A new study (‘Measles transmission from an anthroposophical community to the general population …’) on a measles outbreak in Germany and Austria in 2008 has been published in June. I find it rather interesting in the light of recent debates and previous blog posts. From the discussion section:
Our investigation showed, that introduction of measles virus into a pocket of susceptible persons like the students of the anthroposophic school in Salzburg city provoked an outbreak and was followed by further spread to the general population with a vaccination coverage below the WHO recommended level.
They discuss why parents choose to not vaccinate, and seem to believe that increased knowledge about the safety of vaccines would change people’s attitudes. However, as (at least some of) these parents are anthroposophists, information about vaccine safety may not be sufficient to convince them. For non-anthroposophist waldorf parents, it may have an impact, though. It is also mentioned that health care providers should inform parents about the benefits of vaccination. But if parents consult anthroposophical doctors, this may not happen; anthroposophical doctors are not always positively inclined towards childhood vaccination… The study recommends awareness campaigns — but why would that help, if those, who are supposed to be made aware, already hold convictions which are (more or less) incompatible with vaccination? Such as a belief that disease is good and even necessary for spiritual reasons? From the conclusions:
This outbreak investigation shows that once the measles virus has found its way into a low-immunized population like an anthroposophic community, the general population – if having vaccination coverage below the WHO recommended level, such as in Bavaria – is at risk of measles outbreaks.
As an aside, I noted an ironic but trivial thing: ‘The National Reference Centre for Measles, Mumps and Rubella in Berlin (NRC) used the Enzygnost Anti-Measles Virus IgM ELISA (Siemens, Germany) for the detection of anti-measles IgM in serum.’ [My emphasis.]