Measles Outbreak in Wake of Anti-Vax Movement

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Jessica Townsend, Editor

More controversy over vaccines has arisen amid a worldwide measles outbreak. Symptoms of measles include a high fever, rash all over the body, stuffy nose and reddened eyes. Measles is one of the leading causes of death for children, according to the World Health Organization, which estimates that 450 people die each day worldwide due to the illness.

In the Philippines alone, 70 people have died, and 4,300 have been infected with this easily preventable virus. Health officials say vaccination rates have gone down from 85 percent to 60 percent, even as low as 30 percent in certain communities.

The fall in vaccinations has been blamed on the Public Attorneys Office and its Chief Lawyer, Persida Acosta. In the recent years she has led a campaign investigating the country’s vaccinations. She claimed that Dengvaxia, a vaccine used to combat dengue fever, killed dozens of children. However, other investigations did not prove this. Duque, the health secretary, said, “the Dengvaxia scare, and all this drama that they were doing, has really caused damage to the integrity and the effectiveness of the Department of Health”(aljazeera).

Senator Risa Hontiveros has asked Acosta to resign. “She[Acosta] stood at the gravesides of poor dead children to wage a vicious campaign of disinformation, pseudo-science and politically-motivated witch-hunts,” said Hontiveros.

In addition to the Philippines, 21 US states have reported cases of measles this year. The number of measles cases has increased drastically in Washington, causing the governor to declare a state of emergency. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that most of the victims had not been vaccinated. One dose of the measles vaccine is 93% effective, while two doses is 97% effective (cnn).

Ethan Lindenberger, an 18 year old from Ohio recently got vaccinated for the first time against his parents wishes. He says that they believed it was “some kind of government scheme” (komonews). He said that other minors have reached out to him after he shared his story on Reddit. Children cannot be vaccinated without their guardians consent, a fact that puts their lives at risk (thehill).

Despite what anti-vaxxers say, there is no tie between vaccinations and autism.  Others choose not to vaccinate due to religious beliefs, and discomfort with putting chemicals in their kids bodies. The consequences are growing more and more obvious. There are other children with problems in their immune system, who cannot get vaccinated even if they want to. These children rely on their community to get vaccinated, and thus protect them. When parents refuse to educate themselves and vaccinate, they put not only their children at risk, but others, too.

Locations available for vaccines can be found here.