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 »20 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.


  4. Ms. Papple,
    Could you please site the references for these statements.


  5. As a little girl, I had measles, mumps, chicken pox, and also rubella. All within a 2 year period. I spent a lot of time home sick from school. But I survived. As did all of my friends who contracted the same diseases in the 1960’s before immunizations.

    I am also much of the opinion that the tragic deaths that did occur were not solely due to the viruses, but underlying disease as well. Malnutrition and all of the problems that accompany that were biggies in the Southern US at that time.


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  8. I had measles, mumps, chicken pox, german measles as did all my friends, neighbors and relatives in the 50s not one of us had any complications or lasting problems. I also assumed that the children who had serious complications as well as those who died had other medical problems or were malnourished


  9. Thank you for these helpful graphs! I was born in 1952 – one of five children all born between 1947 and 1957. Like some of the comments above, we all had measles, mumps, chicken pox, german measles, as did our cousins, friends, classmates, etc. and all recovered without complications. It was just a normal part of childhood back then. I do remember that my mom made us take cod liver oil regularly. Mom was instinctively very wise and we also had a pediatrician named Dr. Fish! When I was preparing to have my third daughter in 1988 and the vaccine schedule was on the rise, I began to do my own research on the pros and cons of “routine” vaccines. Part of my research included talking with older moms who raised their children in the pre-vaccine area. The consensus was that although it kept the moms and kids in the house for a while — especially in cases like ours where two would get the illness, followed by the next two and then the fifth child — it really wasn’t a big deal and our moms were not afraid of these illnesses. While parents of today are conditioned to be terrified of the once routine acute childhood diseases which came with the side benefit of lifelong immunity; traditional medicine has conditioned today’s parents to accept the chronic childhood diseases of ear infections, allergies, ADD/ADHD, Asthma, Autism, etc., and the drugs to treat them — which come with lifelong side effects — as the new “normal”.


    • Jeanette: Thank-you for your comment. I also had a mom who made us take cod liver oil, along with vitamin C and kelp.
      I applaud your proactive stance regarding the “routine” vaccines, and completely agree with your observations on the complacency and acceptance of chronic illness in children as “the new normal.” Vaccinations have destroyed our kids immune systems and robbed them of the right to strengthen and develop immunity by fighting off childhood illnesses.


      • Marcella, thank for your reply to my comment as well as to Tom Blooms’s. I completely agree with you in that, “Those who have weakened immune systems, other ailments, or are malnourished need things like improved nutrition, improved sanitation and clean water.”

        It’s not easy to be a parent, but as parents, it is our responsibility to be informed — to learn as much as we can about the pros and cons when it comes to vaccines, foods, exposure to toxins, medical treatments and anything that affects the health of our children — and then we should have the right to choose what we truly believe is best for our children.

        Recently, I heard Paul Offiit, MD say in a video, with regard to parents who choose not to vaccinate, that, “some parents don’t do what’s best for their children.” What an awful statement!!!

        My older daughters, born in 1978 and 1980 received the handful of vaccines that were recommended at that time. To be honest, I hadn’t done any research back then. I just did what the doctor said was best for my children and thought, “Wow, I won’t have to deal with what my mother did!” I should have known better . . . those routine childhood diseases of yesteryear actually had some benefits that I enjoy having had the natural illnesses, but my daughters do not.

        As I wrote in my previous message, when I was pregnant with my youngest in 1988 and vaccines were on the rise, I started my research — not to prove that vaccines were harmful — but to make an informed choice either way and do what was truly best for my baby. I can still remember how painful and disturbing it was to learn from that research which included “mainstream” and “alternative” sources about the adverse effects of vaccines; about the incredibly sad stories of children that had been seriously harmed from vaccines; and, keep in mind, that was before we had the epidemics of Autism, Allergies, Asthma, ADD/ADHD that we have today. In addition, when my older daughters were vaccinated, I had been led to believe that vaccines offered lifelong immunity to Pertussis, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, etc. It wasn’t until years later that we heard, “oops” the immunity doesn’t last . . . “looks like we need booster shots.” As a result of all that research, which continues to this day, I made different choices for my youngest daughter.

        With all due respect, Tom, vaccines are not “extremely low risk.” If they were, and diseases could safely be eliminated, I doubt that parents would oppose them. No mother wants to see her child — or any child — suffer or die; and I’m sure most mothers don’t want to be confined to the house while their children are sick! The parents that I know who oppose vaccines are educated, well informed, loving, caring people who only want the truth and what is best for children — all children. They are people who have done their homework on these issues before making their decision. I know from personal experience that it is not easy to make a choice that goes against against mainstream opinion, “authorities” and conventional medicine.

