Protect you and your family from measles | Reporter’s notebook

  • Thu Feb 7th, 2019 1:30am
  • Life

Vaccinate your kids.

Myths abound that vaccines do more harm than good. They spread across the internet like a plague — pun intended — fueled by citations to a “scientific study” that has been disproven time and time again.

A 1999 study published by British surgeon Andrew Wakefield suggested that the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine was causing autism in children. The paper has since been proven false, redacted from the journal it was published in and Wakefield’s medical license revoked. There is no evidence, supported by decades of research, that even remotely indicates that vaccines cause autism. Plus, even if they did, is a child having autism worse than them dying from a preventable disease?

Another claim is that natural immunity is better than “artificial” immunity through vaccinations. One in 500 people who get measles die from it — and that’s just measles. Other, more serious, diseases have been eradicated because of immunizations. Take polio for example, one in 200 patients experienced permanent paralyses. Due to vaccinations, polio is now eradicated in the United States, and nearly across the world. In these instances, the human immune system can’t compete, and opting for the natural course puts people in real danger.

To make matters worse, diseases are often most contagious prior to being diagnosed, meaning anyone not yet realizing they have measles puts those with compromised immune systems, including infants, children and seniors, in jeopardy.

The highly contagious measles, similar to the flu, spreads through the air. The infected person can unwittingly pass on the virus to those next to them through breathing, coughing and sneezing. This issue was referenced in a press release from Gov. Jay Inslee’s office, warning that, “because measles is contagious before people realize they are sick, people who are not vaccinated may spread the disease without knowing.”

Fewer than than 20 years ago, measles was nearly eradicated. Not a single case was reported in over a year. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the disease is still around because many parents stopped vaccinating their children.

With 6.1 percent of students attending public school unvaccinated against measles, San Juan County has the lowest vaccination rate in the state. That means if, or rather, when measles touches the San Juans, this community would be hit hard. Six percent of the public school system, not to mention others with weakend immune systems, could at best become severely ill, at worse — die.

Fortunately, the San Juan County Department of Health and Community Services is currently reporting no cases of the measles.

Before measles, mumps or other worse preventable diseases makes an appearance in this community, let’s dispense with the fears and conspiracy theories. For the health of your children, your neighbors, your neighbor’s children and grandparents, make an appointment with your family doctor and make sure your family is vaccinated.