Measles in the US is spreading in such an extent that there have been more reports of measles cases in the first three months of 2019 than in the entire year of 2019. Even though the US declared itself measles-free about two decades ago, The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recently reported 387 measles cases so far, which is 15 more than the total number in the year 2018. Washington is one of the worst affected cities where the disease has been spreading quickly among growing ranks of those who chose not to vaccinate themselves or their children.
An assistant clinical professor in pharmacy and health sciences, Brandon Dionne at the Northeastern University, is of the belief that the choice not to vaccinate affects another population, too: people whose immune systems prevent them from receiving immunisations altogether. It’s highly infectious, which can spread through the air, so one doesn’t necessarily need to come in contact with someone who has measles to get it, being in the same room as someone is enough.
Dionne says “Most healthy people can tolerate the measles. The real risk is for the groups of people who can’t, either because they have compromised immune systems or medical conditions that would otherwise prevent them from being immunised”. Dionne explains that part of the problem with a measles vaccine is that it has become a victim of its own success. “The vaccine has been so effective at suppressing measles that very few people generally get the disease” he adds.
He further says “The scarcity of the disease, combined with the circulation of misinformation about the harms of vaccines, means more and more people are weighing the risks and choosing not to vaccinate themselves or their children. But the real risk calculation to consider is this: Even if you don’t think you could benefit from the vaccines, there are others who can’t protect themselves who can benefit from your vaccination”.
Shahjadi Jemim Rahman