One unvaccinated person can cause many people to become sick

This news report details a case study of how one unvaccinated two-year old triggered a measles outbreak that sickened 19 children and two adults in Minnesota.

It began when an unvaccinated 2-year-old was taken to Kenya, where he contracted the measles virus. After returning to the United States, the child developed a fever, cough and vomiting. However, before measles was diagnosed, he passed the virus on to three children in a drop-in child care center and another household member. Contacts then multiplied, with more than 3,000 people eventually exposed.

Nine of the children ultimately infected were old enough to have received the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine but had not.

In most of those cases, the child’s parents feared the MMR vaccine could cause autism, according to researchers at the Minnesota Department of Health.

This idea that the MMR vaccine can cause autism, a discredited idea promoted by Andrew Wakefield in 1998 and propagated by high-profile people like Jenny McCarthy, seems to have taken root particularly in the Somali immigrant community with vaccination rates dropping from 90% in 2004 to just 54% in 2010. But it is bad elsewhere too. Ohio has seen a rise in vaccine-preventable illnesses recently

Amy Parker described how her ‘health nut’ parents did everything to give her a healthy lifestyle but did not vaccinate her. The result?

As healthy as my lifestyle seemed, I contracted measles, mumps, rubella, a type of viral meningitis, scarlatina, whooping cough, yearly tonsillitis, and chickenpox. In my 20s I got precancerous HPV and spent six months of my life wondering how I was going to tell my two children under the age of 7 that Mummy might have cancer before it was safely removed.

I find it hard to imagine that so many people are spurning the benefits of hard won science.


  1. sundoga says

    Parents should NOT have the right to refuse to vaccinate their children. In some cases, it might be undesirable to do so -- a friend of mine never had the MMR vaccine because all three of his older siblings had life-threatening reactions -- but that should be the doctor’s call. This is not a freedom issue, it’s a public health issue.

  2. astrosmash says

    Vaccinations required by law. Exeption only with a note from your pediatrician…Q.E.D.
    Well at least SOME of the smarter schools make vaccinations manditory for entry.

  3. Holms says

    Disagreeing with some of that. The doctor cannot override the decision of the person / parents, nor should a person be required to have an immunisation at all. Coupled with that though, no school need enroll a student that does not have a vaccination (barring medical indication against said vaccine).

  4. AnotherAnonymouse says

    Does she really mean scarlatina? That’s a strep infection of the skin, and AFAIK, can’t be vaccinated against (but a course of antibiotics clears it right up, just like a course of antibiotics clears up strep throat). One of my kids had it’ it presented as a full-body rash, and about a day after starting antibiotics, cleared right up.

    My oldest is 20, and I remember very clearly his first doctor appointment, where the pediatrician gave me a stern lecture about vaccinations. It stunned me at the time; I was vaccinated, and I believe in vaccinations. I had no idea what the lecture was about until a few years later, when it became a point of pride among the Mommier-than-thous to not vaccinate.

  5. says



    Seeing as this is a public safety issue, and as refusing vaccination places other people in danger, vaccinations absolutely must be mandatory, barring a legitimate medical reason to opt-out.

    You do NOT have the right to place the elderly, immunocompromised, and very young at risk because you don’t want a quick jab with a needle.

    I do my civic duty, and keep up on my vaccinations, because I don’t want to be the jackass going around spreading preventable illnesses.

  6. JPS says

    A couple of years ago at a regular appointment my doctor said that I’d be getting a couple of vaccinations that day. I feigned horror and claimed not to believe in vaccinations. She knew I was trying to be funny and responded in kind.

    Then I asked if she’d run into problems with non-vaccination proponents. She got very serious, and said that just a couple of weeks before a child had died in the emergency room of an “entirely preventable” disease.

    I let the matter drop.

  7. moarscienceplz says

    @#3 Holms

    Sorry, but you are wrong.
    It is illegal for me to drive my car with unsafe brakes, even if I decide that I’m willing to risk my own injuries. I do not have the right to expose my fellow citizens to an easily prevented risk like that. Same thing with vaccination, period.
    If you still disagree, don’t even bother trying to defend your position, it is dead wrong.

  8. sailor1031 says

    When I was a child, back in the late triassic, the MMR vaccine was not available. Mumps, measles and rubella were common childhood diseases and caused immense discomfort or worse. Some children died. You really wouldn’t want to hear your child up all night with whooping cough for which there was also no vaccine. Measles in childhood leads often to shingles in adulthood; a very painful condition that one would do well to avoid if possible. Mumps in adulthood, contracted by unvaccinated adults from unvaccinated children can lead to sterility. Apart fom the moral obligation to protect others, one would think that irresponsible parents would want to protect their own child -- but then I guess they wouldn’t be irresponsible if they did that.

    There were vaccines for diptheria and scarlet fever as I recall and they were mandatory, as they should have been. Later came vaccines against polio. If you ever saw a child suffering from the ravages of that disease you’d get yourself and your children vaccinated ASAP.

    One hears how smallpox was eradicated as a worldwide threat (apart from foolish governments who perpetuate it with their stupid schemes of ‘weaponization’) but what you don’t hear is that back as late as the early seventies you couldn’t travel anywhere abroad without a valid smallpox inoculation certificate. It wasn’t a choice. No certificate -- no travel. There is plenty of precedent for making vaccinations mandatory. The sad thing is that there are fools who don’t get it. The sadder thing is that they are spreading disease unnecessarily.

  9. sundoga says

    Holms --
    I cannot agree. If you were talking about consent of an adult, I might. But children are not capable of making a decision of this magnitude, and I do NOT accept that parents have ANY right to refuse necessary medical treatments for their children. Parent’s do not own their children, and their rights over them as guardians do NOT include endangering them.

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