MMR Vaccine: Swansea measles outbreak figures given out by Public health Wales and the media were exaggerated
Marion Lyons, Public Wales Health Director, speaking on BBC Wales during the Swansea measles outbreak.
Urgent calls for more more measles vaccination have been seen in the London press in Wales recently, often repeated by members of the Senedd in Cardiff bay.
A recent major measles outbreak which came under the mainstream media spotlight took place between 1st November 2012 and 3rd July 2013 and centered on Swansea and Neath Port Talbot. As can be seen from this Welsh multi agency report released in October 2013, titled ‘Measles in Wales November 2012 to JULY 2013, final October 2013 report‘, 1430 potential cases of measles are given as notified (reported only, not confirmed) pan Wales figures whilst also stating that the real confirmed final case figure was 432.
However, as the screen shots here demonstrate, figures for this measles outbreak given out by Public Health Wales, press and media were mostly exaggerated, ambiguous and not properly explained to the public. This led to actual case figures appearing to be far greater than they actually were. In other words, most of the reported/notifications figures given misleadingly appeared to be actual confirmed cases. But as mentioned above, out of the 1430 pan Wales cases reported by Public Health Wales in the November 2012 to July 2013 measles outbreak, only 432 eventually turned out to be actual confirmed measles cases, with 5 more cases later being added making this final figure 437.
Out of this final confirmed figure of 437 confirmed cases, at least 50 had also had the single or full MMR (Mumps, Measles, Rubella) vaccine jab – 19 having had the single MMR jab and 31 having had the two MMR jabs according to information obtained from the public body.
Furthermore, out of the 437 confirmed cases, the number of people ‘assessed in or admitted to hospital’ in the main Abertawe Bro Morgannwg area is also reported as being only 44 – perhaps not quite the overwhelming epidemic that was sold to the public.
Early reported measles numbers for the November 2012 to July 2013 can also be seen in this official pdf report by the Communicable Disease Surveillance Center Wales used by Public Health Wales whilst the actual laboratory confirmed measles cases for the same period can also be seen in this pdf here by the same center. It can be seen from all these reports that there is a huge difference between the number of reported cases and the number of confirmed ones.
Even more worryingly, according to an article by James Meikle in the Guardian, by now:
‘…….Authorities in Wales are no longer recording laboratory-confirmed cases”
In reaction to this Guardian article by James Meikle, Jackie Fletcher from the JABS (Justice, Awareness and Basic Support) – a support group for parents of vaccine-damaged children asks:
“Why was this decision made? In the world of statistics accuracy is paramount. It also leaves the situation open to misdiagnosis and manipulation of public fears if there is a question of inaccurate stats. We have this bizarre situation were the authorities can tell us the running total of suspected cases of measles but the lab-confirmed cases are either accurate or meaningless – why damage their own stats if measles is really climbing?”
Going back to the exaggerated figures, why did Public Health Wales and the London press in Wales seemingly exaggerate the figures and fail to be far more clear in making the necessary distinction when reporting to the Welsh public and media?
This raises fundamental questions about how information is and isn’t clearly provided to the Welsh public by public bodies such as Public Health Wales, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg Health Board, the BBC and other London media in Wales.
Public Health Wales, under the leadership of Public Health Director Marion Lyons, and ultimately Chief Executive Dr Tracey Cooper, and together with the press and media, appear to have failed to fully and effectively explain the measles figures to the Welsh public.
As the screen captures and links show, numerous Public Health Wales press releases and online media reports from the outbreak period were often publicising unconfirmed ‘reported cases’ as what could be construed as being confirmed cases. Either that or simply failing to mention that the figures were ‘reported only cases’, giving an ambiguous and exaggerated picture in the process:
A great number of these press reports came from Public Health Wales itself as can be seen in these below Public Health Wales links and screen captures which also contain quotes and statements by Marion Lyons and others alluding to case numbers:
It is incredible that the whole London press and media in Wales appear to have completely failed to effectively question and scrutinise these figures. Not even once has it been raised. The mainstream media seem to have tragically forsaken its role as interrogator of our health and public bodies – instead seeming to roll over and become their mouth pieces without question.
Political bias can be forgiven or at least understood. Failure to question areas that may affect young and future lives is a drastic failure of scrutiny. How did hundreds of paid, professional members of the press and media in Wales fail to point out any potential discrepancy whatsoever, not even as a pointing out exercise made in passing? How could this happen?
Why and how this occurred also raises justifiable concerns about Public Health Wales and public figures such as their Public Health Director Marion Lyons and Chief Executive Dr Tracey Cooper. How exactly could such crucial and elemental information be so badly communicated by such a prominent public body and its prominent employees ?
When asked to comment on their often ambiguous figures, members of the Public Health Wales team have refused to accept any problems and answer that they have always been careful to draw a distinction between notified and confirmed cases. As media and Public Health Wales press releases show, this is blatantly incorrect. This is the one thing they have failed to do properly.
Questions also have to be asked about the effectiveness of the MMR jab. If, as Public Health Wales have confirmed, 50 out of the 437 confirmed cases had had either the single or double MMR jab, this is a 11.4% failure rate in effectiveness if using information from this particular outbreak. 11.4 % is a worryingly high failure rate for a treatment that is being promoted as an unequivocally effective treatment.
