vaccines. I told him
that in the last 20 years I had taken a flu shot three times and those were the only years I caught the flu. He shrugged it off a coincidence--that I had simply caught a version of the flu those three years that the vaccines were not designed for.
I asked him about measles and autism. He dismissed the correlation. "Correlation is not causation," he said.
He said, "I will admit to you that sometimes I talk about things I don't know a lot about but I have carefully studied vaccinations."
He isn't a libertarian so I didn't go into the horrors of forced vaccinations but I formed a question this way.
"Let's forget about the question of greater good. If a parent has a child of vaccination age, doesn't it make sense to avoid the vaccination on an individual level, since the chance of catching measles these days is very slim and even if a child catches the measles it does not appear to be that threatening of a disease?"
This $560 per hour, self-proclaimed careful student of vaccines, medical doctor shot back, "5% of children who caught measles died."
This number didn't seem right to me. I went to a grammar school of about 300 kids. We all got measles. All my cousins got measles. All the neighborhood kids I played with got measles. I don't recall one kid funeral I had to attend. If the number the MD spouted was correct my guess is that over my childhood, I would have been aware of maybe 30 kid deaths. I knew of none.
I didn't have ready numbers to disprove him so I just allowed him to continue.
He went on to say that a child could catch measles from exposure on the San Francisco BART if he didn't get the vaccinated.
When I got home, I hit the internet to probe all this more closely.
According to the Center for Disease Control, there were only 118 cases of measles in the United States last year. That's just a little more than 2 per state. Thus, I concluded that the concern that a child would be exposed to measles on BART was just silly.
But what about this claim that 5% of those who contract measles die?
Apparently, the measles death scare is pretty prevalent. I found an interesting article at Science 2020 and the author, based on his childhood experiences that were similar to mine, had the same questions about the high measles death claims:
But get this (my bold):
In a 2004 review... Orenstein, Papania and Warton make the point that not every case of measles in the US is reported, or at least it wasn’t, when the disease was more common.
According to their paper, from 1956 to 1960, there were an average of 450 measles-related deaths reported each year in the US, or approximately 1 death per 1000 reported cases. At the time though, it was estimated that more than 90% of Americans had been infected by measles by the age of 15 – equivalent to roughly 4 million children and teens per year. (Langmuir, A.D. (1962), Medical Importance of Measles. Am J Dis Child 103(3):224-226.)So with only about 2 cases of measles per state and the odds of dying from measles probably at least 5,000 to 1, why would a doctor recommend the measles vaccination if he knew there was a correlation with autism (admittedly not a proven causation)?
These data suggest that the chances of dying from measles in the US in the late 1950’s was probably closer to 1 in 10,000.
Accounting for non-reported cases that led to death, and some uncertainty in the numbers, the mortality rate is realistically likely to be around one in a few thousand. But based on the data, it’s not likely to be as high the one or two deaths per 1,000 that’s being widely cited.
My only answer is that the medical sector, like most of society, is driven by an echo chamber that is influenced by second-hand dealers in ideas and that the vaccination industry has captured, with the help of government, the second-hand dealers that influence doctors.
Doctors may be up-to-date on the literature but it is funneled literature that makes them unaware of any facts or thinking outside their funnels. They appear to be even unaware of well-established facts that can easily be found after spending 15 minutes on the internet.
I have no opinion on whether vaccinations cause autism but at least for the measles shot the numbers show that there appears to be no sound justifiable reason to get the shot, when at the same time there does appear to be a correlation (not a causation) between vaccinations and autism.
Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of EconomicPolicyJournal.com and Target Liberty. He also writes EPJ Daily Alert and is author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics and on LinkedIn. His youtube series is here: Robert Wenzel Talks Economics. The Robert Wenzel podcast is on iphone and stitcher. -RW