In 2014, the United States suffered a record number of measles cases (well, a record since the disease was mostly eradicated once a vaccine was developed); in the first month of 2015, a multi-state outbreak linked to Disneyland resulted in 102 documented cases.
Much of the blame for the outbreak fell on the anti-vaccine community–the people who, for cultural or religious or superstitious reasons, don’t believe in vaccinating their kids. Up to a certain point, anti-vaxxers can get away with their nonsense, thanks to herd immunity. But once a certain threshold is reached, the disease can crop up again. Which is what we’re seeing now.
Johns Hopkins’s Dan Salmon, deputy director of the school’s Institute for Vaccine Safety, thinks that the anti-vaccine sentiment has less to do with science and more to do with ideology. “There are lots of people out there who aren’t against vaccines as much as they are against having the government tell them what to do,” Salmon told NJ.com. “There are lots of people who don’t trust or don’t like the government, and that spills over into the vaccine world.”
Salmon also told the New York Times’ Frank Bruni that we shouldn’t be lulled into a false sense of security just because no one has died of measles during the current outbreak: “I don’t think its fatality rate has decreased. We just haven’t had enough cases for someone to die.”
The Institute for Vaccine safety notes that a 32-year review of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine found it “effective, safe, and well-tolerated.”
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