Public Health Wales Chief Executive Dr Tracey Cooper speaking in her other role as President of the International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQUA)
There is no denying that measles can spread or that it can be a danger to health in many cases. There is also little doubt that some vaccines can be beneficial and can help protect lives in a number of cases. It’s also obviously a very emotive issue and an area to be treated with care and careful balanced consideration.
In general, history does seem to indicate that general improvements in public health, in nutrition, housing and the availability of clean water, reduces the numbers of measles deaths to a few before mass scale enforced vaccine is brought into play.
At the height of the First World war, annual measles deaths in Wales and England were around 17,000, then falling to around 100 in the mid 1950s. In 1962, six years before the first measles vaccine was introduced, this figure was down to 39, falling yet again to 6 in 1979. In other words, as peer-reviewed papers indicate, measles deaths appear to have been already falling fast as quality of life improved, long before the measles vaccine was introduced in 1968.
It was not that long ago that parents openly held stay over measles parties for kids in order to ‘get it over and done with’. And although generalisations do not help any victims and their families, the principle of an informed choice is still an important one. As well as abstention, one of the choices for parents is to allow single instead of multi concoction jabs like MMR – a simple idea where a particular disease can be tackled methodically on a one to one basis.
And there are also still a number of unanswered questions and concerns about the contents of vaccines and the myriad of injections that children are obliged to take in general. Children are now obliged to take up to a remarkable 33 various injections or shots by the time they are around 3 years 4 months old. It is only natural and right for parents to want to have all the best available information to hand before making the informed decision of what they believe is best for their child, whatever that decision may be.
The actual ingredients that giant pharmaceutical companies, via governments, insist on injecting into young persons who are not yet able to fully exercise their rightful freedom of choice in the matter, is still highly contentious. As is the media and government derision and intimidation often seen towards the legitimate free choice of parents and those who want to further look into these concerns and come to their own informed conclusions.
Some of the known MMR vaccine ingredients include viral diseases, fecal material, fetal bovine serum (from dead calf fetuses), human serum albumin, Sorbitol, DNA fragments from other species including chick embryonic fluid , Polysorcate 80 ( a sterilising agent) and human diploid cells from aborted human fetal tissue – hardly a recipe that will put responsible parents at ease and not a good start wherever you’re standing. It surely simply cannot be known what all the long-term effects of all these numerous jabs that are now been administered will be.
Many are questioning statements made by health professionals who incorrectly state that the MMR vaccine has no adverse effect, and are also calling for the right of parents to make informed choices and opt for single injections rather than a concotion of injections if they so wish. As there are benefits to vaccines, there are also officially admitted risks. Here and in the below screen shots below, Dr Marion Lyons, Sara Hayes of Abertawe Bro Morgannwg Board and others can be seen to be making statements that many might find misleading:
“There’s no adverse effect to this extra jab and those children would still need to receive the recommended two doses at 13 months and three years four months.”
As seen in the screenshot below and this link, Dr Sara Hayes, Health director of Public Health on the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg Health Board also incorrectly states:
‘MMR is a simple and safe jab which will protect your child’s health’
Here and in the below screenshot, an anonymous source believed to be from Public Health Wales incorrectly states that:
‘having three doses of the vaccine was safe but only usually offered during an epidemic’
In reaction to these statements on MMR safety, Jackie Fletcher of JABS states:
“The director of Public Health would do well to study the vaccine manufacturers’ product information before making such claims. The list of serious adverse reactions associated with MMR vaccines are noted there”
On her site, Jackie, referring to the UK’s government Vaccine Damage Payment Unit, also points out that:
“In the UK a person could be eligible for a vaccine damage payment if their severe disability of death was caused by vaccination against any number of diseases (including the MMR vaccine)”
Whilst specific claims of damage and illnesses may sometimes be a contentious issue and very hard for those of us without enough medical background to have enough of an informed enough opinion either way, this does not address the known facts, as Jackie Fletcher points out. It would be very hard to dismiss and ridicule all vaccine safety concerns as the work of ‘attention seekers’ when the manufacturers themselves print the risks on their own products and whilst vaccine damage payments units have been set up by the UK government and elsewhere. Parents, at the very least, have a right to be given all the information about benefits as well as known risks so that they can make their own well informed choices.
It seems incredulous if Dr Marion Lyons, the CEO Dr Tracey Cooper, Dr Sara Hayes of Abertawe Bro Morgannwg Board and others are unaware of all this public information about vaccine risks put out by their manufacturers as well as the fact that a UK Vaccine Damage Payment Unit exists in the UK – an UK government scheme which pays out compensation to parents whose children have been damaged by the MMR jab and others like it as noted above.
We the general public are largely at the mercy of scientists and the medical profession to look out for us. But if they are not allowed to speak their minds, and depend on government grants and often corporate sponsors for their livelihood, how can we not be concerned? If we can’t trust them to do a thorough job who can we trust?
