Fans of Jim Carrey, his ex Jenny McCarthy, and any other anti-vaxxer out there will be pleased to learn that their efforts to keep children safe has paid off. While these fearless warriors were out there protesting California’s mandatory vaccination law, a woman quietly died of measles. But you know, it was probably due to vaccinations in the first place.
The woman, who is unnamed, is the sixth person to contract measles in Clallam County, Washington. Slate reports that the vaccination rate there is much lower than it should be and that the victim likely contracted measles when she visited a health facility at which someone with measles was present. The victim’s immune system was already compromised due to medications she was taking, so the disease didn’t have a hard time taking hold. The woman died of pneumonia, which has been ruled a complication of the measles.
The Washington State Department of Health has released a statement reminding the public how important it is to vaccinate, not just for children’s protection, but for the good of the entire community where medical reasons stop some members from being able to receive vaccinations which prevent their dying of old-timey diseases like mumps and rubella.
This tragic situation illustrates the importance of immunizing as many people as possible to provide a high level of community protection against measles. People with compromised immune systems often cannot be vaccinated against measles. Even when vaccinated, they may not have a good immune response when exposed to disease; they may be especially vulnerable to disease outbreaks. Public health officials recommend that everyone who is eligible for the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine get vaccinated so they can help protect themselves, their families, and the vulnerable people in their community.
Whether anyone will listen to the state department of health over Facebook memes is anyone’s guess, but Slate does point out how incredibly fucked up it is that anti-vaxxers are making it more difficult for the public to get accurate information about vaccines. It also offers a solution for the anti-vaxxers who want to take part in public services.
Let me be very, very clear: Anti-vax rhetoric like that makes people scared to get vaccinated. Rates drop, herd immunity drops, outbreaks occur, and people get sick. Some die. This is a direct, step-by-step chain.
No one is forcing you to get vaccinated. If you want your children to attend school in California, then yes, you have to get hem vaccinated unless there’s a pressing medical reason. But no one is coming to your door, holding you down, and injecting you with anything. You still have a choice. That choice boils down to this: If you want to rely on public services, then you have to support those services. One method of support is making sure you have minimized the risk of your child giving other children dangerous infectious diseases.
Too bad neither the writer at Slate or Washington’s department of health have ever starred in Me, Myself & Irene. The public might be a little more trustful of their ideas if they had.
Contact the author at email@example.com.
Image via Getty