The Unintended Consequences

The Unintended Consequences

 All Actions Have Consequences

by Dr. Andrew Pugliese

I had a great response to an article I posted on Twitter that is on ABC News about a Pediatrician that went before Congress regarding the need to vaccinate because his son had been exposed to measles while fighting Leukemia.

@220Amoma4 As the mother of a medically frail child who can’t receive any live vaccines, I can relate. I understand those who feel vaccines are being forced on them, I do. Today’s outbreaks are clear we need help to save lives.

What we’re seeing here are the unintended consequences of not vaccinating children for highly communicable childhood illnesses.  The biggest problem that we’re facing is increasing worldwide travel and we’re actually seeing what epidemiologists were concerned about 30 years ago, which was as travel became more accessible, pandemics (worldwide epidemics) would become more likely.

When enough parents elect not to vaccinate their children today, and the likelihood of them being exposed to other children from other countries increases, it is easy to see how what is happening today is occurring.  The probability of the outbreaks occurring increase as more and more parents elect not to vaccinate their children.  In the past, parents who elected not to vaccinate their children were safe because over 95% of the other parents did vaccinate their children.  However, with the growing popularity of parents not vaccinating their children, based on a lack of understanding that when the number of children vaccinated falls below 92%, this is where the risk of epidemics begins.

In San Francisco, officials are concerned that tens of thousands of people have now been exposed to measles due to one infected individual who traveled for three days on the Bay Area’s rapid transit system with active measles.  How many people will develop measles will be directly proportional to the number of people who are not immune to measles that were exposed.

Other unintended consequences of not vaccinating children occur as they become teenagers and young adults.  If unvaccinated, when these young adults travel or become exposed to measles or other illnesses, such as mumps and rubella, they will have no immunity to these diseases.  Young adult males who develop mumps can become sterile.  Pregnant women with no immunity to rubella run the risk of having miscarriages or stillbirths.  Also, it should be pointed out that the fetuses of mothers infected with rubella run the risk of giving birth to children with birth defects such as hearing loss, heart disease, and cataracts.

As I have said before, there are many people alive today that would have been dead fifty years ago, and this is due to the great advancements of medical technology over the last century.  It would be a shame to be able to beat cancer or some other potentially life-threatening illness, only to succumb to some easily preventable illness because parents refuse to vaccinate their children and run the risk of causing unforeseen consequences for their children later in life based on fear and a lack of understanding.  No system is perfect and many parents today are unaware of the devastation of childhood outbreaks of yesteryear, but as we are seeing, the probability is against us when we don’t vaccinate.

By | 2019-04-06T14:54:58-04:00 February 22nd, 2018|Infectious Disease|

About the Author:

I am a passionate blogger, author, speaker and 3X Board Certified MD in Infectious Disease, Internal & Sleep Medicine. I currently am an infectious disease physician in Atlanta, GA for Infectious Disease Consultants.


  1. Avatar
    joseph muita May 26, 2015 at 3:27 am - Reply

    Thanks for sharing this kind of blog.It’s helpful

  2. Avatar
    Shelley June 3, 2015 at 11:11 am - Reply

    The “reported” efficacy of the MMR vaccine is 85%, 95% with 2 doses. Keep in mind that two Merck virologists filed a federal lawsuit under the False Claims Act against Merck, alleging the vaccine maker lied about the effectiveness of this vaccine. In a 1990 study, even though 95% of the children had measles antibodies after vaccination, efficacy was not more than 68%. There is no guarantee that the measles vaccine is going to protect you from getting the measles, or keep you from infecting someone else. In fact, there are many reports of measles outbreaks in the vaccinated population. The 2011 NY outbreak started with a fully vaccinated individual, known as Measles Mary. Here is more information on the vaccine’s failure, stating that up to 50% of the individuals affected in measles outbreaks are those who received 2 doses of the MMR.

    Please keep in mind, if you are vaccinated with a live virus, such as the MMR, you can shed that virus to others, infecting them, even though you are symptom-free. This is confirmed by this study (, meaning that a newly vaccinated person can cause an outbreak. Anyone who has been vaccinated with the MMR should avoid all non-vaccinated persons and especially, should not come into contact with any immunocompromised persons for at least 2 weeks after receiving the vaccine.

    Here is a great CNN interview, going over those who should not be vaccinated, specifically those families who suffer from auto-immune disorders.

    Here is a compilation of studies ( reporting adverse effects as a result of the MMR vaccine. They are too numerous to list. You can also read about the warnings, precautions and adverse effects in the Merck Manual.

    Atypical measles, vasculitis, pancreatitis, diabetes, thrombocytopenia, anaphylaxis, arthritis, encephalitis (swelling of the brain), pneumonia, meningitis, retinitis, nerve deafness and death….just to name a few.

    Here is more information regarding the failing measles vaccine.

    For those that want to argue that you should get your vaccinations to protect those who are immuno-compromised, please note that the CDC states that immuno-compromised persons can receive vaccines, and the vaccines will likely be effective, at least partially. Patients who become immuno-compromised retain immunity developed from previous vaccinations and, therefore, remain protected from the diseases for which they have been immunized.

    I agree that teenagers and adults are at greater risk of developing complications from these diseases, which is why vaccinating against them is actually questionable, especially considering most of the illnesses are minor, short lived and provide life long immunity. Vaccine immunity wanes, sometimes dramatically. Almost all vaccines wear off in 10-15 years. Because scientists don’t test titers on adults, we don’t truly know who is protected and who is not. It is said that 50% of the adult population is unvaccinated and at risk of not only starting an epidemic, but suffering more dire consequences from the illnesses. I bet a lot of adults would have rather had the mild illness as a child than to suffer through it as an adult. It’s not the children we should be worried about.

    Ultimately, if you believe that everyone should be vaccinated, then you should press for liability by the pharmaceutical industry and doctors in order to make the program more safe. Vaccine injury is real, which is why the government created the National Vaccine Injury Compensation program. In 1986 Congress gave the drug companies immunity against all lawsuits from vaccine related injuries. The Federal Government is now paying out billions in damages to those who have been hurt by vaccines. The drug companies continue to rack up huge profits while the tax payer continues to pay the damages. In this environment of profits with no liability, there is absolutely no incentive for vaccine makers to make vaccines safe. Please sign this petition to repeal The-National-Childhood-Vaccine-Injury-Act-of-1986.

    • Avatar
      Dr. Andrew Pugliese June 11, 2015 at 1:34 pm - Reply

      No treatment is 100% fool proof or without side effects. Case in point: many of the new prophylaxis therapies for malaria carry some horrendous side effects so do you take the prophylaxis or tempt faith and hope you don’t get malaria? Several of the patients that I recently treated for malaria all stopped prophylaxis prematurely while still overseas. All of the side effects you mentioned are also complications of the viruses itself. As far as adults are concern I’m actually testing adults for measles, mumps and rubella, to see if they have protective titers prior to traveling overseas. So far, I have not had to revaccinate anyone. More importantly though is a question you need to ask yourself “Where would we be today without either the polio or smallpox vaccine?

  3. Avatar
    Alice June 9, 2015 at 5:55 am - Reply

    A very good article

  4. Avatar
    Alice June 9, 2015 at 5:56 am - Reply

    A must read..

  5. Avatar
    Dorcas Nduati June 11, 2015 at 5:20 am - Reply

    Consequences of not vaccinating children

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