Ana Ibarra Health

Measles outbreak heats up vaccine discussion

The current measles outbreak has many on high alert. And while yes, it’s worrisome, it’s important to note that most of the affected were children and adults who had not received an MMR vaccine-- for mumps, measles and rubella.

Measles, although highly contagious, is also highly preventable through vaccinations, according to health officials. If you and your children are vaccinated, you probably don’t have much to be concerned about.

The most updated information from the California Department of Public Health shows that 50 cases of measles linked to Disneyland visits have been confirmed in the state. Another 23 cases with no link to Disneyland visits have also been confirmed. Plus another15 cases outside of California.

The outbreak has reignited the controversy behind parents who opt to not vaccinate their children. Why would parents risk their child becoming ill?

According to the National Vaccine Information Center, a nonprofit that promotes options and education on the risks of vaccines, getting vaccinated is not always the answer. On its website, the nonprofit tells its readers that many times, vaccines fail to work, and that if they offer any protection, it’s usually only for only a short period of time. According to the site, vaccines can also cause reactions that may lead to permanent disability or even death.

Many people have also linked vaccines to autism. Public figures such as Sen. John McCain and actress Jenny McCarthy have been labeled as “anti-vaxers” for their known stance against vaccines. McCarthy, who has an autistic child, has been very active in the anti-vaccine movement, and has said she believes her son’s autism was caused by the MMR vaccine.

But the belief that there is a link between autism and vaccines has never been proven. Studies published in medical journals have rejected the idea that vaccines are associated with the risk of autism. The CDC has also published links to research that shows no relation between vaccines and an increased risk for autistic disorder.

Numerous times, health officials I’ve spoken to for previous articles have expressed their concern with parents who oppose vaccines. According to them, this way of thinking is not the smart way to go about preventing disease, at least from a public health perspective.

Now the question is--will this current outbreak convince any anti-vaxers to abandon their beliefs?