In A Rush?
I turned on my TV the other morning, while trying not be late for my clinic, and I saw an unfortunate link between a childhood love and a professional frustration.
“Disneyland Measles Outbreak”
I couldn’t believe it. Obviously the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, physicians, and champions of public health nationwide would be all over this but what about Disney themselves…? I did a little homework and was astonished. Disney was ahead of the game, by years. Walt Disney has been so hot on the measles trail since day one. Everyone he casted for his epic animations were not only public health savvy but totally invested in the cause. It’s inspiring and we could all learn something.
Pay attention – From 1928 onward, the motion pictures that define generations of childhoods, help track the dizzying journey of the measles vaccine, the infectious gift that never stops giving.
1928 – Dr. A. Clement Silverman M.D. publishes “Serum Prophylaxis In a Measles Epidemic“. The world wanted a solution and “Willie” was amped.
Steamboat Willie (1928)
1955 – Dr. Thomas Peebles isolated the measles virus in 1954 and this year, Dr. Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine was licensed. Vaccines are en route! Sadly it was too late for folks on the set of Lady and the Tramp.
Lady and the Tramp (1955)
1961 – Dr. Maurice Hilleman Ph.D. bought a very special flock of chickens from Kimber Farms in California. The chickens were free of a specific leukemia-virus and would prove useful in developing a measles vaccine. Descendants from that flock are still holding it down for vaccine research today at Merck.
All 101 Dalmations were, and probably still are, speechless.
101 Dalmations (1961)
1963 – Nobel-prize winning virologist, John Enders gets his measles vaccine licensed. An improved version was later released in 1968.
Prior to his work, the United States saw roughly 4 million measles cases annually. A measles-stricken, King Arthur nearly abandoned his sword out of sheer excitement.
The Sword in the Stone (1963)
1989 – Even after initial success of the measles vaccine, the US was at the start of a 55,000 person epidemic. The American Academy Pediatrics began recommending a second dose in the vaccine schedule.
This actually served as a point of contention between Ariel and Prince Eric.
The Little Mermaid (1989)
1994 – Due to perceived side effects and public outcry, the Japanese government banned the MMR vaccine. But Hmmm….with lower MMR vaccination rates, how would the rate of autism be affected?
Simba was curious but that Fruit Loops-looking toucan thing wasn’t having it.
The Lion King (1994)
1998 – Enter Dr. Andrew Wakefield and his work on “autistic enterocolitis” related to the MMR vaccine. Dr. Wakefield’s work would go on to be published in The Lancet, even though it was laden with biases, undisclosed funding, ethical breaches and twisted results.
The public health world was about to take an unnecessary beating. Mulan’s hairstylists reportedly spent hours chattering about it.
2000 – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announces that domestic measles transmission is contained. Boom. But Americans were still at risk from imported cases…(and in a few years from undervaccinated US kids)
Emperor Kuzco and Pacha were so engrossed in the topic that stunt coordinators had to remind them about their clearly dangerous predicament.
The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)
2005 – An interesting study comes out of Japan showing a rise in autism even with a decline in MMR vaccination rates. Remember that government ban? This represents one of many, many studies debunking the “MMR-autism” hoax.
Chicken Little got quite upset as he was constantly harassed by reporters. Little’s cousin was one of the chicks in the 1961 Kimber Farm flock but declined an interview.
Chicken Little (2005)
2007 – Jenny McCarthy announces that her son has autism and although she hops on as an activist for autistic children, that included pointing fingers at the MMR vaccine. Dr. Robert “Bob” Sears publishes this really annoying book defending “alternative vaccine schedules” and indirectly adds to public fear of vaccinations. Good job.
Why would the public listen to Jenny McCarthy over scientific data? Both Remy, the culinary rat, and millions of others ask that same question.
2010 – The UK General Medical Council charges Dr. Andrew Wakefield with professional misconduct – after stating that he acted irresponsibly and failed his duties as a consultant, he was stripped of his medical privileges.
Don’t worry, there’s still a huge group that stands by him and the anti-vaccine crowd totes him as their “Jesus or Nelson Mandela”. Around this time, Toy Story 3 production stopped because the toys couldn’t turn away from the TV.
Toy Story 3 (2010)
2013 – 159 cases of measles are confirmed by August 24th. Jenny McCarthy talks about the dangers of “too many vaccines at once” on the Howard Stern show and helps promote the fear of mercury in vaccines.
After realizing how annoying her song was, Elsa, Queen of Arendelle, sang an impromptu version that subsequently went viral and landed her in turmoil with Disney execs.
2014 – Fortunately, Disney had a brilliant trick in store. Baymax Jones, casted as a personal healthcare robot, in Big Hero 6 spun the blockbuster into a giant public health campaign. Jones reportedly ran all over the set checking vaccination statuses to ensure the crew was up to date.
Big Hero 6 (2014)
2015 – And we’re back, full circle. As of January 24th, at least 70 confirmed cases of measles are linked to an outbreak in Disneyland that happened sometime around the holidays. Hundreds more are now exposed in 6 states.
All over what?
Some faulty research, public hysteria, and the dire need to blame something? Regardless of the reason, we know the remedy. Mickey, keep your fist in the air – solidarity to you and your crew.
I bet they’re all vaccinated….
…not so sure about Tokyo Disneyland though…
What’s My Point?