More than 1,000 people in New Jersey and New York have been sickened with mumps since August.

Almost all of those infected with the virus are of the Orthodox or Hasidic Jewish population. The mumps outbreak began at a summer camp for Orthodox Jewish boys in Sullivan County, New York. Health officials have linked the outbreak to an 11-year-old boy at the camp. He had recently returned from the United Kingdom, where a mumps outbreak had spread to 4,000 people.

The boy had been fully vaccinated against the mumps, as had 77 percent of the patients in New Jersey. The vaccine is not 100 percent effective, according to the CDC.

Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus. Initial symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches and loss of appetite, and the disease can cause your jaw and cheeks to swell, with further complications including the inflammation of the brain, testicles or ovaries, and deafness.

Sources: CNN February 8, 2010

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

In what is being described as the largest mumps outbreak in the United States since 2006, more than 1,000 people in New Jersey and New York have come down with mumps.

In the United States, children typically receive their mumps vaccination as part of the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises children to receive their first dose between 12 and 18 months, and their second between the ages of 4 and 6.

This vaccine is supposed to make people immune to measles, mumps and rubella ... yet 77 percent of the 1,000+ who have recently been sickened with mumps were vaccinated.

You Can Still Get Mumps if You've Been Vaccinated

This leaves a glaring question ... does the MMR vaccine -- which is one of the most controversial shots on the CDC's schedule -- even work?

Well, according to the CDC, maybe yes, maybe no.

They say the vaccine is not 100 percent effective, but rather 76-95 percent effective.

In fact, the second MMR dose is necessary because up to 20 percent of individuals do not develop measles immunity after the first dose. The second dose is intended to provide a "second chance" for the vaccine to work, which is further evidence of this shot's ineffectiveness.

Even so, the CDC's estimates of efficacy seem to be rather generous, given that 77 percent of those currently infected with the mumps on the East Coast have been vaccinated. And in 2006, when mumps infected more than 6,500 people in the United States, cases occurred primarily among college students who had received two doses of MMR vaccine.

At that time, just about the only people who were truly immune to mumps were older Americans who had recovered from mumps as children, and therefore had received natural, lifelong immunity.

So just how does the CDC determine a vaccine's efficacy?

The CDC's former head, Dr. Julie Gerberding, described the process in a press briefing during the 2006 mumps outbreak. As you'll read, it's hardly a scientific process:

"There are several different methods for determining vaccine efficacy, but when we have cases of mumps, the first question to ask is, is this person not vaccinated, have they had one dose of vaccine or do they have two doses of vaccine?

One thing we can do is compare people with mumps to people like them who did not have mumps, and by comparing the frequency of vaccination in the people who have the disease with people who do not have the disease, we have tools that allow us to estimate vaccine efficacy in that context.

So that really is the simplest way, and those are the kinds of things that our teams are looking at with the state health officials in the field as we speak."

Again, even she went on to say that "even when the vaccine is optimal, it is never 100-percent protective."

The Problem with Artificial Immunity (Vaccination)

Vaccines are never 100 percent protective because they provide only temporary, typically inferior immunity compared to that your body would receive from naturally contracting, and recovering from, a disease.

In the case of mumps, for instance, immunity is typically permanent for those who get it in childhood. As Barbara Loe Fisher, president and co-founder of the National Vaccine Information Center, explains:

"Vaccines are supposed to fool your body's immune system into producing antibodies to resist viral and bacterial infection in the same way that actually having the disease usually produces immunity to future infection.

But vaccines atypically introduce into the human body lab altered live viruses and killed bacteria along with chemicals, metals, drugs and other additives such as formaldehyde, aluminum, mercury, monosodium glutamate, sodium phosphate, phenoxyethanol, gelatin, sulfites, yeast protein, antibiotics as well as unknown amounts of RNA and DNA from animal and human cell tissue cultures.

Whereas natural recovery from many infectious diseases stimulates lifetime immunity, vaccines only provide temporary protection and most vaccines require "booster" doses to extend vaccine-induced artificial immunity.

The fact that man made vaccines cannot replicate the body's natural experience with the disease is one of the key points of contention between those who insist that mankind cannot live without mass use of multiple vaccines and those who believe that mankind's biological integrity will be severely compromised by their continued use."

This knowledge leaves many open-ended questions about the vaccine process in the United States, and whether it is ultimately causing more harm than good. Barbara Loe Fisher continues:

"First, is it better to protect children against infectious disease early in life through temporary immunity from a vaccine or are they better off contracting certain contagious infections in childhood and attaining permanent immunity?

Second, do vaccine complications ultimately cause more chronic illness and death than infectious diseases do? Both questions essentially pit trust in human intervention against trust in nature and the natural order, which existed long before vaccines were created by man."

A Serious Decision

There are basic differences between naturally acquired immunity and temporary vaccine-induced antibody production. But few are willing to look at this issue -- least of all conventional medicine, which in reality is ruled by pharmaceutical companies.

Unfortunately, if we as a society continue down the road they're paving for us, and they're wrong about the efficacy, safety, and overall long-term side effects of vaccines, then we're on extremely dangerous ground.

Mumps used to be a routine childhood disease. Many of you reading this likely had your turn, the virus ran its course while you stayed at home in bed, and you've been rewarded with lifelong immunity. In most cases mumps, like many of the childhood diseases we're now vaccinating our children against, is not a serious disease.

In rare cases, serious complications can develop, but you must weigh this risk against that of the vaccine, which, for one, definitely contains substances with known toxic properties. The other aspect to the equation is that even if you get the vaccine, you may still get the mumps, which means you've accepted the risk of the vaccine itself with no benefit whatsoever.

I believe it's the time is ripe for an open conversation about vaccines, one that addresses the glaring questions about efficacy and side effects, and leaves room for real, honest answers -- and alternatives.

In the meantime, healthy dietary habits and a robust immune system are two important factors that influence your ability to successfully combat viral assaults like mumps.

All of the information you need to boost your immune system and health is available, for free, on my Web site in a clear, concise format that is broken down for beginners, intermediate, and advanced. I encourage you to browse through this information today for tips on how to stay healthy, naturally.