Misinformation on Vaccines Causes Measles Outbreak


Michigan Health Blog

Emily Blount, Editor

 Measles, a deadly disease, could be on the rise again after being declared eradicated in the U.S. in 2000 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With three outbreaks of measles in the U.S. already in 2019 there are many questions about why measles is on the rise again and how to prevent it.

 Many outbreaks of measles occur among unvaccinated populations like the outbreak in the Amish community in Ohio in 2014 and the current outbreak in New York City among the Orthodox Jewish Community. Misinformation has been a large factor in the reason why the  Orthodox Jewish community has remained unvaccinated, reported Vox. Rabbi William Handler has been using debunked research to show a link between autism and the MMR vaccine. “The incidencies of children diagnosed with autism went up with people that had the MMR vaccine.  But autisim is a genetic condition that isn’t determined by getting a vaccine,” commented sophomore Nick Tysiachney.

The original report is from Doctor Andrew Wakefield and was retracted by the medical journal it was originally reported in. Wakefield also lost his medical license after the study was debunked. Many other parents are also using the fraudulent research to justify not vaccinating their children either.

    Over recent years after the misleading report by Wakefield there seems to have been more controversy about requiring vaccines by law, but the vaccination rate in Pa. is nearly the same as it was in 1996 according to the CDC. In all 50 states plus DC, the MMR vaccine which protects against measles, mumps, and rubella is required by law to enter kindergarten. However, exceptions are made for medical, religious or philosophical reasons.

  Among Pennsylvania kindergarteners 3.2 percent did not receive two or more doses of the MMR vaccine and 4.9 percent of kindergarteners were enrolled in school without all of the required vaccinations in the 2017-18 school year according to the PA Department of Health.

  Having all school age children vaccinated against the measles can lead to “herd immunity” which is defined as the resistance to the spread of a contagious disease within a population that results if a sufficiently high proportion of individuals are immune to the disease, especially through vaccination. Herd immunity can protect a large population of people from a deadly disease, but according to the Vaccine Knowledge Project by the University of Oxford “Unlike vaccination, herd immunity does not give a high level of individual protection, and so it is not a good alternative to getting vaccinated.”

  While vaccination is the best way to prevent a disease some people cannot be vaccinated like newborn babies, so herd immunity protects them from contracting the disease. Other people who benefit from herd immunity are elderly people, people undergoing chemotherapy, and people with HIV.

  “I think the benefits of vaccinating far outweigh any risks.  Even if a child whose parents don’t vaccinate them doesn’t get measles, they can spread it to people that are at risk like their grandparents or other people that didn’t get the vaccine like babies or people with immune problems,” sophomore Nick Tysiachney stated.