However, another outbreak of measles is endangering children, this in the state of Washington. Of the 37 people already infected in this outbreak, at least 32 were not vaccinated against measles and 35 were under 18 years old. Experts say that this outbreak was fairly easy to predict, and could have been prevented if more children in the area were vaccinated. The situation raises the question: how many more children will get sick before the vaccination rates increase?
Measles has been unleashed around the world, with outbreaks in the United States. UU In New York, New Jersey and now in the state of Washington. Last year, 349 people became infected with measles, which makes it the second worst year of measles since 2000, when health officials determined that the disease had been eliminated in the United States. UU This deadly infection can be prevented with the safe and effective vaccine against measles, but not all states have closed the gaps that allow parents to exempt their children from vaccination for non-medical reasons.
In Clark County, Washington, where at least 25 children under the age of 10 are sick with measles, nearly 8 percent of children entering kindergarten in 2017 had omitted the required immunizations, according to the Washington Post. That is worrisome because the virus is particularly dangerous for children. It is well known to cause rash and fever, but it can also cause pneumonia, brain damage and death. And it's incredibly contagious, according to the CDC. Being in the same room as someone who has measles, even two hours after leaving it, can put you at risk if you are not vaccinated.
That's why the vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) is so important; People who are too young or too sick to get the vaccine depend on everyone around them getting vaccinated to stay healthy. "Once a measles outbreak begins, the most victimized are babies under 12 months old who are not yet old enough to be vaccinated against measles," says Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. "A father in Clark County, Washington, has to live in fear of going out with his baby to Walmart or the public library."
The 50 states of the USA UU They require that children receive certain vaccines before they start school, but there are gaps that allow children not to be vaccinated. There are medical exemptions for children who can not get immunizations for health reasons, and religious exemptions for children whose religions forbid it. There are also 17 states that allow parents to skip vaccines for their children because of their personal beliefs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The state of Washington is one of them, for now. As the number of measles cases increases, a new bill could change that, at least, for the MMR vaccine, according to King 5 News.
We have seen state legislatures change their tone and toughen these loopholes after the mbadive outbreaks of the past. In late 2014 and early 2015, 147 people were infected with measles in an outbreak linked to Disneyland in California. Most of them were not vaccinated, according to the CDC. In response, California pbaded a law that reversed non-medical immunization waivers, making it one of three states to do so, along with Mississippi and West Virginia.
It's a case study on the kind of change that can occur after a major outbreak, says Leila Barraza, an badistant professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Arizona. "In public health, we never want more outbreaks," she says. But the buds can immediate efforts to change the policy, Barazza wrote for the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2015. After Disneyland outbreaks, lawmakers across the country worked to change vaccination laws, and some were successful, such as California and Vermont, which eliminated the state's philosophical immunization exemption. "Every time you have a big outbreak like this, it really brings vaccination and vaccine-preventable diseases to the forefront of everyone's minds," she says.
But outbreaks are a high price to pay for the change, particularly because the consequences of vaccine vacillation are so obvious, says Hotez. "It's very frustrating because you can see that this is coming through the tracks."