Measles cases caused by the highly contagious virus have been identified in 10 states so far this winter, but the biggest outbreak is in Washington State’s Clark County, located just north of Portland, Oregon. So far, 53 people have been diagnosed with the communicable disease, of which 47 were unimmunized and five others are still unverified. One immunized person caught the disease, and one person has been hospitalized.
Public health officials report that 38 cases occurred in children under age 10, and 13 people were between the ages of 10 and 18. Lab tests confirm that the cases match a wild strain of the virus that has so far caused 83,000 cases of the disease during the past year in Eastern Europe.
The Washington State Department of Health reported in 2018 that, prior to the outbreak, only 78 percent of Clark County elementary and seconday school students were up to date on all of their immunizations, and that only 85 percent of kindergartners were immunized using the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.
In Clark County, 4,881 students were unimmunized in 2018 due to parents citing “personal exemptions.” Interestingly, in the wake of the current outbreak, orders for measles shots in the county jumped from 530 doses in the previous January to 3,150 last month. It appears that there is no vaccine hesitancy in plague-holes.
Columnist Daniel Engber urges us to “Stop Talking About Measles” over at Slate. Since the anti-vaccination movement in the U.S. is not growing in numbers, he suggests that proponents of immunization are being too shrill and need take a chill pill. That’s a too-comfortable viewpoint.
I counter that a good part of the reason the ranks of anti-vaxxers are not increasing is because responsible media reports highlight how each outbreak of vaccine-preventable disease is traced to parents who refuse immunization that could protect their kids. If not for such reporting, otherwise unopposed anti-vax activists like Robert Kennedy, Jr. will continue to persuade parents to forego immunizations with their public ravings about vaccination causing “ADD, ADHD, speech delay, autism, food allergy, autoimmune diseases.”
Bottom line: Don’t be like some hapless parents in Clark County and wait until a disease outbreak occurs where you live. Vaccinate your kids now.