As of Jan. 30, Washington’s Clark County, which covers most of Vancouver and surrounding areas, has over 38 people who have contracted measles. The cause of the widespread infection was measles infecting people in high traffic areas including Portland International Airport, a Portland Trail Blazers basketball game and warehouse stores like Costco and Ikea.
This should have been prevented because measles is an eradicated disease in our society thanks to Maurice Hilleman who invented the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. But thanks to society, vaccinating children has become more stigmatized in
the 21st century.
The MMR vaccine is supposed to be administered between the ages of 12 to 15 months, with a booster shot administered around age four. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the two measles, mumps and rubella shots are 97 percent effective in preventing measles while one shot is 93 percent effective. With such a high success rate, there’s no logical explanation for not having a child vaccinated.
A once completely eliminated, highly contagious virus has made its way back into society and the effects are heinous. But the reason that measles has made such a huge comeback is because of parents who choose not to vaccinate their child.
In the late 1990s, there was a stigma produced from a later redacted medical report that asserted that vaccines cause autism. Dr. Andrew Wakefield punished the world when he published a paper in Lancet that stated that the MMR vaccine caused autism. His theory was accepted by some parents in the autism community as a way to figure the “cause” of their child’s autism.
Retired Playboy playmate, Jenny McCarthy blamed the MMR vaccine for “causing” her son to be autistic. During a 2008 interview with CNN, McCarthy said, “Without a doubt in my mind, I believe that vaccinations triggered Evan’s autism.”
In that same interview, McCarthy even inferred that she would rather her son be sick with measles rather than him being autistic.
“You ask any mother in the autism community if we’ll take the flu, the measles, over autism any day of the week.”
Since more data has been released, there has been a clear answer that vaccines do not cause autism. McCarthy has changed her angle on vaccines, even going as far as to call herself “pro-vaccine.” But the irresponsibility of vocalizing her thoughts on a very public platform has left its mark.
Some people cannot vaccinate their child because of medical reasons or religious reasons. These people instead have to rely on “herd immunity.” Herd immunity is the idea that if everyone who can be vaccinated, will be vaccinated then it will be enough to prevent those who medically cannot be vaccinated to be protected from disease. In theory, herd immunity should be enough to protect those who can’t handle vaccinations.
Sometimes, children simply cannot be vaccinated. Children of certain religious backgrounds are not vaccinated. Children that are on immunosuppressant drugs or going through chemotherapy are not vaccinated. These vulnerable children rely on other parents to vaccinate their healthy children so they won’t receive these deadly viruses and diseases.
But because selfish parents aren’t giving their children these easily accessible vaccinations, everyone else is at risk. Those who make a conscious choice not to vaccinate their child are guilty of putting everyone else at risk for eradicated diseases.
Selfishness or ignorance is not an excuse when you are hypothetically explaining to your 12-year-old child that they are going to die from a disease that has a vaccination that is 97 percent effective.
Opinions expressed in The Nevada Sagebrush are solely those of the author and do not necessarily express the views of The Sagebrush or of its staff. Jacey Gonzalez studies journalism and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.