A damning recent 2011 report by Lucija Tomljenovic, PhD of University of British Columbia, titled ‘The vaccination policy and the Code of Practice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI): are they at odds’?” also raises crucial issues about transparency by the UK Department of Health and Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
Her report describes how transcripts of the JCVI meetings allegedly show that some of the Committee members have extensive ties to pharmaceutical companies, that the JCVI frequently co-operated with vaccine manufacturers on strategies aimed at boosting vaccine uptake, and that methodologically dubious studies have been used whilst vaccine safety issues and safety concerns have been downplayed, ignoring the standard precautionary principle in the process.
Tomljenovic states that this:
“could thus be considered as a form of ethical violation or misconduct”
The Welsh and UK Government must know about this report by Tomljenovic and others like it. So far there seems to have been no official governmental response to her research and worrying claims regarding the JCVI.
Ignoring the basic scientific precautionary principle when it comes to injecting substances into children is certainly not something to be taken lightly.
The Precautionary Principle is defined by the European Commission as:
‘The precautionary principle applies where scientific evidence is insufficient, inconclusive or uncertain and preliminary scientific evaluation indicates that there are reasonable grounds for concern that the potentially dangerous effects on the environment, human, animal or plant health may be inconsistent with the high level of protection chosen”
Vivienne Parry, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which advises the Government on the controversial MMR injection has previously stated that:
“There’s a small risk with all vaccines. No one has ever said that any vaccine is completely without side-effects. But we have to decide whether the benefits outweigh the risks. If we had measles, it would kill lots of children. If you have a vaccine, it will damage some children, but a very small number”
Vivienne Parry should be applauded for her straight talking. But what often seems like unnecessary scaremongering of catastrophic epidemics have failed to fully convince the Welsh and UK public that they should unequivocally rush out to vaccinate themselves and their children with a myriad of contentious injections. At least not before they have had a chance to look at all the facts in order to make an informed decision over the health of their child or children.
And deriding the work and rights of those well informed people who question the state and media line as heretics and trouble makers is not only wrong but dangerous. Media pushed polemicism and cognitive dissonance are amongst us, meaning that people are often unable to think freely and in a reasoned, analytical way.
Playing the man or woman rather than playing the ball also means that the science and ethics involved are often brushed aside. This lack of objective reality often leads to unhelpful knee jerk reactions – dismission and willful ignorance often being the preferred choice. Perhaps this is at least understandable in a world with so many media induced fears being generated on a daily basis.
One of the few papers in Wales who have previously had the courage and decency to give a fair and balanced voice to all sides of the vaccine debate is the South Wales Evening Post. It says a lot about where we are today that a paper publisher needs to be commended for giving a platform to both sides of a story. This is not what a free society is supposed to be about.
Requests for the Welsh Government to look in to the safety and effectiveness of all vaccines administered in Wales have not yet been taken up (see a refused petition by Sovereign Wales in the Welsh Government’s inadmissible petiton list or pdf here – page 44 for both) Even though health is a devolved issue, powers in relation to the licensing of vaccines and the regulation of monitoring of vaccine safety are not devolved and vaccine damage payments are areas bizarrely exempted from Welsh Government responsibilities under Schedule 7 of the Government of Wales Act 2006.
But an independent investigation into potential risks could only be a good thing for all. If those people raising concerns about MMR have no legitimate argument, then why should proponents of MMR and other vaccine shots be concerned in any way? Surely this could be the perfect opportunity for these concerns to be laid to rest if they are so unfounded, as many in public health bodies would claim?
The question must surely come down to well-informed parental choice. The Health Service is supposed to be a Health ‘Service’, not a statist pharmaceutical enforcement agency. And we the public are supposed to have a choice, not an ultimatum. In the case of vaccines, this choice has to include abstention as well as the common sense option of single vaccines rather than the concoction of contentious chemicals that are presently offered.
Public Health Wales and the Welsh Government are entrusted with our health. It remains to be seen how they and the London media in Wales seem to have failed to communicate much-needed health information as clearly and effectively as possible to the Welsh public in the case of the Swansea measles outbreak of 2012-2013.
It also appears that the present London media and press in Wales have again sadly failed in their purported scrutinising, and that this now falls down to us the citizens of this country. The Public Health Wales Executive team can be found here: Marion Lyons, Director of Health Protection for Wales can be emailed at Marion.firstname.lastname@example.org. Public Health Wales Chief Executive Tracey Cooper can be emailed at Tracey.email@example.com. Or, more effectively, respectfully demand to speak to Tracey Cooper by telephoning Public Health Wales on 02920 227 744
JABS (Justice, Awareness and Basic Support) is one of the longest running independent support groups in Britain for parents who believe their children have suffered severe harm or have died following childhood vaccinations. The group was launched in January 1994 and has since been fighting to achieve justice for children and their families affected by vaccines.
JABS is set up by a husband and wife whose own son became severely ill after being given the MMR vaccine and fought for and won vaccine damage payments from the UK government. They receive no other charity or state support and rely on donations to carry on with their courageous and crucial volunteer work. For their website and other organisations that deal with the vaccine debate and for further academic peer-reviewed research and reports please see below links:
Child Health Safety
Government Vaccine Damage Payments – how to claim