In 1978, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention set out to eliminate measles from the United States by the year 1982. This goal wasn’t met in its entirety by this time, but the disease rates were substantially reduced.
After a second dose of the MMR vaccine was recommended for all children, the disease declined even more. In 2000, measles was declared “eliminated” in the United States. This means there was the absence of disease transmission for more than 12 months. That was then.
Today, in the year 2017, the state of Minnesota is facing a significant measles outbreak. What happened? How could things change so quickly?
The answer is simple: the anti-vaxxing movement.
All parents want their babies and children to be safe, so when discredited researcher Andrew Wakefield and others who are against vaccinations began telling parents that vaccines could cause autism, many put their fears into action by choosing to keep their children unvaccinated.
Andrew Wakefield has since lost his medical license and his studies have been debunked and retracted. However, the damage was already done.
A small Somali community in Minnesota was specifically targeted by anti-vaxxers. This lead a group of people, who had previously vaccinated at high rates, to start opting out due to fear of their children contracting autism through the vaccines.
This vulnerable community was used by the anti-vaxxing movement to create a sweeping change in Minnesota. Unfortunately, that change resulted in serious consequences. The state is now facing its largest measles outbreak in over two decades.
There are currently 48 cases of measles in Minnesota. Of those, 46 are children aged 10 years and younger, and 41 of these children are Somali-American who were not vaccinated.
Kristen Ehresmann, who is the director of the Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention and Control Division at the Minnesota Department of Health had the following to say about the situation:
“I want to be very clear that this outbreak has nothing to do with being Somali. It’s just the sheer fact of being unvaccinated. Measles finds unvaccinated people, and this outbreak has two key points. One is the effect of targeted misinformation on a vulnerable community, but the other is that if you’re not vaccinated, you are vulnerable. Measles is a serious disease. You can have pneumonia and dehydration and people do die from measles, so we take it very seriously.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, measles “is so contagious that if one person has it, 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected.”
This stat shows the danger of measles and how easily it can and does spread in an unvaccinated community.
In today’s society where information is easily accessible, one would think there would be more backlash for misinformation. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case when it comes to misinformation backing up a frenzied leftist movement.
Unfortunately, because of one man’s skewed research and subsequent following, a whole movement aimed at fighting vaccinations was born. This movement has led to situations like those Minnesota is facing right now. More and more this same type of situation is occurring all over America.
If research could prove that vaccinations led directly to the development of autism, scientists nationwide would reconsider their stance on vaccines. However, that simply hasn’t happened. There is no proof that of a causal relationship between vaccines and autism. Consequently, there is no good reason, only hype and fear for parents to opt out of safe vaccinations.
Parents who choose not to vaccinate their children shouldn’t just consider their own child, but others as well. Some children are unable, due to health reasons, to have vaccinations. Others are too young for them. These, who are the most vulnerable in our society, should be protected by herd or community immunity.
In other words, when the people who can get vaccinated do so, other members of society who cannot get vaccinated are protected by default. As more and more parents buy into what the anti-vaxxing movement is selling, there will be a growing number of unvaccinated children. This will eventually eliminate the herd immunity that so many depend upon.
Therefore, when a parent is contemplating whether or not their child should receive a vaccination, they have to look beyond their child and consider the others in society who are dependent upon their child’s immunity.
Ultimately, it’s up to each parent to decide what’s best for their child. However, the decision to vaccinate or not has far reaching implications, and shouldn’t be taken lightly no matter what the anti-vaxxing group might preach.
~ Facts Not Memes