Putting Measles Into Perspective

By Guest Writer Dawn Babcock Papple, writer for Everything Birth (www.everythingbirth.com


Before the MMR vaccine, measles was at epidemic proportions. Before the vaccine, the US had 3-4 million cases of measles! That’s insane! Thank goodness for vaccines.

The end.

Aw, now you didn’t think I’d let vaccines get off  THAT easy did you?

Prior to the vaccine, 3-4 million cases of measles occured in the United States each year. <—True.

Also true, however, is that of those 3-4 million cases, only about 450 people died each year from it in the years before the vaccine.

That still seems like a lot? Instead of running out to make sure your vaccinations are up to date, how about a shot of perspective instead?

In the screen shot below, I have figured out the percentage of people who died from measles of all of the measles cases back then.  0.015%.  Suddenly, measles seems a little less scary doesn’t it? The CDC claims that around 1 or 2 out of a thousand people who get measles will die from measles. Their math doesn’t add up though. I guess they use the term “about” lightly.

measles vaccination statistics


Also, consider that in 1963, the population was 189,241,798. That means that prior to the vaccine, the percentage of the entire US population that died from measles was .000237%. (Remember this figure, because it will be important in about two paragraphs.)

Now, if you read the little excerpt above, you might be scared, because even with vaccines, the global death count for children from measles is 197,000 in the stats above!  That’s a scare tactic and it makes me mad. First of all, it wasn’t 197,000 children. It was 197,000 people and some of them were children.

Then the excerpt above goes on to talk about present day figures. There are over 6 billion people on the planet. That’s shown as  6,000,000,000 numerically. Correct me if you disagree, but when over 150,000 people die each day total,  is 540 people dying of measles each day really that outrageous?  They’re counting on us not comprehending the vast population of our global society. 240,000 children in low income countries alone die each year of neonatal infection. 1.26 million people die each year from diabetes and yet they’re still pushing the high fructose corn syrup in school lunches.

With vaccines, the US went from a .000237 PERCENT death rate  among the general population from measles in 1963 to a 0.000000% measles death rate. It’s a different story around the world though (as the WHO points out to scare the crap out of you.) Currently, around 197,000 people die each year from measles… out of 6 billion. Want to know percent that equals? The calculator showed: 3.28e-5.

***pencil scratches on paper, moving the decimal point to the left five places because of the -e***


***calculator clicking***

Which brings the percentage of people who die globally from measles today to:

0.00328%. (Remember when I told you to remember that figure above?)

0.000237% < 0.00328%

So, comparing the two figures, as a country, we Americans did better in 1963 at not dying from measles than the general population of the world is doing RIGHT NOW.

But in fairness to vaccines, when compared to our own progress as a country, we no longer have that .0002% of our population dying of measles. Right?

But I digress, let’s compare measles death rates in 1963 to other death rates in 1963.

In 1963, there were about 450 deaths from measles. Meanwhile, about 12,000 people died from stomach ulcers and the likes.  Just over 43,000 people died from car accidents in 1963. Over 700,000 people died from heart disease.

In 1963, you were more likely to be one of the 9200 people murdered that year than to die of measles. If you were born in 1963, you were more likely to die from a congenital disease than from measles. In 1963, it was about 46 times more likely for a child to die from a congenital malformation than for someone to die from the measles.

Frankly, in 1963, you were about 46 times more likely to kill yourself than you were to die from measles.




And at any rate, and I just know this makes pro-vax people upset to hear, measles was already declining prior to the vaccination. The US graphs you can find indicate a huge visual decline, but the way the numbers are set up in the vertical axis is misleading.  Check out how the axis representing the difference between 0 and 1 is represented by the same space as the difference between 2 and 20? I highlighted it in yellow for you.  Another vaccine awareness group added the dotted red line, but I think that the vertical axis manipulation is even more crucial. So, visually, it looks like a huge decline after the vaccine was introduced:

Unfortunately, finding the specific numbers per year has proved challenging for me, but thankfully, I found a similar graph (similar numbers, but unofficial source) that has not included an exponentially growing vertical axis so that you can see the trend in declining measles rates prior to and including after the vaccine introduction more accurately:


See that tiny blip right around 1967? That’s when vaccines “drastically” reduced measles deaths.


Well, as early as 1932, doctors began using cod-liver oil (high in vitamin A) to treat measles and ended up lowering the mortality rate significantly.  In 1990, the New England Journal of Medicine confirmed that vitamin A supplements significantly reduce measles complications and death rates.  It would be interesting to know what kind of impact essential oils such as oil of oregano with antiviral qualities or better yet, homeopathy, would have had on measles as well. At the very least though, you don’t have to stress as much, 0.015%mortality rate among measles infected people is just not very scary.

Not nearly as scary as the monster under the bed.

Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System 
1-800-922-7967 or

National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program
1-800-338-2382 or

Add a comment »7 comments to this article

  1. A friend recently pointed out that the majority of the 450 to 500 deaths were in the South and probably involved poor rural children who were malnourished and living under miserable conditions. Developing world conditions in fact.

    I think the declining rate of measles in your chart is inaccurate. What you are showing is that reported cases of measles were declining. However, the serological evidence seems to show that 95% or more of the population who were children before the measles vaccine came into use ended up immune to measles. This makes sense, of course, if a child has a mild case of measles, it isn’t likely to be reported. It is even possible that some children developed immunity without showing clear symptoms, so they weren’t even diagnosed, much less reported.

    Good article!


    • Thank you so much for this. This really puts it in perspective quite well. not to mention that by people obtaining natural immunity to the disease and creating a natural herd immunity may have led to the decline as well, definately NOT the vaccines. Thank you for your hard work, it is very much appreciated!


      • sorry to reply to your post I cannot seem to add a new response?
        Anyway, what are your thoughts on SSPE?
        Also its not only death whcih concerns me as I know that risk is low, its the much higher risk of blindness, deafness, brain damage, meningitis etc??? those rates are much higher are they no?
        Thanks :)


        • I wonder how many have died or had zero quality of life from the MMR vax?


          • I am not interested in imagining or wondering or maybe only facts.. SSPE is a huge concern.

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  3. You have addressed the issue of measles using the figures that you have available and in a way there is no choice. However, how many of the cases of measles in the US or worldwide are in fact measles. Studies have been done demonstrating that when ‘measles’ cases diagnosed by doctors are laboratory tested the majority are caused by other viruses and not measles at all. As soon as a vaccine is introduced, e.g. polio, the doctors decide that symptoms that previously were one disease must be another.(e.g. aseptic meningitis). We have to work with the statistics given in order to present a rational argument but often I wonder if we are not just playing with numbers which bear little relation to reality.


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