Proving once again why it’s so important to vaccinate your children, the CDC reports that there are now over 800 cases of measles in America. This is the biggest outbreak since 1994, in which 958 cases were reported to the CDC. And the epidemic shows no signs of slowing down — there have been 75 new reports of measles cases this week alone, 66 of which are in the New York area.
The outbreak began when an unvaccinated child caught measles during a trip to Israel and spread the illness after returning home to New York. An infected New York resident’s visit to Detroit then triggered an outbreak in that area, and a similar case occurred in Connecticut. At this point, there have been cases of measles in nearly half of the 50 states. In addition to New York, Michigan, and Connecticut, the following states have been affected: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington.
The measles outbreak puts the vaccination debate front and center. Earlier this week, CNN reported that New York City health officials had sent summonses to 98 residents who were “non-compliant with the Emergency Order since the City began issuing summonses last week.” Elsewhere in the state, a “vaccine symposium” was held in Rockland County. Attended by hundreds of Ultra-Orthodox Jews, The New York Times reported that the event was centered around speeches from leaders of the anti-vaccination movement.
Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, emphasized that vaccinations are a public health priority and not immunizing children has dangerous repercussions. “We cannot state strongly enough: The overwhelming scientific evidence shows that vaccines are among the most effective and safest interventions to both prevent individual illness and protect public health,” Marks wrote in a statement issued by the FDA, adding that it’s not just about protecting yourself and your own children. Failing to vaccinate puts other people at risk, specifically those who can’t safely get vaccinations due to illnesses like cancer.
So, seriously — vaccinate your kids. Failing to do so is negligent and selfish. As Marks stated, parents aren’t simply putting their own child at risk by refusing to vaccinate them — they’re endangering the lives of others, including those who already have compromised immune systems.
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