Thursday, January 29, 2015


January 29, 2015 3:30 pm PST
I just sat through a very painful telebriefing on measles put on by the CDC. Leading this event was Anne Schuchat, M.D. (RADM, USPHS) Assistant Surgeon General, United States Public Health Service; Director, CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
Pronounced “Shookit”.
MEDIA: 888-795-0855
NON-MEDIA: 877-601-4718
PASSCODE: CDC MEDIA (all numbers)
I called in promptly just before 3:30 pm PST and was asked my name and then allowed to listen in. Dr. Schuchat was introduced by a Benjamin Haines, Hanes, Hays, (sp, not sure).
Dr. Shuchat made some opening remarks that included the following:
·         The current measles outbreak is concerning because we’ve already had as many cases in January of 2015 as we have had in an entire year in many cases
·         The US has had 84 cases, spanning 14 states and 67 of those have been since December 28, 2014 and are connected to Disneyland
·         Measles was declared “eliminated” in the US in 2000 (there were 86 cases that year, so in a year that there were 86 cases, measles was declared eliminated but now that we have 84 cases in the first month of 2015, it is problematic and concerning)
·         She was very adamant that this outbreak is NOT the result of vaccine failure but failed to provide ANY statistics on the vaccination status of those involved in the outbreak
·         She stated that the MAJORITY of cases in this outbreak are in those who are not vaccinated, but again, failed to give ANY statistics
·         Everyone should get an MMR no matter what, even if they are older and may have had the disease (later on in the call she admits that those over 50 likely have had measles and therefore are immune)
·         The MMR vaccine is extremely safe and effective
·         Vaccine coverage is high which increases the chances of having cases in some vaccinated people
·         This outbreak is “consistent with a highly effective vaccine”
·         1 in 12 children are not getting their first MMR vaccine on time
·         12 months is not too early to get an MMR vaccine, parents should not be afraid to do so
·         We are seeing more cases in adults this time than usual
Other items that came up in her responses to questions were:
·         15% of those in the outbreak have been hospitalized
·         The genotype that caused the Disney outbreak is causing outbreaks in 14 other countries right now.
·         She stated that in 2013, 79% of cases were in unvaccinated individuals (there were 179 cases)
·         At some point she said that 1 in 3 die. She HAD to be talking about the third world but I missed some of the conversation and would need to either listen to it again or see the transcripts.
·         The median age for measles infection is increasing
I promptly pressed *1 as instructed to be allowed to ask a question. I did this twice. I waited patiently. I was never allowed to ask a question. Those allowed to ask questions were:
Ana ? from Bloomberg News
Maggie Fox – NBC?
Eric German – uncertain of media relationship
Mike S – Associated Press
Dan Childs – ABC
Rosanna Shaw (sp?) – LA Times
Betsy McKay – Wall Street Journal
Matthew Zucker, Stucker (sp?) – CNN
Jody Tillman – Tampa Bay Times
Lenny Bernstein – Washington Post
Mike S from the Associated Press was the only one to ask what percentage of cases were in vaccinated individuals. Mr. Bernstien was the only one to ask what percentage of those who contracted measles during this outbreak have personal beliefs exemptions. However, NO ONE asked for the statistics about how many cases are in fully vaccinated individuals, partially vaccinated individuals, and unvaccinated individuals. Dr. Shuchat did not answer either Mike S or Mr. Berstein’s questions. Betsy McKay from WSJ did say she thought that at least 13% of the cases are in vaccinated individuals but Dr. Schuchat could not confirm or elaborate on that.
Most other questions asked were so boring and unimportant I had trouble staying awake. It was hard for me to believe that the people asking them are journalists. Many seemed concerned with where the fourteen cases not associated with Disneyland came from. A few seemed very concerned with the fact that exemptions exist and Dan Childs from ABC flat out asked if non medical exemptions should even be allowed. Dr. Schuchat made it a point to say that medical exemptions are essential, especially for children with leukemia and other cancers, but didn’t answer his question about whether or not personal beliefs and religious exemptions should be allowed.
These are the questions that I would have asked had I been allowed:
·         How many of the 84 cases are in people who are fully vaccinated? Partially vaccinated? Not vaccinated? You can’t just say “most” are in unvaccinated people. What constitutes most?
·         Have all 84 cases been laboratory confirmed?
·         What is the genotype for those laboratory confirmed? Wild type measles or vaccine strain?
·         Why aren’t recently vaccinated children who are shedding measles virus kept home until they are no longer shedding?
·         How many deaths from measles have occured in the United States in the past decade?
·         There were 644 cases of measles in the US in 2014 (432 depending on the source). Why is an outbreak of 84 cases, 67 associated with Disneyland, so alarming and concerning?
·         Why aren’t the numbers in the MMWR consistent with what the media and you, Dr. Schuchat, reporting? Currently it shows 3 cases for 2015.
·         How can you say you are certain that this outbreak has nothing to do with vaccine failure and at the same time either not know or not give the statistical breakdown on how many cases are in vaccinated individuals?
·         If vaccine coverage rates are high, as you said they are, then why is everyone pointing at those who don’t vaccinate?
·         If the MMR vaccine is highly effective, then why did you state that this outbreak is consistent for a highly effective vaccine and that it should be expected to see some cases in vaccinated people? And again, how many of those infected have been fully vaccinated?
·         In light of William Thompson’s findings and admissions, why wouldn’t parents be afraid to give their child MMR vaccine at 12 months? The covered up increased risk had everything to do with the timing of that particular dose of that particular vaccine.
Had there been any real journalist on this conference call, perhaps some of these questions would have been asked.
Overall, there seemed to be a focus on that everyone needs to be vaccinated, the vaccine is great, the vaccine is perfectly safe and super effective and that parents need to be educated on this disease because it CAN be serious. Statistics were almost absent from the entire conversation and when pressed for any, Dr. Schuchat just said they don’t have that information right now. There was also a very clear undertone about exemptions being problematic, despite any statistics or evidence being given to support that concern. Dr. Schuchat was overly emphatic that everyone needs to go get MMR vaccines right now, regardless of age or prior disease history. “It doesn’t hurt anything to just get the vaccine”.
They gave a main media hotline at the end for questions 404-639-3286 and said that transcripts of this conference call will be available at The call was also recorded but they said nothing about that being made available.

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