a caged woman

Being vaccinated does not mean you’re immune

“My field, the field of immunology, the basic field, the one that is responsible for all these theories of immunity… we don’t really deal with the real world. We do research in labs. We are sort of an ivory tower profession, and we don’t even read these [kind of general scientific] publications, because this is too far away from our field. We only read what’s specific to our research, and usually it’s immunization and how antibodies are generated and all the details of the immune responses,

I went through my whole PhD training, and I believed that vaccines give you immunity, and that if you got vaccines that there’s absolutely no way, virtually no way, that you would get a disease. And I’m pretty sure that most of my colleagues, in my narrow field, believed the same way… and we had conversations about that. And even someone, at some point, mentioned to me and said that they had a vaccine and they got measles, and I sort of brushed it aside and thought this person is confused. It was either she didn’t have the vaccine or it wasn’t measles… one of the two.

But what happened is that a few years ago, I had to apply for American citizenship, and part of the procedure is to submit your vaccination records. And this was the first time that I looked at my own vaccination records carefully, and I discovered that I had two measles vaccines in my childhood. What I remember really well is that when I was 11, I had measles, and so that was a little bit harder to discount. And recently I told someone else [about this] and they said, oh you are confused about that… you didn’t have measles. How do you know? Did you check really the virus?

The doctors diagnosed it. I lived in the Ukraine, and there there was tons of measles around and doctors knew when they saw measles. Anyway, so the reason I had to look for these [scientific] papers is to confirm to myself whether I’m confused about my measles, or is this a general phenomenon that is happening and is documented in the literature. And indeed it is documented in the literature. But immunologists don’t know about it.”

— Dr. Tetyana Obukhanych, immunologist

One example of many examples of measles outbreaks involving mostly vaccinated communities was the outbreak in Quebec, Canada in 2011.

“[The Quebec outbreak was] imported by a high-school teacher, himself vaccinated against measles in his childhood. This single importation affected [more than] 600 people, starting with high-school students. The affected community had 95-97% measles vaccination coverage and no concentrated pockets of unvaccinated groups. The overall contribution of twice-vaccinated individuals constituted 48% of measles cases. The proportion of twice-vaccinated individuals among measles cases increased with age (~4% in the 5-9 age group, ~18% in the 10-14 age group, and ~22% in the 15-19 age group). The outbreak affected 21 infants.”

— Dr. Tetyana Obukhanych, immunologist (citing De Serres et al. 2012)

Courtesy: The Outliers


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