Remember that map we showed you in January that tracks all the instances of completely preventable diseases that are re-emerging due to lack of vaccination? Sadly, it is receiving several new data points due to an outbreak of the measles in New York City. Nineteen people have been diagnosed with measles and health officials are blaming an influx of people opting out of vaccinations. Four have been hospitalized due to their symptoms.
Measles is a highly contagious, viral respiratory system infection that can be transmitted through the air. Symptoms include a fever, cough, and widespread rash that causes itching. Roughly 1 in 3 people who get diagnosed with measles will suffer a complication, according to the CDC. These complications vary in severity, ranging from pneumonia, ulcers on the cornea, swelling of the brain, and death. Measles can be easily controlled through vaccination and the United States saw a 99% drop in measles diagnoses since the vaccine was introduced in the 1960s. Unfortunately, the diseases have not been completely eradicated due to those in the anti-vaccination faction.
“As long as your kid is vaccinated, why should you care if mine is?” This statement is often cited among parents who choose not to vaccinate their children, probably because it would be a logical argument if this were a perfect world. For those of us stuck here in reality, it is easy to see the blatant flaws. First and foremost, you cannot claim that herd immunity keeps other children safe when you actively try to thin the herd by advocating against vaccines.
The first dose of the MMR vaccine isn’t administered until a child is 12-15 months old and doesn’t offer full protection until the child receives the second dose between ages 4-6. The youngest New Yorker to be diagnosed with measles is 3 months old. This child was never even given the option to be vaccinated and protected against the disease.
In addition to the young, the immunocompromised also rely on being surrounded by vaccinated individuals in order to stay protected. Those with severe allergies to gelatin or are receiving blood products are not able to get vaccinated. New York has more citizens living with AIDS than any other state in the country and can be especially susceptible to infection. Those who are HIV+ are able to receive the MMR vaccines and may benefit from a booster, provided they are not showing symptoms of AIDS.
Health officials in New York are recommending that everyone who is able to get the MMR vaccine do so. If an adult is unsure if they were vaccinated as a child, they can either receive another dose or get blood work done to check their immunity status. Pregnant women are unable to receive the vaccine, though getting an infection can increase the chances of birth defects, miscarriage, or pre-term labor.
The MMR vaccine came under scrutiny in 1998 by Andrew Wakefield, who claimed it caused autism. Because autism symptoms typically appear around the same time that children get the bulk of their vaccines, parents began to worry and began rejecting vaccines. The rest of the scientific community denied his claims, as they were unable to reproduce the results. It was later revealed that Wakefield had actually falsified his data and was driven by financial motivation. His paper was retracted by the journal and his medical license was stripped, though some people still cling to the misinformation and view it as truth. There is absolutely zero scientific evidence to support a causal connection between vaccines and autism. This reckless anti-vax fear-mongering is absolutely responsible for this measles outbreak.