There has been a recent spike in cases involving the Measles. Not because the vaccine isn’t working, but because people are choosing not to take it.
According to the CDC, there have already been 173 reported cases of the Measles across 17 states including the District of Columbia this year, a sixth of the total reported cases of Measles for last year. While the total number of cases may not seem like a lot, it’s the amount of time it took to reach this number of cases that is most alarming.
This “outbreak” of sorts has led to debates on whether or not people need to take vaccinations. Many parents are refusing to vaccinate their kids because of the supposed link between vaccines and serious mental conditions.
On NBC’s article that debunked some of the most common misconceptions and myths about Measles. One of the myths was that the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine causes autism in children. While there is always a chance to have side effects from a vaccine, there is outstanding evidence according to the Institute of Medicine.
Another widespread myth about measles is that exposure will build immunity. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, before the MMR vaccine was discovered, people would hold “Measles parties” to expose their children to the virus with the hope they would build up immunity. That practice is back today.
According to ABC News, parents are bringing back “Measles parties” since it seems safer than vaccines. Parents also do this so their kids get measles early on rather than later in life.
While it is true that you only get measles once, a Measles party is not the way to go. In the same ABC News article, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that the Measles virus can be very deadly to children under five and can cause pneumonia, brain swelling and even death. Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News’ chief health and medical editor, also notes that “Although most children recover from chicken pox and measles without a problem, not all do. The vaccines are far safer than the diseases.”
The MMR vaccine was licensed in 1971 and comes in two doses. The first dose produces immunity in approximately 90%-95% of patients, while the second dose produces immunity in those who don’t respond to the first dose, according to the Immunization Action Coalition. Before the vaccine, between 3-4 million people would get the measles in the U.S.
But now, it seems another deadly disease may link to more Measles cases; Ebola. In an article recently posted by Wired.com, the African countries that recently experienced an Ebola crisis are now experiencing a Measles crisis. Because of the panic, Ebola interrupted many health services, including childhood immunization, and has now caused a secondhand epidemic of preventable diseases such as Measles.
Dr. Muttillo, Leesville principal, feels that the spread of a disease such as Measles or the Flu could certainly affect our school, he notes that “WCPSS does have a lot of processes in place to prevent this.”
When asked about the importance of childhood vaccination to him, he stressed how important it was to him, as a father, for his children to be “as healthy and as safe as possible.” As a principal, he feels it is still important for families to “ensure their children stay current on vaccinations,” but also understands and respects the “provisions in place for families to abstain from from these vaccinations.”
All states have a wide array of exemptions of vaccines, with North Carolina only having religious exemptions. The epicenter, California, allows “those who object to immunizations because of personal moral or other beliefs” be exempt from taking vaccines This rule led them to have the most reported cases, while states like North Carolina and Alabama, with little to no exceptions, have had no reported cases. In a study released by pennlive.com, only 59% of U.S. adults under 30 believe that vaccinations should be mandatory, down from 79% in older generations. Some credit this drop to younger generations who don’t remember when diseases like Measles were common.
While the debate over Measles and vaccination is still very political, a majority of Democrats and Republicans both agree that vaccination is the safest option. For now, the decision of vaccination lies with the parents, but that could change if this outbreak continues to spiral out of control.