Measles Outbreak Exemptions

A measles, mumps and rubella vaccine sits on a counter February 2015 at a pediatrics clinic in Greenbrae, California.

Choosing not to vaccinate a child has deadly consequences for the family making the decision and the population. With recent preventable outbreaks, it is imperative to public safety for the U.S. to make vaccinations mandatory for all individuals.

In 2018, there were 349 cases of measles, the second highest number of annual infections in America since its eradication in 2000, according to a Jan. 10 CDC report. In 2019, there have already been 39 cases of measles in the U.S., and the number continues to rise, according to a Jan. 30 CNN article.

The most recent incident surfaced Feb. 3 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, according to a Feb. 3 Illinois Public Media News report. A mumps outbreak occurred Dec. 5 at Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois, according to a Dec. 5 ABC news report.

The anti-vaccination movement dovetails with a more generalized movement of discrediting and mistrusting science, given the information conflicts with personal beliefs. Any standpoint denying hard facts in wake of its own bias is a standpoint built on ignorance.

Recent skepticism surrounding vaccinations has resulted in roughly 100,000 children being unvaccinated against 14 diseases, according to an Oct. 18 CDC report.

“The movement to discourage people from vaccinating has multiplied the number of kids that are not vaccinated,” Carolyn Morris, senior economics major and mother of four, said. “It’s resulting in these kids having to experience life-threatening illnesses they otherwise would not have had to deal with whatsoever because of medical advancements.”

Vaccinating children sets them up for a healthy life, free of preventable medical complications. For children born from 1994 to 2013, immunizations are predicted to prevent an estimated 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths, according to a 2015 CDC study.

The effort for immunization needs to be nationwide, as deadly illness knows no borders. Vaccines work, and choosing not to vaccinate children is exceedingly irresponsible.

“We don’t just do it for our individual children, but we do it so that our children can’t spread diseases to other children,” Morris said. “Societally, we need to do it. Vaccinations eradicated some huge diseases that are life threatening, and we need to take advantage of those medical breakthroughs.”

The measles vaccine is extremely effective. One dose is about 93 percent effective in preventing the disease when in contact, according to the CDC. Two doses are about 97 percent effective.

Although incredibly unlikely, those who have been vaccinated can contract the disease as well, according to the CDC. This happens to one out of every 300 vaccinated individuals. All it takes is one person without a vaccine to become infected and spread the disease.

Giving parents the option not to vaccinate their children endangers public health. The most effective solution is to revoke the choice from parents who shield themselves from the truth.