A dozen or more people may have come home with one more souvenir from Disneyland than they expected this year: the measles. Nine confirmed and four suspected cases have now been reported as of Thursday, after these families visited the popular destination last month.
Of those infected, only one had undergone a measles vaccine (which is 99% effective) according to Dr. Harriman, California’s Chief of Vaccine Preventable Diseases. The remainder either had an incomplete regimen, were not vaccinated, or were too young for vaccines. Measles is an airborne illness, and once introduced in an unvaccinated population will spread quickly. Already California faced the worst outbreak in years just a few months ago – this new outbreak just underscored the problem.
These cases, currently isolated to California and Utah, are a serious reminder of the danger posed by and for those who are not vaccinated. The concern and fear over vaccines is now causing regular outbursts of diseases once considered wiped out. The fear of vaccines has driven people to create elaborate conspiracy theories regarding the so- called dangers of getting vaccinated.
The reality is, vaccines are not 100% effective, not 100% safe, but statistically you are safer with them, than without. Eliminating the widely debunked claims over connections between vaccines and autism aside, every vaccine can have side-effects. These are typically rare, and are of a low enough percentage that they are safer than to be exposed without the vaccine.
It is a global economy, we will have people and products from less developed nations within this country. Even if no domestic source of a deadly disease is present, the risk of an imported strain remains. People can, and do, die from these diseases, and it can be easily prevented. It is a shame to witness otherwise rational people turn to what is in effect a cultlike mentality in the fight against disease. One must wonder how they would feel seeing a loved one fall victim to typhoid carried within a frozen mamey from Honduras. They will tell themselves any number of things to defend their position, but ultimately, the guilt is upon them.
As a society, it is our responsibility to protect ourselves, for those rare people who are too young, or too ill, or carry a condition which medically prevents the administration of vaccines. We are our brother’s keeper, we are our own support network. Make sure your shots are up to date, and help protect us all.