There has been a disturbing rise in the number of people who refuse to give their children the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine because of the bogus fears, stoked by some celebrities, that the vaccines can cause autism. Those claims, revealed to be not only without any basis but based on initial fraudulent studies that resulted in its chief proponent Andrew Wakefield losing his medical license, have taken on a life of their own and efforts to counter them seem to have no effect.
As a result, we now have a resurgence of illnesses like measles that were once thought to have been completely eradicated in the US.
A pediatrician has had it up to here with vaccine deniers and issued a righteous rant against the anti-vaxxers (as they are known) because they have brought measles back not only into his city but other cities as well.
There is currently an outbreak of measles in New York City. Considered eliminated in the United States in 2000, last year saw a record number of outbreaks around the country. It’s only three months into 2014, and not only is the nation’s largest city seeing cases in several boroughs, but other major metropolitan areas are warning of new cases as well.
This is not some inconvenience to be laughed off. Measles is a highly-contagious illness caused by a virus. It usually presents with a combination of rash, fevers, cough and runny nose, as well as characteristic spots in the mouth. Most patients recover after an unpleasant but relatively uneventful period of sickness. Unfortunately, about one patient in every 1,000 develops inflammation of the brain, and one to three cases per 1000 in the United States result in death.
This is sheer lunacy. Just over a dozen years ago this illness was considered eliminated in our country, and this year people are being hospitalized for it. All due to the hysteria about a safe, effective vaccine. All based on nothing.
He now refuses to have as patients those who do not vaccinate their children because he does not want his other patients to get the illness. This is because the vaccines not only protect those vaccinated but by everyone being vaccinated, they provide herd immunity, especially for those too young to be vaccinated. If enough people don’t get vaccinated, herd immunity breaks down. So the anti-vaxxers are not just risking the health of their own children, which is bad enough, but of everyone.