Limits of Knowledge on Measles Death Rates vs. Death Rates from Measles Vaccines

Europe is experiencing a measles outbreak.  So far, there have been 41,000 cases, with 37 deaths attributed to measles infection. That gives a risk of mortality rate in the measles-infected of (37/41000)=0.00090243902.

That’s pretty small, about 9 per 1,000 infections but it is also 90/100,000.

VAERS is a vaccine adverse events database that captures as low as 1% of all adverse events due to* vaccines.  Over ten years, VAERS captured 108 deaths due to* the measles vaccine; over the same time period, CDC reported zero deaths from measles infection (in the highly vaccinated population).

There were 19,000,000 children in the US in 2017  between the ages and 0 and 4.  MMR (or MMRV) is given at 12 to 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years.  So multiply 19,000,000 by 2 to get the number of doses of MMR/MMRV: 38,000,000.  Assume 95% vaccination uptake, as we’re told, it can be estimated that 36,100,000 doses were given ages 0 to 6.  Multiply 36,100,000 by 10 (ten years) and we have 361,000,000 doses.  Multiple 108 by 100 (recall VAERS captures as low as 1%) and we have 10,800 (!) deaths per ten years from the measles vaccine.


That leads to 0.0000299168 death rate (per dose) from MMR/MMRV vaccines is 2.99168/100K.

From this it can be estimated that there is a 301% increased risk of mortality from measles infection compared to measles vaccine – assuming VAERS only capture 1% of serious adverse events ((0.00090243902/0.00000299168 (infection/vaccine)  = 301.64). That is, of course, assuming that all 37 deaths were due to measles infection, and not something else.

Historical Measles Death Rates

There are also also historical statistics; for example, here’s a report for the State of Massachusetts from 1856-1956:


These historical data lead to an average 100-year risk of death from measles infection at 0.000137765 for the entire population (infected or not; 13.77 per 100K).  This leads to a 46-fold increased risk of death from measles infection compared to measles vaccination considering just the measles vaccinated population.

However, considering population-wide rates of vaccine-related deaths, vaccinated or not, the rate of measles vaccine-related death is only 0.0000028421 (0.28421 per 100,000), leading to a 48.47-fold increase of death due to measles infection compared to measles vaccine injection.

Easing the Symptoms of Measles

It should be noted that currently vitamin supplementation provides amelioration of symptoms of measles infection, especially Vitamin A, and modern medicine has advantages, including intravenous hydration for diarrhea and antibiotics for treating some types of secondary pneumonia.

Unmeasured Cost of Vaccination: Loss of Maternal Antibodies

Measles vaccines do not confer lifelong protection; this means that infants today do not receive passive immunization from antibodies provided to them in their mothers’ breast milk. Historically, the infant rate of measles infection was likely much less.

A CDC resource provides an estimate of 450-500 deaths from measles per year, prior to 1963 per yr estimate (here), 450-500 deaths/yr given 500,000 infections, or a guestimated rate of 0.001.  This gives an 354-fold increased risk of death from measles infection compared to measles vaccines (all caveats apply).

Unreliability of VAERS Data

VAERS is a passive collection system into which doctors or the public can report vaccine adverse events.  While VAERS reporting by doctors is mandatory for all vaccine injuries and deaths, there are no penalties for failing to report.

The data in VAERS are basically considered useless.  Consider this passage from Miller et al. (2015):

“However, making general assumptions and drawing conclusions about vaccinations causing deaths based on spontaneous reports to VAERS – some of which might be anecdotal or second-hand – or case reports in the media, is not a scientifically valid practice.”

All studies based on VAERS, supportive of general vaccine safety or pointing to risk are likely unreliable.


According to CDC, the risk of seizure following MMR or MMRV is

1375 seizures/712497 doses = 0.0019298 per dose, or about 1.9 per thousand exposures.

The risk of seizure following measles infection is quoted as “less than 1 per 1,000“.


Without mandatory, active tracking of vaccine injuries and fatalities with significant penalties for non-reporting, the currently available data are insufficient to know the relative risks of death due to measles vaccination and due to measles infection.

A third option, development of effective treatments for measles, should be funded to avoid both types of risks.

*”Due to” is in quotes because VAERS is not a reliable source of information on causality, per CDC.  The best we can do is say the events (vaccines, deaths) share an appropriate temporal relationship.  Because VAERS is biased, and entries are unreliable, all studies of patterns in VAERS that exonerate vaccines, or find fault with vaccines, are suspect.


Miller, ER, 2015. Deaths following vaccination: What does the evidence show? Vaccine. 2015 Jun 26; 33(29): 3288–3292.

(!) Thank you for catching the typo, dlfeist, 108 x 10 is, indeed, still 10,800.


4 thoughts on “Limits of Knowledge on Measles Death Rates vs. Death Rates from Measles Vaccines

  1. I am on your side, FIRMLY, but there are some errors in your “set up” math, the most glaring is multiplying 108 by 100 equals 10,800, not 1080. There are a couple of other issues that are simply not comprehensible in the given context but I very much like the direction you are taking this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for your breakdown. It raises more questions for me.

    “Europe is experiencing a measles outbreak. So far, there have been 41,000 cases, with 37 deaths attributed to measles infection. That gives a risk of mortality rate in the measles-infected of (37/41000)=0.00090243902.

    That’s pretty small, about 9 per 1,000 infections but it is also 90/100,000.”

    As you allude to, in terms of using the figure to help assess PERSONAL risk or that of another KNOWN individual, it seems we need more information.

    Wouldn’t we need to know:

    What percentage of those who died were unvaccinated because they were under the age for vaccination?
    What percentage of those who died were deficient in Vitamin A or undernourished in general?
    What percentage of those who died had co-morbid conditions?
    What percentage of those who died were vaccinated in any way?
    What percentage of those who died were vaccinated for the measles?
    What percentage of those who died got appropriate medical care?

    Is this information available publicly? If not, why not? If so, where can it be found? It’s not reliably appearing in news stories.

    Is it helpful to make sweeping population wide claims about risk from disease based solely on morbidity/mortality numbers when such co-factors are never mentioned? In this context or others?

    We have spent the last fifty years focusing on prevention of infection via vaccination with its attendant undermining of maternal conferred immunity, and shifting of vulnerability to babies and older people. I often ponder where we would be right now if, we had instead put that colossal amount of money into the project of reducing measles MORBIDITY/MORTALITY through developing a better understanding of co-factors that would lead to susceptibility to complications/death in the first place, or as you say, the “development of effective treatments for measles”. Would we be in a better place right now?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There are a lot of things here that we don’t know. Measles reporting has become political so we always need to question the numbers and try to understand how they come up with them.
    The media gave us different numbers depending on the source. In one case there weren’t significantly more cases than in many others years in the past decade.
    In another case they reported that 50% of cases were in the Ukraine which had vaccination rates below 50% which had nothing to do with anti-vaccinators however.
    Depending on how you define Europe you will get a different number of cases and depending on how you define a measles case and how they are reported you might give different numbers.
    some questions would be:
    Has the way how they report cases changed?
    Have they added countries?
    Where are the cases coming from?
    Are the increases in countries that vaccinate less?
    What are the reasons for the increase?
    How did cases fluctuate historically?
    Can reporting be influenced by the media and other biases? (Self-fulfilling prophecy)


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