The governor of Washington has declared a state of emergency last week subsequent to a measles outbreak in Clark and King counties. So far, the state has confirmed that 35 children have measles, and there are eleven more cases pending verification.
One would think that given the fact that we have the entirety of human knowledge available in our pockets – literally at our fingertips – that people would know that we’d almost eradicated preventable diseases like measles. Alas, it appears that a small group of people, based on thoroughly debunked “research” by the charlatan known as Andrew Wakefield,
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Writing for PopSci, Sara Chodosh reported that only 76.5% of the kindergartners in Clark County were fully vaccinated last year, meaning that the low vaccination rate created the perfect place for a measles outbreak to occur. Research has shown that in order for herd immunity to be effective, we need at least 90-90% vaccine coverage. For less contagious diseases like polio, 80-85% will suffice.
Why not 100%?
There are many people who aren’t able to get vaccinated for completely legitimate reasons. They might have an immune disorder or be on chemotherapy. We call these people immunocompromised – their immune systems simply aren’t strong enough for them to be vaccinated. Instead, they rely on herd immunity – everybody around them being vaccinated – to prevent them from contracting a highly contagious disease such as measles.
A preventable outbreak
Come on, people. We’ve been through this before. We got rid of Smallpox with vaccines. We got rid of Polio with vaccines. In 2000, we declared measles was eliminated, but thanks to Andrew Wakefield, it’s made a tremendous comeback.
Complicating matters further is the fact that two kids who were infected with measles recently traveled from Washington to Hawaii, and once they were in Hawaii, exhibited symptoms of measles. And as luck would have it, both kids weren’t vaccinated (okay, maybe it’s not luck, maybe it’s just a preventable disease that became a preventable illness). Who knows how many people they had contact with while traveling. After doing the math, officials determined that the kids weren’t infectious while they were traveling… But this is precisely how a massive outbreak starts.
This is real life. This isn’t a game. This isn’t just a normal childhood sickness. People are getting sick. People have died. People don’t need to get sick from measles anymore. People don’t need to die from measles anymore.
Vaccines are inexpensive and are safe. Even if you think it’s a ploy by ‘Big Pharma’ to make some extra cash, it doesn’t make sense. There’s no money in it for ‘Big Pharma’ to prevent a disease when the cost of treating it makes them two or three orders of magnitude more cash. There’s just no logic in it.
I just don’t get it. It used to be funny to make fun of anti-vaxxers, but I’m almost at a point where it’s not a joke.
Cover image via iStockphoto