Refusing to vaccinate their kids against measles, American parents are even deliberately exposing them to the deadly disease

From autism risks to mercury poisoning, 'anti-vaxxers' have spread vicious, panic-causing lies about the measles vaccine. The outbreak was imminent. And it's now spreading.

 |  5-minute read |   04-02-2019
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The governor of Washington declared a public health emergency last week after an outbreak of measles — a disease that was eliminated from the US in 2000.

As of January 28, there were 36 confirmed cases in the state of the highly contagious disease — in an unvaccinated population, one person with measles can reportedly infect 12 to 18 others.

While 'pox parties' are in vogue in the USA, measles parties are not too far behind. Both measles and chicken pox are contagious and spread through coughing and sneezing, or even coming in contact with an infected person. However, a person with measles can cough in a room and leave — hours later, if you’re unvaccinated, you could catch the virus from the droplets in the air the infected person left behind.

Reportedly, no other virus can do that.

But, unlike chicken pox, a person vaccinated against measles is highly unlikely to get the disease.

Clearly, the present outbreak is thanks to the non-believers of vaccination.

Anti-vaxxers: rejoice! You have done it — yet again!

The quinquagenarians and the sexagenarians would remember what it was to be coming down with measles.

Of those who were infected, some lived to tell the tale for many who didn’t. According to reports, in the US alone, there were 4 million cases of measles with 48,000 hospitalisations and 500 deaths — every year before the vaccine was introduced in 1963.

Not just in the US — measles was a leading killer of children globally as well.

main_measles-vaccine_020219091726.jpgFrom autism risks to poisoning, anti-vaxxers have spread big lies about the measles vaccine — the outbreak was imminent. (Source: Reuters)

However, once the vaccine was introduced, the numbers dwindled to a trickle. This is because those who have been properly vaccinated against measles will never get the infection — even if they’re exposed directly. Since the anti-vaxxers movement had not gained momentum then, US administration — through widespread vaccination — managed to get enough people immunised by the 2000s and outbreaks became uncommon. Deaths from measles were scarcely heard of.

However, 2019 has embarked on a sick note. There have been some of the worst outbreaks of measles in recent years. The reason is not very difficult to add up with some basic common sense — the anti-vaxxers are gaining ground and the administration got lax about vaccines.

A disease typically resurfaces when a traveller from the home country picks up the virus in another country (where measles is still common) and brings it back to the home country. If there is an unvaccinated community, they contract the virus — then, it is the old story of one infecting 12 to 18 more.

Closer home, one-third (around 56,000 in 2011) of all measles deaths worldwide happen in India, according to the World Health Organisation. Perhaps owing to this, the Department of Education issued an order to schools according to which all children aged nine months to less than 15 years will be provided with an additional dose of MR vaccine, regardless of previous vaccination status or history of measles/rubella-like illness and irrespective of the consent of the recipients or their legal guardians.

However, students of various private schools, including Modern School, Barakhamba Road (Delhi), filed a petition through their parents that sought to quash the notification.

The Delhi High Court put the vaccination drive — that was to embark on January 16, 2019 — on hold, and directed the DoE to coordinate with school principals and also issue advertisements through various modes, including national dailies, explaining the vaccine and its benefits. It also directed that the Delhi government seek the consent of parents. 

Bring on those measles, baby — not

As was the case with pox parties, social media is the biggest meeting ground for planning these parties — parents who refuse to immunise their children from infectious (and sometimes deadly) diseases plan social activities to deliberately expose their children to an infectious disease. They mistakenly consider it safer than vaccinations.

However, the saying is that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” The last time we heard, hell is not a great place to be in yourself, let alone leaving your children in.

And measles is a definite party pooper, even in hell!

main_measles_020219091813.jpgMeasles: The highly contagious disease that can cause severe diarrhoea, pneumonia and vision loss — and be fatal. (Source: Reuters)

The anti-vaxxers also infect other parents with their scepticism (at more or less at the same rate as measles). According to a report published by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), half of all parents with small children have been exposed to misinformation about vaccines on social media, and the most common reason not to vaccinate is the (misunderstood) fear of side-effects.

We opine that ignorance is more dangerous than measles.

So, whether you are tech savvy or not, attend and host parties or not, we urge you not to buy into fallacious propaganda against vaccines and gamble with your child's health and the health of other people's children.

Also read: Taking the kids to a 'pox party': Welcome to new-age American parenting. It's not pretty


Rajeshwari Ganesan Rajeshwari Ganesan @rajeshwaridotg

Assistant Editor, DailyO

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