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Urge Merck to Revive Single-Dose Measles and Mumps Vaccines

By Lindsay Birdsall

This timely petition was brought to our attention and we thought it important to provide it here.

As the measles outbreak at Disneyland continues to grow, many are wondering how we can increase cooperation between parents and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) vaccine program.

The purpose of this petition is to increase vaccination against measles and mumps by working with the religious beliefs of parents. People signing this petition hope to achieve this goal by offering an alternative to the MMR combination vaccine. One does not have to share these religious beliefs in order to sign the petition. Signing the petition acknowledges that offering more choices for parents is an effective way to increase vaccination by eliminating religious barriers. 

The single-dose measles and mumps vaccines, which Merck discontinued in 2009, were a great option for parents who have religious objections to the rubella vaccine. Since 2009, many of parents have been refusing the entire MMR combination vaccine. With more choices, we can achieve more cooperation.

For those who are curious, some religious objections to the development of the rubella vaccine are described below:

Development of the rubella vaccine actually involved not one, but 28 abortions. Twenty-seven abortions were performed to isolate the virus and one abortion (WI-38) to culture the vaccine. The vaccine’s strain is called RA 27/3 (R=Rubella, A=Abortus, 27=27th fetus tested, 3=3rd tissue explanted). Rubella, or “German measles,” is usually a harmless childhood disease.

Ironically, rubella is most dangerous for preborn infants, who have a 20 to 25 percent chance of contracting congenital rubella syndrome if their mothers catch rubella during the first trimester. Scientists at the Wistar Institute took advantage of the 1964-65 rubella epidemic to legally acquire fetal tissue from at least 27 so-called therapeutic abortions conducted on women at risk for rubella. Since the live virus was not detected until the 27th abortion, the preceding 26 abortions were apparently performed on perfectly healthy babies. By contrast, Japanese researchers obtained a live virus by swabbing the throat of an infected child.(

At this point, some of you still may not understand the religious objection. You may think, “The past is the past.” How does this impact our lives today? Besides having moral objections to the historical development of the vaccine, many religious parents wonder why pharmaceutical companies do not devote more time and resources to developing research that does not involve human embryos. There are many effective vaccines grown on animal cells or chick embryos. These are available for all vaccines except chicken pox, hepatitis A, and rubella. Perhaps if concerned parents informed Merck of their objection to the use of human embryos in the development of vaccines, we could encourage more research on animal cells. These products would eliminate the religious objections of many parents and increase cooperation with the CDC’s vaccine program.

Thank you for reading about our concerns. We hope that our senators, representatives, and the Centers for Disease Control will encourage Merck to work with parents’ religious convictions and offer single-dose measles and mumps vaccines. With more choices, we can achieve more cooperation, more safety.

This petition can be found on the Change website at