RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment
Print

Wilson writes: "A measles outbreak which has spread from south-west Washington to other parts of the Pacific north-west has highlighted low vaccination rates in the region, and the danger the disease presents to unvaccinated children."

By 29 January, Clark county public health identified 36 confirmed cases of measles and 12 suspected cases. (photo: Chaideer Mahyuddin/AFP/Getty Images)
By 29 January, Clark county public health identified 36 confirmed cases of measles and 12 suspected cases. (photo: Chaideer Mahyuddin/AFP/Getty Images)


Measles Outbreak Sparks Concerns Over Anti-Vaccination Movement

By Jason Wilson, Guardian UK

03 February 19


Washington state outbreak highlights low vaccination rates and the danger the disease presents to unvaccinated children

measles outbreak which has spread from south-west Washington to other parts of the Pacific north-west has highlighted low vaccination rates in the region, and the danger the disease presents to unvaccinated children.

The development has sparked concerns that parents deliberately choosing not to vaccinate their children – out of scientifically unfounded concerns that vaccinations can harm them – are leading to epidemics that could easily be avoided.

Washington governor Jay Inslee recently declared a state of emergency in response to a growing number of measles cases in the city of Vancouver, which lies within Clark county in the south of the state.

By 29 January, Clark county public health (CCPH) had identified 36 confirmed cases of measles and 12 suspected cases. Twenty-five cases involved children under 10, 32 of those affected had not been immunized, and the remaining four had an unconfirmed vaccination status.

CCPH also listed a range of exposure sites including schools, health centers and restaurants. Prominent among the sites were a number of Vancouver-area evangelical churches and Christian academies.

Across the Columbia River in Portland, Oregon, one confirmed case had been identified by 29 January. Exposure sites there included a church; the Moda Center, where the Portland Trailblazers play NBA games; and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, an attraction which is popular with the city’s children. Another case has been confirmed in King county, which contains Seattle.

Clark county vaccination rates among children are low, and far below what they were in previous decades. Between the 2004-2005 school year and 2017-2018, vaccination rates among Clark county kindergartners fell from 91.4% to 76.5%.

State laws in Oregon and Washington require students who attend schools, or engage with other institutions beyond their home to be vaccinated against a range of diseases. But, unlike in other states, where parents can ask for exemptions on medical grounds, in Oregon and Washington parents can ask for exemptions on religious or philosophical grounds relatively easily.

They do so in significant numbers. According to the CDC, in Oregon 7.5% of kindergartners had non-medical exemptions from vaccinations in 2018. In Washington, it was 3.9%.

Dawn Nolt, an assistant professor of pediatric diseases at Doernbecher children’s hospital in Portland, said that while measles is only rarely deadly, “it has high consequences” for the short-term health of its victims. She said measles is also highly contagious, and will spread to 90% of unvaccinated people who are exposed to a carrier of the disease.

She has seen an increase in what practitioners call “vaccine hesitancy”, and she added: “I do wonder whether the advent of social media has empowered that anti-vaccine movement.”

Nolt said that vaccine hesitant parents lie on a spectrum. Some refuse vaccines altogether. Some pick and choose between vaccines based on their beliefs about which ones are harmful. Others accept vaccines, but only on a timeline of their choosing, according to fears about the “overloading” of infant immune systems with multiple vaccination.

She also said that refusal comes from a number of different motivations. Some parents have safety concerns. Some are resistant to authority or government. And some “believe conspiracy theories about vaccination and its outcomes”.

There is now a global concern over “vaccine hesitancy”, which the World Health Organization has named as one of its top threats to global health in 2019.

The measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) has been a particular focus of “anti-vaxxer” scare campaigns. In 1998, since discredited physician Andrew Wakefield published fraudulent research in the Lancet which suggested that the vaccine had a role in causing autism.

A range of physicians and medical authorities have directly attributed a subsequent decline in vaccinations in many parts of the western world to the publication of Wakefield’s material, which has led to a belief that there is a connection between vaccines and autism.

Wakefield is revered by many in the anti-vaccination movement, which appears to be growing. Now living in the US, he has spoken to gatherings of alternative health practitioners, and in 2016 directed an anti-vaccination propaganda film.

Nolt, meanwhile, said the approach to the problem of vaccine hesitancy is changing.

“When providers have talked to vaccine-hesitant parents in the past we have tried to be logical and to bombard them with facts. That doesn’t always work”, Not said.

“Now we don’t talk about the vaccine and how safe it is,” Not said. “Now we talk about the disease.”

Email This Page

e-max.it: your social media marketing partner
 

Comments   

A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

 
+3 # elizabethblock 2019-02-03 15:58
How quickly people forget.
I was, I think, ten years old when the Salk vaccine appeared, and I remember how scared my mother was about polio every summer.
There was an interview on the CBC with a mother who was an anti-vaxxer until all of her seven (7!) children came down with whooping cough at the same time. She has changed her mind, and is now trying to change the minds of others in her community.
 

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.

RSNRSN