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Serious Measles Outbreaks Focus Attention on Those Without Vaccinations


Recent outbreaks of measles in the Philippines, Madagascar and Japan have taken their toll. Lives are at stake! Diseases we, in America, consider practically to have been eradicated are popping up again in other countries and in our own! Immunizations can prevent childhood deaths.

The outbreaks of measles that occurred in Seattle, Manila, Madagascar, and Japan could have been averted had people–especially children–received the vaccine(s). February 7, 2019, Jason Gutierrez, of The New York Times, reported of the Philippines: “The Department of Health said that measles had killed 55 children age 4 or younger at San Lazaro Hospital in Manila since the start of the year.” (New York Times, 02/07/2019)

The Guardian reported: “as of December 2018, there were more than 20,000 reported measles cases in the Philippines, a 500% increase on the year before.” And, “in the Philippines, vaccinations are currently only at 55% according to UNICEF, down 15% on last year. This has been blamed mainly on fear-mongering over inoculations.” (The Guardian, Hannah Ellis-Petersen, 2/12/2019) At last count, there have been 203 deaths due to measles in the Philippines. (Outbreak News Today, 2/24/2019)

Newsweek published the following: “Last month, … the World Health Organization declared “vaccine hesitancy” as one of the major global health threats in 2019, with a noted 30 percent increase in global incidence of measles. It’s believed that the anti-vaccination sentiment was what led to measles outbreaks in Oregon, New York, Texas, Washington and elsewhere in the U.S.” (“Anti-Vax Religious Group Says Sorry for Helping Cause Massive Measles Outbreak”, Newsweek, Tom O’Connor, 2/21/2019)

In the U.S., it’s not only the reticence to get measles vaccinations that threatens children, at this writing, the flu is so serious in New Jersey, three children have died due to flu. “Schools have had to close as NJ’s flu scare has become ‘widespread,’ and the number of test cases have quadrupled over the past 2 months.” A dangerous strain that caused a 2009 pandemic has re-emerged in New Jersey, according to the state’s Department of Health. (New Jersey (Ridgewood-Glen Rock) Patch, Tom Davis, Patch National Staff, 2/26/19)

Physicians and scientists are also in a quandary over another health challenge called Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM)–prevalent in children–which seems to mimic polio in some respects. In 2018, there were 215 confirmed cases of AFM which occurred in 40 states across the U.S., the number of which appeared to spike in August-September, according to the CDC. So, if a vaccine is developed to check more diseases, like AFM and others, will our children– and the population at large– continue to be at risk–if parents don’t allow children to be vaccinated?

Author: Marianne Halterman

Marianne is a member of the SafeKids Coalition of the Central Shenandoah Valley.

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