The year is 2019 and measles outbreaks are popping up across America. Yes, measles.
If it feels like we’re living in the twilight zone, it’s because we are. In 2000, almost 20 years ago, measles was declared to be eliminated from the United States following extensive vaccination campaigns.
Despite this, cases have popped up in 11 states so far this winter.
Measles, which can be identified by a distinct, blotchy rash, is a highly contagious viral infection that can result in brain damage, deafness and, in rare cases, death. While health officials say that vaccination rates around 90 to 95 percent are generally enough to prevent an outbreak, rates have continued to decline across the nation.
The MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella, is considered both safe and effective as a general scientific consensus, and is required for all school-age children. One dose of the vaccine is about 93 percent effective at preventing measles if exposed to the virus. Two doses are about 97 percent effective, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, 17 states currently allow for “philosophical exemptions,” which means that a parent can excuse their child from being inoculated for virtually any reason. Additionally, 47 states allow for religious exemptions from the vaccine.
Dr. Alan Melnick, director of public health for Clark County, Washington, said that the recent outbreaks, including 55 cases in Washington state, were “100 percent preventable,” in an interview with NPR.
Before routine vaccinations became the norm, Melnick said 400 to 500 people were dying of measles each year in the United States in the early 1960s, and while he told NPR he didn’t “want to point the finger at anybody,” I have no problem doing so.
Parents, please educate yourself. Please vaccinate your children.
Anti-vaxxers continue to perpetuate the false narrative that such vaccines cause autism. Study after study has shown this to be untrue.
It’s time for this conspiracy theory to die an irrevocable death. Your child certainly won’t develop autism if they succumb to a 19th century steamship disease first.
The lie started in 1998 with Andrew Wakefield, a British scientist who published a case series suggesting the MMR vaccine was linked to autism. What he conveniently forgot to mention was that he was working on developing his own competing vaccine.
Even though Wakefield’s research was unsupported and widely rejected by the scientific community, law firms saw an opportunity to begin suing drug companies on behalf of parents of autistic children, further fueling these invalid claims that the vaccination was to blame.
The bottom line is whatever recklessly illogical “philosophy” you may have against getting vaccinated is uneducated and perilous to society.
Immunocompromised children and children who are too young to receive the vaccine are dependent upon herd immunity and safety in numbers. You do not have the right put the lives of other people’s children in danger.
If you choose not to protect your own children (which is insane), understand that you’re also severely elevating the risk of contamination for children suffering from cancer and other compromising diseases.
The World Health Organization just recently declared vaccine resistance as one of the top 10 threats to global health in 2019, which means that we are heading in the wrong direction. Anti-vaxxers are an imminent and direct threat to public health, and must be treated as such.
The solution is simple: the government must act. Although I would normally advocate against increased institutional involvement, it is abundantly clear that our laws must change to curve this regression of medical progress before things get any further out of hand.
These are not archaic times. Outbreaks of measles in the year 2019 proves that we can no longer trust parents to simply do the right thing.
Revisiting our existing state laws is both a timely and complicated process, but it is essential to impose legal ramifications against actions that put other children in harm’s way. This most definitely includes refusing to vaccinate your child for a hazardous disease that should have long been eradicated.
Enough is enough. Before measles becomes an epidemic again, we must address the epidemic of widespread medical misinformation once and for all.