With Measles on the Rise, Will Anti-Vaxx Parents Change Their Tune?

The vaccine debate in the US is certainly a hot one, but that might soon change.  After a big measles outbreak in Washington State, residents of Clark County seem to have had a change of heart.  You see, Clark County is one of those places in America where people seem to be a little less convinced of the need—and morality—of vaccines.  You could say that many anti-vaxxers live here.

And the numbers definitely back up the story:  In 2017, only 78 percent of kindergartners, in Clark County, entered school having received their full immunization and/or vaccinations.  This is 7 percent below the state average.  But so far, 50 cases of measles have already cropped up; and health experts expect to see many more before these numbers start to decline.  

To be fair, some of these children did receive vaccinations, but of the 50 (or so) cases that have been so far diagnosed, more than 85 percent were in children who had not been vaccinated. 

Fortunately, county health officials are smarter than well-meaning parents and stocked up with a few extra vaccines this year. Actually, the county ordered 530 doses of measles vaccines (there are two types) last year.  This year, they ordered roughly five times as many, at 3,150 doses.   According to the CDC, the success rates for two doses of the current MMR vaccine is 97 percent.

What is unfortunate, is that Clark County does, in fact, appear to be home to more than average anti-vaxxing parents.  Even in the midst of this outbreak, another 700 people gathered at a public hearing in Olympia to oppose a bill that would put more requirements on families who are trying to avoid legally mandated vaccinations for their children.  This bill would, individually, make it harder for parents to opt-out of measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccinations for their school-age children.

This incidence also comes at a time when the convenience of the internet allows parents to boldly expose their inexperience with and ignorance to modern medicine.  While there is certainly reasonable concern that any vaccine or medication could cause side effects (like Autism) or be contaminated with a foreign body (like Vitamin A).  Regardless of what these parents believe, health experts continue to promise that there is no relation between vaccines and various health conditions; and doctors are definitely administering certified medicines to patients.