Before the discovery of the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine in 1963, 2.6 million people died from measles each year. They died, they didn’t just get sick, or suffer side effects of the disease, they died.
Now, despite the advances in science and our ability to eradicate this disease entirely with a vaccine, we are facing another devastating outbreak. In fact, between 2016-2017, there was a 30% increase in measles cases, according to new stats from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 30 PERCENT! As a result of the increase, we risk losing decades worth of progress, all because a growing number of people are choosing not to vaccinate their children.
“Measles is [one of] the most contagious diseases in the world, so it’s very, very quickly transmitted,” says Adriana Pistol, a medical epidemiologist for the National Institute of Public Health. The virus can easily be transmitted through coughing, sneezing, or contact with secretions from an infected person. Even worse, the virus is able to linger in the air, which means simply breathing is enough to become infected.
Every piece of reputable literature and research supports vaccinating against measles (and every other disease which a vaccine available for), so how did we get here?
The answer is simple and tragic: people stopped vaccinating, allowing the virus to spread like wild fire.
These people, known commonly as anti-vaxxers, operate on misinformation and myths that have been debunked time and time again.
Anti-vaxxers have a lot of unproven theories and ideas, but to summarize, Linda read somewhere that vaccines are made of toxic waste, and tea tree oil can ward-off demons and epidemic illness, so she doesn’t vaccinate her children. Multiply Linda by a whole bunch of other Lindas, and now we have yet another measles outbreak that was completely preventable.
For anyone operating with a rational mind, this is maddening. If you wade through the misinformation and conspiracy theories of anti-vaxxers, you will find one common idea — they all seem to believe that vaccines are more dangerous than the diseases they prevent. This is complete and utter bullshit, says science. Scratch that, screams science.
According to research and indisputable fact, vaccine-related injuries or deaths are extremely rare. What science does show us, is that vulnerable portions of the populations, including immunocompromised individuals, and children too young to receive the vaccine, are at greatest risk. These people, who aren’t able to receive vaccines, are the one suffering. These are the people who are dying. I’m sorry, but until vaccines are responsible for 2.6 million deaths a year, anti-vaxxers need to take a fucking seat. Hell, take forty seats, because the rest of us are sick of your shit.
When healthy individuals receive the vaccine, we provide herd immunity to those at greatest risk, because we can’t be a carrier if we can’t be infected. That’s literally the beauty of vaccines — they stop the spread of disease. However, by that same theory, when healthy individuals who are not vaccinated are exposed to measles, they can transmit the disease to others, even before the show symptoms.
Allow me to give you an example to really drive this home. An unvaccinated child, who has been infected with measles but is not yet showing symptoms goes to the grocery store with his mother. He rides in the shopping cart, and like a well-mannered child, he covers his mouth when he coughs, then places his hands back on the cart handle. The next shopper to use the cart is a mother of a 10-month-old, who is still too young to receive the vaccine. She places her child in the cart while she shops, the same cart the infected boy just occupied. The baby touches the cart handle and then touches her face, as babies do. She is now infected with measles. That’s how it happens.
A healthy person may recover from measles without issues, if they are lucky, but a baby or an immunocompromised person, well, measles could easily kill them. THIS HAS TO STOP. Vaccines save lives. This time it’s measles, but next time it could be polio. If you aren’t familiar with the devastating effects of polio, just Google iron lung, and you can see what sort of life you were left with if you survived.
Enough is enough, vaccinate your children, or move to another planet, because the rest of us are done with your bullshit.