America’s Growing Measles Problem

How the growing movement of vaccination boycotting is affecting children

Casey Stevenson

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NEW YORK – The measles has been an avoidable disease since the 1950’s and 60’s. (the exact year of the invention of the measles vaccine, MMR, varies depending on source) Yet, the state of New York has been suffering from an outbreak of measles. It has gotten to the point where Rockland County, in New York, banned unvaccinated children from public places.

Since October of 2018, measles cases are being reported all across the state, particularly from Rockland County, Brooklyn, Queens, Williamsburg, and others. And the epidemic has been spreading to 15 states across the U.S. The outbreak has been affecting American citizens, particularly children, to this day. In fact, the number of measles cases in the first 3 months of 2019 has already surpassed the number of measles cases in 2018 (at least 387 in 2019 and 372 in all of 2018).

The cause for the wave of measles seems to be, in part, upon the growing decrease of MMR and other vaccinations in children. The “Anti-vax movement” is an expanding group of people, particularly parents, who oppose vaccines due to concerns of said vaccines resulting in the cause of autism and other mental disorders, would not protect patients from the disease/give patients the disease the vaccine was for. Or, these parents would refuse to vaccinate their children due to religious beliefs, concerns over the chemicals in the vaccines, or beliefs that pharmacists and the government are lying about vaccines just to get more money. While there have been cases of children getting sick after vaccines, the cases are very, very rare.

The issue with parents not vaccinating their children is that it affects those who cannot get vaccines due to being too young, are moderately to severely ill, or have allergies to ingredients in a certain vaccine(s). People and children who cannot get vaccines rely on herd immunity. According to Merriam-Webster, herd immunity is defined as “ a reduction in the probability of infection that is held to apply to susceptible members of a population in which a significant proportion of the individuals are immune because the chance of coming in contact with an infected individual is less”. So if someone who carries or is infected by a disease, especially one as contagious as measles, those who cannot get vaccines are at huge risk to contract the disease and get sick. Many of these anti-vaccination parents, whose kids are able to get these vaccines, rely on herd immunity, as well as their own methods, such as essential oils, to keep their kids healthy. However, if one person comes in carrying the disease, it can spread fast to these unvaccinated people. With the measles spreading fast due to over-reliance on herd immunity, with not enough kids vaccinated, many are wondering how they can stop the spread.

While in Rockland County, a ban was placed banning unvaccinated children from public places for 30 days, effective March 26, it has been recently lifted by judges like Rolf Thorsen, after parents of these children filed a lawsuit, claiming that their children would miss school and restrict their lives. But the outbreak is still raging and growing, and many kids are in danger of contracting deadly diseases because their parents decided not to vaccinate them.