Vancouver, Canada (not to be mistaken for Vancouver, Washington, which is also currently suffering a measles outbreak) has had nine cases of measles confirmed just this month. The outbreak appears to be centered on schools in the city, with several cases being traced back to French-language schools in the area.
One man, Emmanuel Bilodeau, believes his son may be the cause of the outbreak. He told CBC News that his son, who he chose not to have vaccinated, contracted measles during a holiday to Vietnam earlier in the year, before bringing it back to Canada. Here, it spread around two schools that share a bus company.
Bilodeau says that he hadn't vaccinated any of his three children, due to concerns that vaccines cause autism (which they don't). The other two children became infected with measles shortly after his first son started showing symptoms, and was taken to the local hospital.
"We worried 10-12 years ago because there was a lot of debate around the MMR vaccine," he told CBC News. "Doctors were coming out with research connecting the MMR vaccine with autism. So we were a little concerned."
Bilodeau explained that he isn't an anti-vaxxer, but he wanted to find "a vaccine that was given in a separate shot so it wasn't such a hit on the kid."
Bilodeau says that he now knows that there is no link between getting vaccinated and autism. A comprehensively discredited study by a doctor who was struck off the medical register for serious professional misconduct over how he carried out the study, is the likely source of the thoroughly debunked myth that vaccines cause autism. The continuity of the myth is likely because autism is usually diagnosed around 18 months to 2 years old, which is when the symptoms first begin to manifest, coincidentally the age it's recommended children have the MMR vaccination against measles, mumps, and rubella.
The hospital treating his sons has confirmed measles in his younger son, whilst Bilodeau's other children are awaiting the results of their blood tests.
Whilst getting the MMR jab will not cause autism, not getting the vaccines can cause some serious complications. From measles, this includes brain damage and death. Mumps can cause inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. Rubella, for pregnant women, can lead to miscarriage and babies born with serious birth defects. Global measles cases doubled last year. We would highly recommend getting yourself vaccinated against them as soon as possible, if you aren't already immune.
If you have parents that are reluctant to get you vaccinated and wish to find out how to protect yourself (as increasingly children are), check out our guide on how to get vaccinated without your parents' permission.