How the measles outbreak really looks

Infectious diseases are nothing new to humanity. We have been fighting them since the dawn of time; fighting for our lives. What infectious diseases did for humanity during that point in time was build up the strongest of the population, which helped them live onto the next generation. We’ve all heard it before; survival of the fittest. Those who were able to survive were able to populate the next generation.

However, as society continued to progress and medicine advanced, disease control shifted towards medicine and the creation of vaccines to help prevent an individual from getting a particular disease.

But, don’t you just love it when a hoax causes mass chaos in society? It brings you right back to the witch trials of the 17th century because running around spreading fake news is the way to go, right? Well, here’s a fun fact. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from January 1 to April 26, 2019, 704 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in the United States. The outbreak affected 22 states and still leaves the rest at risk. This is also the greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since 1994. You know what the best part is? Measles were declared eliminated in 2000. So much for elimination, right?

So what caused this sudden outbreak of this infection that was eliminated almost two decades ago? You guessed it, the sharp decrease in vaccination rates. According to federal health data, the percentage of children under 2 years old who haven’t received any vaccinations has quadrupled in the last 17 years. Doesn’t this statistic just make you feel hopeful? Well, here’s some more: according to a CDC analysis of a national 2017 immunization survey, of children born in 2015, 1.3 percent had not received any of the recommended vaccinations. Now compare this to the 0.9 percent in 2011 and to the 0.3 percent in 2001.

Measles has spread mostly among school-age children whose parents declined to get them vaccinated. It is easy to assume that the reason why these children are not vaccinated is because vaccines are not affordable for their families. However, according to Kelly Orringer, M.D., the director of general pediatrics at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, “in our practices we almost never see children who are unvaccinated because their parents can’t afford the vaccine.”

Authorities claim that the most cited reasons are philosophical or religious, as well as concerns that the three-way vaccines against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) could cause autism. According to the CDC, the common side effects of measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccines are a sore arm from the shot, fever and mild rash. Sometimes there is a temporary pain and stiffness in the joints, mostly in teenage or adult women who did not already have immunity to the rubella component of the vaccine. Personally, we’d take a fever and sore arm over measles any day. But maybe we’re crazy.

The biggest reasoning for not wanting to vaccinate? Parents think that their children will contract other illnesses that cannot be treated with medicine. In 1998, Dr. Andrew Wakefield (or should we call him McCarthy?) published a piece stating that he had discovered a link between autism and vaccines. But the great thing about science is that science has to be able to be replicated. And it was not. Study after study showed no correlation between the two.

So why is this still happening? Well, we cannot only blame the people for it, there is also the fact that social institutions are allowing this to happen. According to the CDC, a second report on vaccination coverage for children entering kindergarten in 2017 also showed a gradual increase in the percentage who were exempted from immunization requirements. Most states allow parents to opt their children out of school immunization requirements for nonmedical reasons, providing exemptions for religious or philosophical beliefs. Although the exemption rate is only 2.2 percent, this was the third consecutive year that an increase was observed. According to reports from states, a majority of the exemptions are non-medical. And look where that got us. No one is saying that exceptions should not be allowed for people who have severe allergic reactions to vaccines; however, raising rates of exemptions are not helping with the prevention of such illnesses.

You’d think we’d learn something in four centuries, but it looks like we didn’t. We’re just having hundreds of people die from a preventable infection.

Coming soon to all U.S. states: Smallpox Outbreak, Volume II.  

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