Measles outbreak spreads while parents mistakenly dismiss vaccines

Measles cases have increased over the last year due to parents refusing to immunize their children. As of Feb. 22, 35 measles cases were reported by 15 states. While this could potentially sound like a minuscule amount compared to the population of the United States, it is still a cause for concern as measles is highly contagious and potentially deadly in children.

Erica Finkelstein-Parker, the mother of 8-year-old Emmalee who contracted a form of measles that grew symptomatic years after initial contact, lost her daughter in 2011 to the virus.  

Finkelstein-Parker mentioned in an interview with NBC News, “Measles is a stealth virus. It may look like it has cleared your body, but it can hide in your nervous system.”

Part of the reason for the anti-vaccination argument’s rise is the spread of misinformation from the COVID-19 pandemic. As political officials bash the COVID vaccination and make rash claims that it contributes more to the contraction of COVID rather than preventing it, parents have grown wary of all vaccinations overall. 

This is not including those anti-vaxxers who simply do not vaccinate their kids for a more natural lifestyle, or, far, far worse, because it could give them autism — a claim that has absolutely no scientific support whatsoever. It is merely a lack of education on the parents’ part surrounding what autism is.

However, vaccinations are important for our children and society as a whole. For decades we have been receiving vaccinations that have protected us from some of the worst infections, including polio.

When someone contracts the poliovirus, they could be asymptomatic or develop serious side effects such as paralysis if it infects the spine. Even if a child seemingly recovers from polio without any issues, they could develop post-polio syndrome where they develop muscle pain and paralysis later in life. 

Before the polio vaccination was fully developed, there was an average of 16,316 paralytic polio cases and 1,879 deaths from polio per year between 1951-1954. After its development, these cases dropped to under 1,000 per year by 1962 and below 100 cases following that year.  

Returning to measles, this disease is highly contagious. You do not even have to interact with an infected person to come into contact with the virus. That person merely has to have left the room you happen to walk into for you to most likely contract it. 

Yet, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, the Florida state surgeon general, has decided that children who are exposed to measles can still attend school if their parents decide to send them. This decision comes despite overwhelming warnings for children to quarantine for 21 days after exposure as that’s how long it can take for symptoms to become prevalent.

Part of contracting measles is potentially developing pneumonia, which is the leading cause of death in children who have been infected. So, if parents decide to send their measles-exposed children to school despite the warnings, how many more children will be infected and, in turn, how many of those children will potentially die?

For those who argue that they would rather their children receive more “natural” care, that argument is quite concerning. Natural immunity is developed by contracting the disease and letting your body fight against it. Therefore, for a child to build natural immunity to measles, they would have to contract measles.

Many would most likely agree that this idea is absurd. Parents would rather risk their children’s lives by having them contract measles and “naturally” fight it, rather than having them receive a vaccination that would provide them the defense through a dead version of the virus that can do no harm. 

What I am noticing about people coming out of the COVID pandemic is that they have grown quite wary of everything. That’s understandable as the pandemic was a confusing time. However, to deny the benefits of modern medicine that strive to protect us is incomprehensible.

As Hannah Gadsby stated in her comedy special “Douglas,” “If you honestly think that your child, your only, single child is more important than all the other children collectively, you’re not playing for the team. And if you don’t want to play for the team, why… are you even having children? Get a pet rock!”


Featured photo courtesy of Pixabay, Pexels