Anti-Vax Nation

A plausible cause for a measles outbreak

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The measles virus, scientifically known as Rubeola, is one of the most contagious and infectious diseases known and is considered to be one of the leading causes of death among young children around the world. If one contracts the disease, they alone can infect 90 percent of the people that come into direct or indirect contact with them.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 79 individual measles cases have been documented in the United States over the month of January alone, and that number is expected to rise. This sudden, but not so surprising, outbreak is causing communities, states, and the nation to call for a state of emergency. Due to poor peer influence and the ever-growing negative opinion emphasized on the internet by the Anti-vaccination movement, measles is coming back with a vengeance, and is here to show why everyone is wrong for believing that the preventive measures set in place are ineffective.

The current outbreak in the United States is likely connected to the massive outbreaks happening in Ukraine and Israel. International travelers that are either unvaccinated, or not fully vaccinated, are contracting the disease outside of the country and bringing it back to the U.S. as a souvenir. In most cases, measles is said to be silent in the beginning stages of infection, causing a slight fever, dry cough, runny nose, and swollen eyes. Once the virus is fully engaged in warfare among the immune cells of the body, the most obvious symptom becomes a rash that covers the body from head to toe. An infected individual is considered contagious four days prior to developing and four days following the rash.

Not only are pockets of unvaccinated people at risk, but studies are showing that those who did not complete the two-step vaccination process are also at a very high risk.

The CDC states that the recommended double dose of the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine heightens immunity and dramatically decreases–and almost eradicates–a person’s chance of being infected.

The first vaccination should be given anywhere from twelve to fifteen months of age, and the second vaccination is recommended between four to six years of age. One dose ensures 93 percent immunity against the disease, while two doses increases that number to 97 percent.

According to a National Immunization Survey done by the CDC, the overall MMR vaccination rate in Oregon from 1995-2017 for infants 19 to 35 months of age is as high as 90.3 percent. With the outbreaks occurring mainly around the Portland area, researchers are finding that there is a connection between vaccination rates and the high occurences of measles they are experiencing. Clark County, Washington, currently has 53 documented cases with two suspected cases and are advising residents that it is mandatory to get vaccinated. Clark county is one of the five least vaccinated counties in Washington with a vaccination rate of  84.5 percent among children two years and older. Multnomah county, here in Oregon, has a slightly higher rate of 87 percent of vaccinated infants, and has documented a total of three cases of measles so far.

Of all the current outbreaks, most are children under the age of 10. Many people are on the fence about vaccinating their children because of a number of factors that have contributed to the anti-vaccination movement. It’s plausible that the movement was started by a discredited study published by Andrew Wakefield, in which he made the conclusion that the MMR vaccine caused a gastrointestinal syndrome in some children, thus triggering the autism gene. The controversy was further spread by many Hollywood A-listers speaking out against vaccinations. Add to that the availability of unreliable information on the internet and it is easy to see how many American parents could be feeling leery about the safety of vaccinating their children.

With outbreaks occurring across the country, ranging from New York to Hawaii, measles is steadily becoming the talk of not only the Pacific Northwest, but the nation as well. There are currently 10 states with active outbreaks: California, Colorado, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Texas, Georgia, Illinois, Washington, and Oregon. Researchers are predicting that as the number of infected individuals not seeking professional medical attention and the number of children going unvaccinated increases, the disease will continue to work itself through the entire state, hitting the ones that do not believe in vaccinations the hardest.

Every American has the duty to wade through the plethora of information in regards to the effectiveness and safety of the MMR vaccination, and make the best decision for their health and the health of their family. We simply cannot make decisions based on the opinions of others, especially when it comes to something as important as our health.