The California-based nonprofit organization, Physicians for Informed Consent (PIC), recently responded to an article in the BMJ that every year about 5,700 U.S. children suffer seizures from the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.
This finding is derived from results of the most statistically powered safety study ever to measure the association between MMR vaccination and febrile seizures. More than half a million children were evaluated, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, from a Danish population that is relied upon globally to examine vaccine safety. The results showed that seizures from the MMR vaccine occur in about 1 in 640 children up to two weeks following MMR vaccination. Applying this risk of seizures to the 3.64 million U.S. children vaccinated with a first dose of MMR every year results in about 5,700 annual MMR-vaccine seizures.
“To make accurate and ethical public health decisions, the risks of a vaccine must be compared to the risks of the disease one is trying to prevent,” said Dr. Shira Miller, PIC president and founder. “When considering the MMR vaccine to prevent measles, the risks of the MMR vaccine need to be compared to the risks of measles.”
There is a five-fold higher risk of seizures from the MMR vaccine than seizures from measles, and a significant portion of MMR-vaccine seizures cause permanent harm. For example, 5% of febrile seizures result in epilepsy, a chronic brain disorder that leads to recurring seizures. Annually, about 300 MMR-vaccine seizures (5% of 5,700) will lead to epilepsy.
Furthermore, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), designed to be a warning system for identifying vaccine side effects, receives only about 90 annual reports of MMR-vaccine seizures following the first dose—only 1.6% of the 5,700 MMR-vaccine seizures that actually occur. Thus, other serious vaccine adverse events from MMR, including permanent neurological harm and death, may similarly be underreported.
“In the United States, measles is generally a benign, short-term viral infection; 99.99% of measles cases fully recover,” said Dr. Miller. “As it has not been proven that the MMR vaccine is safer than measles, there is insufficient evidence to demonstrate that mandatory measles mass vaccination results in a net public health benefit in the United States.”