A few weeks ago Disneyland appeared to be Ground Zero for a measles outbreak that led to 17 identified cases in the US. Since then, at last count, there are now over 120 confirmed cases of measles in the country, possibly due to “satellite” outbreaks as those persons returned home from “The Happiest Place on Earth.”
This issue once again has stirred me to “What are they thinking?” and “How can people be so naïve?” as what I see as the cause of the outbreaks – parents not vaccinating their children.
Now, I don’t claim to be a doctor, or even play one on TV, and I’m far from being popular enough or having the appropriate tact to get elected, but it seems our elected officials need to take heed from the knowledgeable medical community on the issue.
First we have certain political figures kissing the behind of radical theorists questioning the requirement for parents to vaccinate their offspring coming out and saying it’s a parental personal choice. This has led to schools allowing parents to opt out of required vaccinations for a variety of reasons including personal and religious objections.
In the mid-‘80s measles because of more advanced inoculations, was extremely rare in the US and nearly wiped out.
The so-called “anti-vax” movement, composed of a variety of individuals ranging from former doctors who should know better, to semi-celebrities who have no medical training, to anti-government conspiracy theorists who distrust anything that the government says has somehow risen in the US in recent years. They rely on a widely discredited 1998 report in The Lancet, a U.K. medical journal, suggesting a link between measles, mumps and rubella vaccinations and the onset of autism in children.
Again – There is absolutely no scientific proof to this theory.
This movement has spread ignorant misinformation and frightened parents, thus contributing to declines in vaccinations leading to deficiencies in the population to allow, even assist, outbreaks of many vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles.
Remember now, these parents don’t fear measles as an epidemic anymore because the responsible ones had immunized their kids for so long thus nearly annihilating the disease.
Rather than rely on fact-based data from the Centers for Disease Control that states childhood immunizations topped the list for the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century, these individuals have put faith in discredited quackery or a favorite TV personality (Dr. Oz, Jenny McCarthy) who will come out and bash childhood vaccination.
We have thus allowed clueless “personal opinions” with no scientific basis or even hazardous “religious grounds objections” to compromise our overall public health on the basis of “individual liberties” or the fear of government intervention as evidence-based science takes a backseat to philosophical rights.
As the current outbreak has exhibited, the unvaccinated poses an extensive threat to the overall health of a community at-large. Immunizing your children not only benefits them, but also ensures the health of the entire community.
In response to the outbreak, some communities and school districts are calling for the quarantine of unvaccinated students resulting in rants about the “civil rights violations” and targeting of the self-esteem of those affected.
Measles is incredibly contagious through respiratory contact and exposes the individual to the disease.
The reason to quarantine an individual is because that person can be infectious before symptoms appear. The reason for quarantines, and always has been, is to keep people who have been exposed isolated until health officials can be sure that they aren’t contagious or the threat of exposure has passed. Measles is untreatable and has a high rate of complications including being potentially fatal.
So here are some fact based numbers for all the anti-vaxers out there. Since 2007 there have been 145,000 preventable illnesses and 6336 preventable deaths due to no vaccinations. Number of autism diagnosis scientifically linked to vaccinations: Zero.
Let’s get it together before anyone else is left red faced.
Richard Paloma is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News, and The Escalon Times. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.