As a disease previously thought to be almost completely eradicated from first world countries, the rampant comeback of the Measles has people questioning the cause of its return—and more importantly, the people behind this cause. With the number of “philosophical exemptions” from the MMR vaccine skyrocketing, it becomes clear as to why this deadly illness is making a return. Parents are no longer trusting decades of vaccine research and instead relying on their own sheltered knowledge of the medical field to make a life or death decision for other people’s children.
Basing their decision off of false claims, such as the MMR vaccine causing Autism, these parents are exposing their own children and countless of other kids to a serious, potentially fatal disease. In order to protect the safety of future generations, it is critical legislature is improved to ensure no child can attend a public school without receiving the MMR vaccine, unless medically unable. Without stricter enforcement of vaccines, the health of the youth of America will suffer dramatically.
In 1963, the combined measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine was introduced to the United States in hopes of reducing the ravaging outbreaks of these deadly diseases. Rampant for decades, hundreds of thousands of measles cases were reported in the US alone during 1962. The emergence of a vaccine that could prevent a disease once described as, “as inevitable as death and taxes” was seen as a miracle among members of the medical community and public worldwide (Babbott).
Since the original release of the vaccine over fifty years ago, there has been an estimated prevention of 52 million cases of measles, mumps, and rubella, meaning an approximate prevention of 17,400 intellectual disabilities and over 5,000 deaths (Bloch AB, Orenstein WA, Stetler HC. ). The positive history of the MMR vaccine has been thoroughly studied throughout the years and it has been effectively determined the vaccine’s benefits highly outweigh the rare drawbacks.
Over the past two decades the validity and necessity of the MMR Vaccine has been called into question by the general public, raising countless controversy and beginning the argument as to whether or not children should be legally required to receive it. Though “studies”, such as the one conducted by Dr. Palmer at University of Texas Health Sciences, have claimed to find a link between autism and the MMR vaccine, in reality these investigations result in a large generalization of data and hastily made associations.
Countless epidemiologists have conducted research to determine no credible link exists between the reception of the MMR Vaccine and Autism, and the statistics will back up this fact (Kaye). Individuals argue a viable link exists between Autism diagnoses and receiving the MMR vaccine; except none of them can actually agree on what exactly this so-called link even is. For example, one study by Vijendra Singh, an epidemiologist, stated that the MMR vaccine attacked the central nervous system through antibodies, while Dr. Palmer’s study, previously mentioned, declared that the ingredient Thermerisol found within the vaccine is the culprit for Autism.
Too frequently they are confusing correlation with causation, because although Autism shows symptoms around the same age as a child is receiving vaccines, this does not at all imply a link between the two and is a fallacious argument. When one parent decides not to vaccinate their child, it doesn’t just affect that one child; it produces a ripple effect leading to unnecessary harm all across the nation. This is seen in the 2015 California outbreak of measles.
In this case, about 88% of those who got the disease were either unvaccinated, or had an unknown/unrecorded history of receiving vaccines, showing that deciding to not vaccinate children can have destructive effects (Zipprich). The original patient diagnosed with the measles in this outbreak, or Patient Zero as they are frequently referred to, was also determined to be unvaccinated. By making the choice to not vaccinate the child, hundreds of other innocent kids were infected, creating a domino effect that even spread to other states in the US.
This case exposes the vulnerability of our nation’s children when we leave them unprotected and defenseless against a relentless illness, illustrating the vital need to make sure that all children are armed with the immunity of the MMR vaccine. Though the MMR vaccine is safe for children to receive once they are the minimum age, some kids are medically unable to get the vaccine due to various reasons. A common example of this is children who have been diagnosed with cancer; these valiant patients are already doing all they can to fight and cling on to life, as the cancer compromises their immune system.
Due to their illness, they typically become unable to receive vaccinations of any kind, in order to make sure that no other stress is placed on their body. Therefore, they are exposed to potentially dozens of illnesses, all of which can quickly become fatal if contracted due to the patient’s diminished ability to defend them self. When a parent decides not to vaccinate their healthy and able child, they are putting these sick children at an even higher risk of death, ruining hopes of survival.
Others who are also at risk include babies who are too young to receive the MMR vaccine; they too have no chance to defend themselves against this disease that has killed off millions. In the past decade, as the number of personal exemptions from vaccines has skyrocketed due to the facilitation of false claims, there has been a corresponding rise in the number of measles cases. The graphs above illustrate this correlation between the two factors, highlighting the recent spurts of the measles comeback.
As religious/philosophical exemptions jumped to a startling percentage in 2011, the number of Measles cases in the United States also took an alarming leap. The need to crackdown on these exemptions has never been so urgent in order to preserve the health of the nation’s youth; too frequently are parents letting false internet information cloud their judgement about giving their children the vaccines their immune systems so desperately require. Though the MMR vaccine provides peace of mind and almost guaranteed immunity from the measles, mumps, and rubella, an economic benefit is also apparent.
According to a study found in the National Institute of Public Health database, an online collection of medical journal articles, the MMR vaccine has saved the United States an estimated $5. 1 billion since its original introduction into the country. A study performed in 1997 involving a sample space from both the United States and Canada displayed that one person with measles and its associated complications, such as encephalitis, can cost $9,105 up front just in immediate and direct medical treatment (Riviere).
This excludes the long-term costs depending on the severity of disabilities acquired, loss of money due to time spent not working, and other outside factors. Despite the countless other benefits of receiving doses of the MMR vaccine, these savings also offer another incentive to the vaccine and can help promote a healthy economy. As a whole, the MMR vaccine has prevented millions of cases of the measles alone in the United States since its original introduction.
Saving, at the least, thousands of lives, this vaccine has been pivotal in ending the horrific measles endemic which has plagued the world for centuries. Making the vaccine mandatory for children to attend public school would not harm any of the general public, and instead could potentially save hundreds of lives and reduce deaths across the United States. The innocent youth of America deserve adequate protection against the disease that has senselessly cost the lives of millions; we must do it not only for our own children, but for the children of our neighbors, family, and communities.