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Vaccinated Flight Attendant in Coma

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

vaccinated flight attendant in coma

Story at-a-glance -

  • Media outlets have featured a story about a 43-year-old flight attendant who’s been in a coma for days due to encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain, which is a rare complication of both measles and the MMR vaccine
  • While spinning the story as a reason to be very afraid of measles, and typically spreading the rhetoric that the best way to stay “safe” is to get vaccinated, it’s only mentioned in passing that the flight attendant had been vaccinated
  • In the U.S., the high MMR vaccination rate should theoretically ensure “herd immunity,” but outbreaks of measles keep occurring, which hints at vaccine failure
  • While some New Yorkers may be panicked at the thought of measles, a much more insidious and dangerous drug-resistant fungal health threat has emerged in the state, with little warning to the public
  • New York has had more than 300 cases of Candida auris in 2019 — more than any other state; the fungal superbug may be drug-resistant and can cause severe illness and death

In the midst of rising hysteria over measles outbreaks in the U.S., media outlets have featured a story about a 43-year-old flight attendant who's been in a coma for days due to encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain, which is a rare complication of both measles and the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine.

While spinning the story as a reason to be very afraid of measles, and typically spreading the rhetoric that the best way to stay "safe" is to get vaccinated, it's only mentioned in passing that the flight attendant had been vaccinated.1

"With fewer people getting vaccinated, measles is on the rise," Health noted,2 but clearly vaccinated people are also getting measles, so what's really going on?

Are Unvaccinated People Responsible for Spreading Measles?

As of April 26, 2019, 704 cases of measles were reported in the U.S. in 2019, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says is the greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since 1994.3

The media, as well as public health organizations, typically blame pockets of unvaccinated individuals for measles outbreaks in the U.S., but the percentage of people vaccinated with the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is actually very high.

In the 2013-2014 school year, almost 95 percent of U.S. children entering kindergarten had received two doses of MMR vaccine,4 as had 92 percent of school children ages 13 to 17 years.5 That high rate of vaccination for MMR among U.S. school children continues today.6

This high MMR vaccination rate should theoretically ensure "herd immunity," but outbreaks of both measles and mumps keep occurring, which hints at vaccine failure. One proposed solution is to introduce a third MMR vaccination as a "booster" dose at age 18. However, the fact remains that measles outbreaks continue to occur even in highly vaccinated populations.

The case of measles that reportedly occurred in a vaccinated flight attendant is one example. Others include a 2017 measles outbreak in a highly vaccinated military population in Israel, ranging in age from 19 to 37. The first two patients identified had both received two doses of measles vaccine. Patient zero, a 21-year-old soldier, had documentation of having received three doses of MMR vaccine.7

In another example, a 2014 study conducted in the Zhejiang province in China found that populations that have achieved a measles vaccination rate of 99 percent through mandatory vaccination programs are still experiencing consistent outbreaks far beyond what the World Health Organization expects.8

What's more, 93.6 percent of the 1,015 participants in this study tested seropositive for measles antibodies, which theoretically means they should have been protected against the disease. Measles has natural cyclical increases and decreases every few years in populations.

Booster MMR Dose Doesn't Lead to Increased, Long-Lasting Protection

The CDC currently recommends that children get two doses of MMR vaccine; the first dose is recommended between the ages of 12 and 15 months, and the second dose between 4 and 6 years. The second dose was recommended starting in 1989, "in response to instances of primary vaccine failure of one dose."9

Some may assume that two doses of MMR vaccine will give double the protection against measles, or at least boost the protection that the first dose provides, but this may be a misleading assumption.

The second dose is intended to produce immunity in the proportion of people who fail to respond to the first dose. It's said that more than 90 percent of people will achieve immunity when the first dose is given after the first birthday (the rate is lower, about 85 percent, if given at 9 months).

However, because measles is so highly contagious, the threshold for herd immunity may need to be as high as 94 percent. So the second MMR dose was recommended, which, according to a report in PLOS Medicine, "seroconverts more than 90% of those who fail to seroconvert after the first dose."10

While there is an assumption that getting a second "booster" dose of MMR will "boost" immunity to the diseases, this may or may not be the case. Provided a person has already responded to the first MMR vaccination, there is a question about whether a second or third dose will give a "boost" in vaccine-acquired immunity that is long-lasting.

According to the CDC, "Although some persons who develop normal antibody titers in response to a single dose of MMR vaccine will develop higher antibody titers to the three component vaccines when administered a second dose of vaccine, these increased antibody levels typically do not persist."11

In other words, if you already responded to the first MMR dose, getting a second (and perhaps third) will not typically give you any more or longer-lasting protection.

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Is Measles Really an Emergency?

