The Disneyland measles outbreak has now spread to 14 states, with 98 confirmed cases. Health officials in Arizona have warned that 1,000 people could have been exposed and urged them to stay away from Super Bowl events. The White House suggested that everyone listen to scientists and vaccinate their children. And now, unvaccinated children have been sent home from some California schools.
And yet, despite all of this (and pleas from parents whose children have compromised immune systems), many California parents still don't see the need for vaccines.
The New York Times tracked down some of these parents. The paper reports:
"There is absolutely no reason to get the shot," said Crystal McDonald, whose 16-year-old daughter was one of 66 students sent home from Palm Desert High School for the next two weeks because they did not have full measles immunizations.
After researching the issue and reading information from a national anti-vaccine advocacy group, Ms. McDonald said she and her husband, a chiropractor, decided to raise their four children without vaccines. She said they ate well and had never been to the doctor, and she insisted that her daughter was healthier than many classmates. But when the school sent her home with a letter, Ms. McDonald's daughter was so concerned about missing two weeks of advanced-placement classes that she suggested simply getting a measles inoculation.
"I said, 'No, absolutely not,' " Ms. McDonald said. "I said, 'I'd rather you miss an entire semester than you get the shot.' "
In addition to McDonald, the NYT also found Kelly McMenimen, a mother in Lagunitas, CA who "meditated on it a lot" before deciding against vaccinating her son, Tobias.
She said she did not want "so many toxins" entering the slender body of a bright-eyed boy who loves math and geography.
Tobias has endured chickenpox and whooping cough, though Ms. McMenimen said the latter seemed more like a common cold. She considered a tetanus shot after he cut himself on a wire fence but decided against it: "He has such a strong immune system.
And if your eyeballs haven't popped out of your head yet, the Times also spoke to Dr. Eric Ball a pediatrician in Orange County, "where some schools report that 50 to 60 percent of their kindergartners are not fully vaccinated and that 20 to 40 percent of parents have sought a personal beliefs exemption to vaccination requirements." "Sometimes, I feel like we're practicing in the 1950s," Ball told the paper.
In the meantime, the rest of the world would like to remind the United States that measles killed 100,000 people worldwide last year.
Image via Dmitry Lobanov/Shutterstock.