Tara Culp-Ressler had an article about how those who are opposed to vaccinating their own children against measles are threatening the lives of other children.
California officials issued a health alert this week over a measles outbreak that appears to have originated at Disneyland theme parks. Nine cases of the highly contagious virus have been confirmed so far in people who recently visited the tourist destination — most of whom haven’t been vaccinated against measles.
Health officials have tracked nine measles cases in California and Utah and are working to confirm an additional three suspected cases. They say that one infected person probably spread the virus throughout the parks. The infected people range from eight months to 21 years old.
Eight of the nine people who have come down with measles have not received the recommended vaccinations against it. Two of the cases involve children who are too young to receive the measles vaccine and are dependent upon herd immunity to protect them from the disease.
The catch is that children don’t begin to get the vaccination until they are about a year old. Until that time, the only thing that protects them is ‘herd immunity’, the label given to the phenomenon that if most or all people are vaccinated, then these infants are unlikely to come into contact with a disease carrier.
But those who are refusing to vaccinate their children because of unfounded fears that the MMR vaccine can cause autism are then enabling them to be carriers of the disease and undermining herd immunity. This denial of science is taking place in wealthy countries and among the wealthy elite of those countries.
Deeply rooted conspiracies about vaccines appear to be at least partly to blame. An increasing number of parents are choosing to skip their kids’ MMR shots based on the scientifically inaccurate belief that the vaccine can lead to autism. The myth is so prevalent that the CDC has been forced to address it on its fact sheet about measles. “Scientists in the United States and other countries have carefully studied the MMR shot. None has found a link between autism and the MMR shot,” federal health officials write.
Anti-vaccine beliefs are particularly prevalent in Disneyland’s home state. People in California — and especially left-wing parents in Los Angeles’ wealthy school districts — are opting to waive their children’s vaccination requirements in rising numbers. Doctors in those areas are now receiving more training about how to convince parents to make different choices.
There are now more than a 100 countries, including low-income nations like Cambodia and Rwanda, that are better at vaccinating against measles than the United States.
We are so close to eradicating these diseases that it must be extremely frustrating to public health workers to be thwarted by unfounded fears about autism in the west to it being some kind of western plot in some Islamic countries, where the polio vaccination programs are facing opposition.