The last recorded measles-associated death in the U.S. occurred in 2015, but even before the measles vaccine was licensed in 1963, measles resulted in roughly 450 to 500 deaths annually12 — about the same number dying from acetaminophen overdoses today.13

While acetaminophen and vaccines are different in that one is given to treat an infection and the other is intended to prevent it, deaths from either are tragic. Yet, you don't see public health emergencies being called over acetaminophen deaths.

Case in point: In April 2019, New York City declared a public health emergency due to a measles outbreak in Brooklyn and Queens, which involved just over 400 cases and zero deaths.14

Despite the clear lack of "emergency," this was then used as an impetus to implement mandatory MMR vaccination for people living in certain zip codes (11205, 11206, 11211, 11249) in the state. The Health Department went so far as to state that if a person with measles is identified in those zip codes, or an unvaccinated child is exposed to measles, a fine of $1,000 would be issued.15

And, this wasn't just an idle threat: By the end of April, New York City health officials had closed at least seven Jewish schools for failing to provide vaccination and attendance records of their students. The officials also issued summonses to 57 people for failing to abide by the order to vaccinate — with warnings that each one could be ordered to pay the fine.16

New York Covers Up Outbreaks in Hospitals, but Forces Vaccination for Measles — Public Interest or Medical Industry Influence?

While some New Yorkers may be panicked at the thought of measles, a much more insidious and dangerous health threat has emerged in the state, with little warning to the public. New York has had more than 300 cases of Candida auris in 2019 — more than any other state. The fungal superbug may be drug-resistant and can cause severe illness and death. 17

Candida auris spreads in health care facilities, both from patient to patient and contaminated surfaces or medical equipment, but alerts haven't been issued to let people know which hospitals have outbreaks occurring, which would allow patients to make informed decisions about where to receive care. The New York Times tells the tale of a man admitted to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York who died after 90 days.

Tests showed C. auris was everywhere in his room, so special equipment was brought in to clean it. Some of the ceiling and floor tiles were even ripped out. The hospital president commented:18

"Everything was positive — the walls, the bed, the doors, the curtains, the phones, the sink, the whiteboard, the poles, the pump. The mattress, the bed rails, the canister holes, the window shades, the ceiling, everything in the room was positive."

Unfortunately, despite the CDC's admission that the fungus is particularly virulent and dangerous, they have collaborated with U.S. hospitals to maintain confidentiality.

Meanwhile, New York has taken to forcing vaccination for measles, which has not caused any deaths, but continues to hide which hospitals have outbreaks of C. auris — an important bit of potentially lifesaving knowledge for someone choosing where to have elective surgery or other medical procedures.

Is MMR Vaccine Safer Than Measles?

Measles can cause serious complications for some individuals, such as pneumonia and encephalitis. In rare cases, it can cause death, particularly in people who are vitamin A deficient or live in an underdeveloped country where there is substandard nutrition and a lack of basic access to health care and sanitation.

In the U.S., in fact, before the measles vaccine was licensed in 1963 and recommended for children, most children got measles before the age of 10. The number of measles cases may have been far underreported, and it's likely that about 3.5 million children or more (an entire birth cohort) may have been infected in the U.S. annually, with 380 measles-related deaths reported in 1960, three years before the vaccine was licensed.19

The disease was not feared the way it is today; it was considered a normal part of childhood — and was one that provided lifelong immunity. Unfortunately, with the waning effectiveness of MMR vaccine, protection is not lifelong, leaving older adults potentially vulnerable.

Authors of one study in The Lancet Infectious Diseases reported that when measles infection is delayed, negative outcomes are 4.5 times worse "than would be expected in a prevaccine era in which the average age at infection would have been lower."20

In the majority of cases, measles infection resolves on its own without complications. It also must be acknowledged that vaccines do carry risks, including those that can cause permanent disability and death.

The U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) has revealed that approximately $4 billion has been paid out to vaccine-injured victims since 1988,21 and the fact remains that adequate safety studies have not been conducted.

"For example," Dr. K. Paul Stoller, fellow, American College of Hyperbaric Medicine, wrote in Acta Scientific Paediatrics, "it has not been proven that the MMR vaccine is safer than measles," continuing:22

"The nonprofit organization Physicians for Informed Consent (PIC) recently reported in The BMJ that every year an estimated 5,700 U.S. children (approximately 1 in 640 children) suffer febrile seizures from the first dose of the MMR vaccine — which is five times more than the number of seizures expected from measles.23

This amounts to 57,000 febrile seizures over the past 10 years due to the MMR vaccine alone. And, as five percent of children with febrile seizures progress to epilepsy, the estimated number of children develop epilepsy due to the MMR vaccine, in the past 10 years, is 2,850."