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Anti-vaxx ignorance still rampant

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Since the measles outbreak at Disneyland in December, there have been 121 cases of measles reported in the United States between Jan. 1 and Feb. 6.

The question that comes to mind is why would a disease that has previously been eradicated by successful vaccinations make a comeback in 2015? The answer: the ignorance of anti-vaxxers.

According to the CDC, measles is a highly contagious airborne disease that can be spread through coughing and sneezing.

It can live for up to two hours on a surface or in the air where an infected person coughed or sneezed. It is so contagious that if one person has it, 90 percent of the people close to the infected person that are not immune or have not been vaccinated will also become infected.

In 1998, a British scientist, Andrew Wakefield, published a research paper in The Lancet, a British medical journal, where he claimed that the measles vaccine was linked to a rise in autism rates.

His research has been discredited and retracted in 2010, but he placed just the right amount of doubt in people’s minds and the rise of the anti-vaxxer movement began.

According to a Washington Post survey, 83 percent of Americans believe the measles vaccine is safe, while 9 percent do not and another 7 percent are unsure.

There have been many debates among politicians including Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Some claim parents should have some measure of choice in whether their children should be vaccinated, while others believe that vaccinations should be mandatory.

It is understandable that parents fear for the safety of their children. However, it is not just a matter of choice for parents, it is a social responsibility to have your children vaccinated.

Parents who choose not to vaccinate their children are not only putting their own kids in danger, they are also putting any child who is too young to be vaccinated or any child or person who has recently undergone chemotherapy in danger of being infected. That is irresponsible and unfair.

Vaccinations were created to help keep infectious diseases from spreading and to keep the public healthy and safe.

There is an insurmountable amount of evidence that proves vaccinations do not lead to autism. Wakefield’s evidence is 17 years old, inaccurate and has been discredited. The irrational fears placed in parents’ minds should have gone away with that discreditation. Anti-vaxxers are contributing to the state of fear that we all would have to live in if infectious, yet preventable diseases make a comeback.

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