Need to point the finger in the Disneyland measles outbreak? Public health officials are laying it at the feet of families that are part of the anti-vaccine movement. Vaccine rates remain high in the United States, but pockets of communities are becoming epicenters for families eschewing vaccines.
Blame the debunked science linking vaccines and autism. It was found to be completely false, yet people still perpetuate the myth. Toss in a general worry that multiple vaccines affect a child’s immune system, and you have a public health problem.
California is one of the biggest clusters of personal exemptions from vaccinations among kindergarten children. The law has been changed, but the rate still stands at 2.5%, above the 1.8% median average in the United States in 2013-14.
Measles is a highly infectious respiratory disease. Symptoms include, fever, rash and cough. The mortality rate is low, killing one in a thousand cases. Young children are especially at risk of complications. National statistics put the death rate from complications at 0.2 to 0.3 percent.
The disease was declared eradicated in 2000, but fifteen years later the disease is popping up in growing outbreak clusters. Most communities are protected by what is called ‘herd immunity.’ Approximately 92 to 94 percent of a community is either vaccinated or immune. This stops any clusters from spreading.
Transmission from one unvaccinated person to another would almost have to require direct contact.
The issue with the Disneyland outbreak is what officials fear the most. A carrier from a foreign country visits a community with high number of unvaccinated people and an outbreak occurs. These communities can ranges from wealthy neighborhoods to clusters of ethnic and/or religious groups.
With the Disneyland outbreak growing, it is shining a light on Southern California schools. In some schools in San Diego, the unvaccinated rate is as high as 30 percent.
Doctors and health officials blame the rise of the Internet doctors. Residents read and believe what they read on the Internet about possible health concerns of vaccines. Seminars to educate the area are only moderately attended, and residents have shifted from autism fears to a broad-based ‘too many vaccines’ mantra.
Vaccines have become almost too good. Diseases have been erased from the United States. Now, the outbreaks threaten to show just how horrifying the diseases were. It’s sad that it takes an adverse event to wake people up.