        I now find myself in a situation where my youngest daughter — now 25 — must submit to vaccines for MMR and Tetanus to start law school on a part time basis. She will not be living on campus or in a dormitory, but attending class 4 hours a night, 4 nights per week with about 35 adult students — she is probably one of the youngest. The school is in an urban setting very close to the office in which she currently works. If she takes more than 12 credits, which she may have to do next year, she will be required to have a Hep B shot as well. Up until now, we were considered “exempt” for philosophical reasons which were honored in the same way as a religious exemption; however, philosophical exemptions are being eliminated at the state level and it appears that religious and even medical exemptions are being compromised. Anyone concerned about the elimination of our right to choose should go to http://www.nvic.org/NVIC-Vaccine-News/May-2014/NVIC-Calls-for-Vaccine-Policy—Law-Reform–To-Pro.aspx, watch the video, download the guide to “Reforming Vaccine Policy and Law” and learn about the NVIC Advocacy Portal.

        If anyone has experience with an adult child being forced to get vaccines, I would appreciate your input. Thank you very much! God bless all the young children and adult children — vaccinated or not — and the parents who love them.


  10. It is interesting that people here seem to write off the fact that it is “only” those who have weakened immune systems, had other ailments, or were malnourished who died. I guess having an extremely low risk way to prevent children from dying is not worth thinking about if it only saves poor kids. I am not sure why people would be so arrogantly flippant about the prevention of such diseases as measles, rubella, polio, rabies, small pox, and tetanus (all seriously dangerous diseases whose ill effects have been greatly reduced or eradicated by vaccination); I think it is, ironically, that the reduction brought about by vaccination has given people a comfort zone where they do not feel such things a threat and can thus poo-poo the value of vaccines. In 1980, prior to the worldwide prevalence of a cheap and available measles vaccine worldwide, there were 2.6 million deaths due to measles; widespread vaccination has reduced this to 122,000 in 2012. Hey but we’re talking about 6 billion people on earth, so who cares about 2.5 million additional preventable deaths each year, especially since they are mostly poor kids, and people with other health problems, right?


    • Those who have weakened immune systems, other ailments, or are malnourished need things like improved nutrition, improved sanitation and clean water. They certainly should not be vaccinated, as it clearly states on the vaccine-manufacturer’s inserts.
      You are incorrect on many levels. For example, tetanus is a bacterial illness that is not transmittable from human-to-human. There is also no evidence that the vaccine does anything to protect against tetanus. Actually, there is no evidence vaccines have had ANY effect on the eradication of illness. If you look at the graphs for diseases in developed countries, all of them have decreased in morbidity and mortality at very similar rates, regardless of whether or not there is a corresponding vaccine. In all cases, for those illnesses that do have a corresponding vaccine, the vaccine was developed and released at a very late state in the decline of incidence and severity. People who push vaccines often make the statement “correlation does not equal causation” when it comes to vaccines and autism. You can’t have it both ways. If you believe vaccines have eradicated illness, prove it. Correlation does not equal causation. And for the record… smallpox was absolutely not eradicated by vaccination. Smallpox was endemic world-wide for centuries, dating back to at least the time of the pharaohs in Egypt. Less than 10% of the world’s population was vaccinated against smallpox. If, as vaccinators claim, we have to have 90-95% vaccine-coverage to eradicate disease and to keep it from coming back, please explain how vaccines could have possibly stopped smallpox. Also, since we now know that the pertussis vaccine wears off in 3-5 years’ time, and since at least 50% of the population (adults) walking around have not been vaccinated in decades and we have not had huge resurgence of whooping cough (except in cases where the vaccine is spreading it by promoting colonization of B. parapertussis in the lungs of recipients), how exactly does that fit in with the concept of “herd-immunity?” It doesn’t, because there is no such thing as “vaccine-induced herd immunity.” Herd immunity is a concept that is only applicable to naturally-acquired immunity. If you want me to believe there is such a thing as “vaccine-induced herd immunity,” please show me the research article(s) that prove it.


  11. Tom, how long have you been alive? I’m in my mid-fifties. Virtually everyone I knew growing up had measles, mumps, and chicken pox. It was very rare not to. I have lived for 54 years without meeting ONE SINGLE PERSON who has ever mentioned any long term detrimental effects from one of these diseases, nor have they mentioned knowing anyone with long term detrimental effects. My life experience is not a peer reviewed medical study, but if these are so dangerous, why are deaths, complications, or any effect whatsoever so unknown among people alive during the era of these illnesses being a normal part of childhood?

    Polio crippled people and some died from paralyzed muscles involved in breathing. Pertussis killed the toddler daughter of one of my great-aunts, without her having any weaknesses or risk factors. It still kills some people, although it’s a tiny fraction of those who get it. Smallpox scarred people, caused blindness, and had a fairly high mortality rate. It makes sense to vaccinate for these disease, because they can be dangerous. (However, there are documented dangers with the vaccines, as well as evidence that vaccines are either no longer needed, weren’t the cause of the decline of these illnesses, etc. discussed elsewhere.)

    Measles, mumps, and chicken pox don’t belong in the same category as these diseases. Calling these “dangerous” is being melodramatic.

    In addition, your insinuation that people against vaccinations don’t care about poor people also misses the mark. People of all socioeconomic levels develop other ailments, have compromised immune systems, and those with anorexia have self-induced malnutrition.


  12. My doctor just started shouting at me and telling me my daughter is going to kill other children if i dont get her immunised….


    • Please find another doctor.


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