San Diego, CA - Recent outbreak of measles in school-aged children has uncovered that none of the children were immunized. Out of twelve childen who fell ill last month, nine were not allowed to be vaccinated due to parental objection.
Updated Information: Center For Disease Control Measles Outbreak. After reviewing conflicting numbers from the New York Times story and the Good Morning America story, I checked CDC information on the outbreak.
Of the twelve children, three were siblings. The initial contraction of the disease was from abroad and spread to siblings. They had Personal Belief Exemptions (PBE) from gettin immunized.
They exposed 376 school aged students to the disease, of which five contracted the disease.
Four others contracted the disease at a pediatricians office, three of those being infants who were not able to obtain immunizations yet.
Out of all who contracted the measles,eight had PBE's, which is different that what was reported by the New York Times.
In addition to those who contracted the measles, thirty-six students who had PBEs at the school were required to either go on mandatory 21-day quarantine or get the vaccine. Eleven opted to get the vaccine and the remaining students are on voluntary home quarantine.
An estimated seventy children were placed on voluntary home quarantine due to parental rejection of the vaccine or because of the age of the child.
Ongoing health measures are being addressed in Hawaii, as one of the infected infants flew on a plane to Hawaii.
March 24, 2008-According to the New York Times, last month's outbreak of measles affecting the twelve children hit only those who had not been innoculated. Of the twelve, three were still too young to receive the measles vaccine, while the others did not get the vaccine because their parents objected.
In light of this recent outbreak, it seems that many parents are opting against innoculating their children due to an increase in skepticism regarding the effects of the vaccines and their necessity in the absence of certain diseases.
In the school system, opting to NOT have a child vaccinated for certain reasons is called an exemption. For many parents, they are able to claim religious beliefs as a reason to not have their child vaccinated prior to enrolling them into the public school system.
Immunizations are a requirement for enrollment for most schools.
More recently, several states have begun to recognize personal exemptions as well, citing certain unproven ties to disorders, such as autism.
This belief has been further substantiated by a recent court settlement where a family of an autistic child received money because their child was given vaccinations when he had an underlying medical condition that might have triggered his autism, leading some far-reaching skeptics to extrapolate that vaccines cause autism.
Aside from those with weakend immune systems, underlying medical conditions or those who are too young, immunizations are proven to prevent life threatening and debilitating diseases.
They are also proven to prevent outbreaks that can prevent mass spread of deadly diseases, known as epidemics. Epidemics are not something we have seen as a country due to the use of immunizations.
Some vaccinations, such as the measles vaccine, are only ninety-five percent effective, according to the news report. Therefore, if a parent chooses anexemption, they are putting the remaining five percent at risk, as well as those who are too young to be innoculated.
One parent of a 6-year-old affected by the measle infected community who is opposed to the measles vaccination, but who believes in vaccinating using other vaccines states:
I refuse to sacrifice my children for the greater good,...I cannot deny that my child can put someone else at risk
According to data from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, over a 13-year period, the number of parents using "personal-belief exemptions" has risen from less than one percent up to around two and a half percent.
Despite the country still being about ninety percent appropriately immunized, there is a growing concern that the "personal" exemptions and absences of disease due to the successes of immunization will create a major health crises.
Because the number of deaths have dropped due to immunizations, many people who are opting for exemptions have never seen the debilitating side of the diseases. One pediatrician and infectious disease specialist in the affected area stated that:
Most of these parents have never seen measles, and don’t realize it could be a bad disease so they turn their concerns to unfounded risks. They do not perceive risk of the disease but perceive risk of the vaccine
and calls the exempters
parasites, of a sort
stating that they are essentially reaping the results of an innoculated society as opposed to a community that is free from disease and one that doesn't need vaccines.
Some interesting information about innoculations and exempters included in the article:
Exempters are usually from educated, financially stable families, despite stereotypes. They are often a certain "like-minded" parenting mindset.
Exemption laws vary state to state.
The easier it is to get an exemption, the higher the rate of exempters. The higher the rate of exempters, the higher the exemption cluster.
Exemption groups/clusters are prevalent in certain communities and neighborhoods, creating geographical nests of "exempters".
In San Diego, four of the cases of measels were from the same Charter School, which led seventeen additional students to be out of school due to the outbreak.
In California in 2007, out of the twenty-four people who were infected by pertussis, only two had been properly vaccinated.
In Canada, when the Hib vaccine was introduced, the cases of Hib fell from over 550 a year to under 10 a year, half of which were due to failed vaccine.
As parents continue to claim personal exemptions as their children move into the Public School System, an increase in public health risks begins to emerge, as is the case in San Diego last month.