Tensions in Oregon and Washington have boiled over between anti-vaxxers and parents who believe in science as a measles epidemic continues to ravage communities in the Pacific Northwest.
Measles is one of the most contagious and deadliest diseases in the world. It had previously been declared eradicated in the United States in 2000, but anti-vaxxers who refuse to vaccinate their kids based on the false belief that vaccines cause autism have allowed it to come back to our shores, where it is putting thousands of children at risk of death.
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Dozens of cases have been reported as the outbreak continues, and it is expected to get worse, which is causing many parents to fear for their kids and lash out at anti-vaxxers.
“It’s a dangerous time for him to be exposed,” Lauren Dunn, a nurse at Oregon Health & Science University and new mom told The Daily Beast. “And it’s a really scary time for me and my husband. Every time we bring him to daycare, it’s nerve-wracking. But there’s nothing we can do; my husband and I both work.”
“It’s negligent and self-centered on their part,” she said of anti-vaxxers.
Another parent, Ryan Brady, blasted the anti-vaxxer movement for turning the public health of the Portland area into something out of the 1890s.
“Portland prides itself on being so progressive, and yet it’s like we’re back in the 1890s,” he said. “People are freaked out. Parents with babies are scared to leave the house—and I don’t blame them. The parents who caused this are just plain irresponsible. You can raise your kids however you want. But this is a choice that affects other people’s children.”
Indeed, children who are too young to be vaccinated are the most at risk of contracting measles, and since measles can remain contagious hours after a contaminated person leaves a room, the chances of a child catching it basically anywhere in a public place skyrockets.
But the anti-vaxxers are so influential right now that even doctors are making it sound like vaccinations are bad.
“My wife and I got asked three or four times by doctors and nurses if we were sure we wanted to vaccinate our daughter,” Brady said. “The way they phrased it, we almost thought, ‘Wait, should we?’ It adds legitimacy to a bad idea when you’re given that option by a medical professional. It made us feel like opting out was a good, valid choice.”
Except it’s not, and medical professionals should know better. The MMR vaccine is one of the safest and most effective vaccines in the history of scientific achievement. Prior to its development, thousands of children died from the measles and various other viruses the vaccine prevents.
Humans in these times are lucky to have a vaccine because they never have to know the pain of losing a child to measles. But that’s going to change if anti-vaxxers have their way, and that’s why a school recently sent out an email to parents warning of potential exposure to measles due to low vaccination rates, resulting in many parents calling out anti-vaxxers for being irresponsible parents.
“Insane!!!! Parents that listened to Hollywood stars not vaccinating their kids—this is the result!” one said
“Honestly what is wrong with people?” another asked. “Let’s eradicate a disease — but then bring it back just for fun because we’re a stupid society!”
Anti-vaxxer parents are now whining about receiving threats and ridicule.
“I’ve been told I’m a terrible mother, that families like mine should live in quarantine, that we should be jailed—and that our son should be taken from us,” said a parent identified as Jodie B.
And maybe she should be. Exposing children to a disease that is easily preventable should be considered child abuse and parents should not only be punished for it, but for endangering the lives of other children throughout the community.
It’s true that the vaccine can have serious side-effects, but such cases are rare, and are not an excuse to not vaccinate. One woman who developed such a rare side-effect wrote a Twitter thread in support of vaccines despite her unfortunate situation.
She correctly pointed out that herd immunity saves lives and that the minuscule possibility of a child developing a rare side-effect is not sufficient reason to put them at risk of dying from a disease that by all rights should have remained wiped out.
Unfortunately, Oregon and Washington have laws on the books allowing parents to opt out of vaccinations, and until those are changed it’s only a matter of time before the first child dies of measles because of anti-vaxxer irresponsibility.
Featured Image: Wikimedia