Health & Wellbeing

Measles resurgence raises concerns over vaccine exemptions

Officials in Washington are debating removing personal belief vaccine exemptions in the wake of an ongoing measles outbreak
Officials in Washington are debating removing personal belief vaccine exemptions in the wake of an ongoing measles outbreak
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Officials in Washington are debating removing personal belief vaccine exemptions in the wake of an ongoing measles outbreak
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Officials in Washington are debating removing personal belief vaccine exemptions in the wake of an ongoing measles outbreak

A major measles outbreak in Washington state is being blamed on low-vaccination rates. In response, Washington lawmakers are currently debating a measure seeking to remove a current exemption that allows parents to refuse vaccinating their child based on philosophical or personal beliefs.

Over the last month a major outbreak of measles has been spreading across Clark County in Washington state. In mid-January the county declared a public health emergency as cases of the highly contagious disease continued to grow.

The vast majority of verified cases so far have been in young, unvaccinated children (under the age of 10). Clark County has been referred to in the past as a "hot spot" for unvaccinated children. Recent data has revealed 7.9 percent of Clark County children commencing kindergarten in the 2017-18 school year were unvaccinated. The vast majority of those children utilized a personal or philosophical exemption to avoid vaccinations.

In general, every state in the US mandates children must be appropriately vaccinated before entering public schooling. However, there are several exemptions that currently exist allowing children to go unvaccinated. Seventeen states in the country have broad vaccine exemptions allowing parents to leave their children unvaccinated due to personal or philosophical beliefs. Washington is one of those states.

There are only three states in the country that have entirely barred non-medical vaccine exemptions - California, Mississippi, and West Virginia. California most notably tightened its rules on vaccine exemptions after a massive outbreak in late 2014 totaled nearly 150 cases. The outbreak was suspected to have originated in Disneyland theme parks.

In 2000, after several decades of widespread vaccinations, measles was officially declared to be eliminated in the United States. Since that low-infection point, cases of measles have been progressively rising. A striking 372 cases were reported in the United States last year. In the first month of 2019, there have already been 79 cases reported in the country.

The World Health Organization recently delivered its annual report on European rates of measles transmission revealing a concerningly similar trend. 2018 presented a massive surge in measles cases across Europe, more than triple the amount seen in 2017, and a startling 15 times more than the record low seen in 2016.

Looking at the data country to country in Europe reveals a direct correlation between local vaccination rates and measles outbreaks. Serbia, for example, reported the highest rates for measles infections over the past year and also generally recorded an average vaccination rate of around 86 percent. This is well below the 90 to 95 percent suggested as necessary for herd immunity. France, Italy and Greece have also reported some of the lowest vaccination rates in the European Union, with France in particular hovering around 85 percent.

Since the outbreak, demand for measles vaccinations in Clark County has soared 500 percent compared to the same time last year. Alan Melnick, the director of public health in Clark County suggests the upswing in vaccinations may be positive but notes, "I would rather it not take an outbreak for this to happen."

5 comments
paul314
Foolish people hoodwinked by truly evil folks. The original "medical" report ostensibly linking vaccination to bad things was a complete fraud commissioned by ambulance-chasing lawyers. Of course, in the US it doesn't help much that we have such a fragmented health care and social services system, so that any parents whose kid is struck by a crippling illness either have to find a villain with deep pockets or go bankrupt.
guzmanchinky
It's always hard to believe people are this stupid. Vaccinations should be mandatory.
bwana4swahili
Lots of Darwin Award potential for anti-vaxxers!
apprenticeearthwiz
There is an argument for universal vaccination for conditions that usually result in death or deformity and for which there are no other treatments. This is not the case with measles or many of the other conditions on the continually growing and hugely remunerative vaccination schedule.
MarkGatti
funny I thought the idea of vaccinations was to protect from a disease ,why are more vaxed kids getting it than unvaxed ? just unthinkable !. ,but just to get it straight ,big pharma have told us we will all die if we don't all get waxed, with a rapidly increasing list of expensive little mercury and aluminium ladened doses of a mix of human foetal and dead bits of harmful organisms [luckily only 50 people died last year due to flue vax oh and about 300 harmed for life , minor ,,we made millions for the company ]. , so if vaxxed people are getting sick it must be because of the silly people that haven't believed enough to pay up and get the jab . pretty obvious.. really .... ha and its funny how the naughty lawyers can't sue the drug companies for any clients proven to be harmed by a vax ,you would almost have to conclude the vax makers had good friends in the bunch making up the laws of the land ,,noo ...