Rash by rash and fever by fever, measles continues to spread. Health officials in Chicago are watching the case count tick upward. Nationally, measles has reached its highest level in two decades.
We know who’s primarily to blame: misinformed parents who harbor a needless and irresponsible fear of vaccines. Anti-vax parents imperil their own children and others by refusing vaccinations that repeatedly have been proved safe. Amid alarming outbreaks and warnings that measles can be fatal in a small number of cases, medical professionals and authorities are taking the right step: Pushing harder to bring resistors into line for the greater good.
Measles was declared eliminated from the United States in 2000, but more than 450 cases have been reported in the country this year. Just seven of those are in Illinois, which has a high vaccination rate, providing the state with what’s known as herd immunity. In an unusual move in the Chicago area, NorthShore University HealthSystem, Advocate Aurora Health and Lurie Children’s Hospital plan to give parents an extra push, sending letters warning of the risks to children who aren’t vaccinated against measles. New York tried educational efforts like distributing informational flyers. It banned unvaccinated children from attending school.
Now, Mayor Bill de Blasio, grappling with a significant outbreak in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities, has escalated the city’s actions, The New York Times reports. He declared a public health emergency and ordered residents of part of Brooklyn to be immunized or face potential fines of $1,000.
There is still plenty of conspiracy-fueling, anti-science rhetoric from high places.
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin said he forced his children to contract chicken pox by exposing them to a sick neighbor as kids. Doctors strongly discourage this type of deliberate exposure, despite such festive names as “chickenpox parties.”
Measles is resurgent, which is unfortunate. Worse, its return was avoidable.
Parents, the best response is to make sure your children are vaccinated, and spread the word to others. Medical professionals have a role to play. The well-being of children is at stake.
— Chicago Tribune