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    It's A Small World After All: Measles Outbreak Continues to Spread, Thanks To Anti-Vaxxers

    With a measles outbreak spreading, children under a year old and those who haven’t been vaccinated have been warned against visiting the Happiest Place on Earth. 

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    Dr. Gil Chavez, a representative of California’s Center for Infectious Diseases, told CNN that it is still safe for others to visit Disneyland, where the outbreak apparently took root in December.

    The outbreak has continued to spread, with nearly 100 cases, including at least 81 in California. Many of the California cases are among Orange County residents, but the disease has also reached other parts of the state, including the Bay Area, where the parents of 30 babies were asked to keep their children home following contact with measles patients. (The babies aren’t sick, according to Daily Kos, but were being kept home to reduce the chance of further exposure to the illness.)

    Besides California, states where there have been reports of measles include Utah, Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Nebraska, according to the LA Times.

    The Centers for Disease Control attributes a recent spike in measles infections to a decline in vaccinations—a decline that in turn can be chalked up to the anti-vaccination, or anti-vaxxer movement. The anti-vaxxer movement is largely built on the misconception that vaccines cause autism – a false fear Michele Bachmann rode during the 2012 election cycle, claiming one mother said her child had become “mentally retarded” from the HPV vaccine. Though the study from which the idea emerged has long been retracted, the idea has proven harder to eradicate than, well, a disease outbreak.

    However, the L.A. Times recently did a data analysis that indicated that in California more parents are vaccinating.

    “The number of California parents who cite personal beliefs in refusing to vaccinate their kindergartners dropped in 2014 for the first time in a dozen years,” the Times story said.

    “A state law that went into effect last year made it more difficult for parents to excuse kindergartners from vaccines. Instead of signing a form, parents now must get a signature from a healthcare provider saying that they have been counseled on the risks of rejecting vaccinations. Alternatively, they can declare they are followers of a religion that prohibits them from seeking medical advice from healthcare practitioners.” (Still, the story notes that the percentage of parents opting out of vaccinating their children is much higher than it was in 1996.)

     

    Image via Flickr

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