Mumps is making headlines..again
Mumps makes headlines every year at this time. It always starts in High Schools, colleges, and universities. Each year, the number of mumps cases fluctuates within a range of a couple hundred to a couple thousand cases.
CNN reports that, “In December, the CDC said that most of the individual state outbreaks had been occurring among vaccinated people.“
During 2016, 5,311 cases in 46 states and the District of Columbia were reported to the CDC.
This is because of four things:
1. The mumps component of the MMR vaccine does not work, and when it does work, it wears off after 10-15 years in a large number of kids. So many of those who were fully vaccinated (2 doses) have no immunity by their late teens.
2. Once there is a single case of mumps, people panic and run out to get a “booster” of MMR vaccine. It’s a live virus vaccine and recently vaccinated people can infect others for 4-6 weeks post-vaccination. So recently vaccinated high school and college students are infecting each other, due to the two factors: lack of protection for those who had two vaccines before entering kindergarten, and horizontal transmission (shedding) from the recently vaccinated. This is especially likely to happen in close quarters and among those who are swapping saliva – by kissing and/or sharing drinks, etc…
3. Colleges and Universities are international melting pots. Mumps – like measles – has different strains (similar to different strains of flu virus), and different strains are endemic (occur naturally) in different countries. That’s why different countries use different vaccines. And just like the flu vaccine, if the strain doesn’t match, it doesn’t work.
4. The reason we see more of this in late January and early February (every year) is because colleges and universities deny students access to financial aid if they cannot produce their “up-to-date” shot records.
Many college students don’t know they have the right to refuse vaccines (unless they live in California, Mississippi, or West Virginia), and nobody tells them about religious exemptions. Many college students also do not have easy access to their vaccination records, and thinking there is no harm in getting re-vaccinated (because, after-all… “vaccines are perfectly safe!” [no. they aren’t]), they will just go to the university health clinic and get shot up again so they can access their financial aid.
That generally happens during the first or second week of January. The “outbreaks” generally happen during the second half of January and they subside around mid-late February.