Measles outbreak spreads to new states thanks to anti-vaccination campaigns

The state of Washington has declared an emergency of an outbreak of measles and now it appears the disease is spreading to several other states as well. From ABC News:

Health officials in Georgia, Hawaii and Oregon have now reported that there have been at least one — if not multiple — confirmed cases of measles in their states.

This comes amid an outbreak in Clark County, Washington, where there have been 38 confirmed cases of measles and 13 suspected cases.

The presence of the highly-contagious disease in other states is prompting warning calls.

This active cluster comes on the heels of 187 confirmed cases of measles in New York State this winter clustered in New York City and Rockland County in unvaccinated communities.

The spread of the disease to Hawaii has been connected to the Washington state outbreak. So far, a connection to Georgia remains uncertain. In that state three members of one family have the disease but the point of origin remains unclear. What all of the people coming down with the disease do have in common is that they were not vaccinated.

“These outbreaks are due to the anti-vaccine movement,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, told CBSN AM.

He stressed that the vaccine has been scientifically proven over many years to be safe and effective in preventing measles. However, some parents still refuse to vaccinate their kids.

Abigail Eckhart is one of them. She is refusing to vaccinate her youngest son because she said her middle child suffered severe reactions.

“If I could go back, I wouldn’t have vaccinated any of my kids,” Eckhart said.

I don’t think there are any good reasons not to vaccinate your kids but I guess someone could make an argument for not allowing the government to require you to do so. The problem is that vaccination only works so long as a high percentage of kids are vaccinated (“herd immunity”). If not, the disease could spread and potentially even infect some kids who have been vaccinated as well as those who haven’t. Most people survive this disease but it is serious and can result in hospitalization or death. So long as parents are sending their kids to public schools, they have an interest in making sure those schools are safe.