Don’t wait, vaccinate

Published 6:00 am Saturday, February 9, 2019

Over the last month, cases of measles have popped up around the United States. The disease first appeared in Washington, where there have been more than 50 confirmed illnesses.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have already been 79 measles cases across 10 states in 2019. Cases have popped up in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington. The Georgia case involved three family members in Atlanta, not far down the road.

In 2019, measles should be all but eradicated in the United States. Outside of a rare case here or there — usually linked to someone who traveled out of the country — this shouldn’t be a concern. Unfortunately, the anti-vaccine movement has made it possible for the disease to spread again in the United States.

Not only does the CDC say the vaccine is safe, it says that side effects from the shot would still be better than actually contracting the measles.

If you don’t believe me, check out the common side effects of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) shot — sore arm from the shot, fever, mild rash and temporary pain and stiffness in joints.

Anyone who comes down with the measles may experience fever, rash, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes. Other complications can include ear infection, diarrhea, pneumonia, brain damage and death.

Anyone questioning which of those is worse should read that last sentence again. Yes, you can die from the measles, and people do every year. The World Health Organization said that in 2017 there were 110,000 measles deaths worldwide, most coming in children under 5 years old. WHO also estimates that from 2000-2017 the measles vaccination prevented an estimated 21.1 million deaths.

Even people who were originally against the vaccine are now lining up to get it. Reports from Clark County, Washington — the area where the outbreak started — say that orders for measles vaccines are up 500 percent compared to the same month last year.  A nearby clinic told CNN said that it went from 263 measles shots in January 2018 to 1,444 in January 2019.

In the journalism world, we’re always in favor of people doing their own research before making a decision. However, in this instance, it’s hard to understand the other side of the argument.

The vaccine is the safest way to prevent the spread of a deadly disease, one that kills more than 100,000 people each year. Without the vaccine, measles would be a common illness in the United States and outbreaks would be far more common.

Science has proven that the vaccine is the best way to keep you and your children safe. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Get vaccinated.