This isn’t going to shock many, but it gives primary care doctors some additional ammo against anti-vaccine parents. A new study has linked low measles immunization rates to the measles outbreak that rocked Disneyland this year.

Published in JAMA, the study looked at two questions. Was the measles outbreak directly linked to too few people receiving the measles vaccine? And two, what was the coverage of measles immunization at Disneyland when the virus was circulating?

If you’re thinking the second question is near impossible to answer, it actually isn’t. Researchers know enough about measles to give a solid estimate of immunization coverage at both the theme park, and other mini-outbreak areas.

Researchers at Boston’s Children and MIT worked backwards through the outbreak to come up with the number of non-immunized people for us to see the level of cases. So far, the CDC has linked 145 cases to Disneyland in what the center deems an ‘ongoing outbreak.’

disneyland measles outbreak

Anti Vaccine Movement

Normally content to be neutral, the researchers came out firing at the anti-vaccine (anti-vaxxers) movement. They write the outbreak “shines a glaring spotlight on our nation’s growing anti-vaccination movement and the prevalence of vaccination-hesitant parents.”

That’s scientific for saying stop screwing around before you cause an epidemic.

One of the biggest issues with the anti-vaccine movement is their herd mentality. The parents who avoid vaccinating their children tend to develop into small communities, losing any herd immunity.

To achieve herd immunity, 96 to 99 percent of the community’s population has to be vaccinated according to the study.

Herd immunity affords protection for those too young or sick to receive vaccines. Once herd immunity is lost, measles and other preventable disease can gain a foothold.

Disneyland Immunization Rate

Just how low was the immunization rate during the time of the outbreak? Shockingly low. Researchers put the number between 50 and 86 percent. It’s a wide estimate, but even the topline number of 86 percent is well under the herd immunity threshold.

”Clearly,” they write, “MMR vaccination rates in many of the communities that have been affected by this outbreak fall below the necessary threshold to sustain herd immunity, thus placing the greater population at risk as well.”

Already, states are implementing laws to require vaccinations for school children. Maybe I moved around too much growing up as a Navy kid, but every new school I attended also included a list of booster shots.

While doctors need to keep educating, parents need accountability. Not only are you risking your child to a completely preventable disease, Mickey Mouse is under the gun at Disneyland.


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