By now you have heard about the measles outbreak that started in the happiest place on earth: Disneyland. Lots of people sent me emails when this story first broke, but I confess, I was kind of over it. Everyone who blogs about vaccines (it’s not just me, can you believe it?) was talking about it, so I figured there was no need to do so. So an intentionally unvaccinated person went into one of the most crowded theme parks in the world, and spread a dirty little bug. (Is it really news anymore that unvaccinated people tend to cause infectious diseases to show up?). And after all, when I first heard the news in early January, it was only 9 cases (seven of which were, not surprisingly, unvaccinated). And they were limited to California and Oregon, so, I kept my mouth shut.
Then there were 2o suspected cases, in four states. And still, I said nothing.
It jumped to 26 cases.
Oops…next thing I know the count is up to 32. It’s now January 14th, and I hear that a clinic in the Sand Diego area has to close its doors when five people show up with measles symptoms. We now know, those poor kids did, in fact, have the disease (actually count was 6 at that clinic).
On January 19, San Diego reports the closing of another clinic and three more cases. Among three more unvaccinated people.
It’s getting exciting now, folks. The next day, we learn that there are now 53 confirmed cases of measles in four states and Mexico. And, guess what? Now five of the newest cases turn out to be Disneyland employees.
On January 20, Orange County, CA public health officials tells two dozen unvaccinated students stay home. They cannot risk measles spreading like wildfire through the school system. I would like to point out to you that Orange County happens to be the home base of Dr. Anti-Vaccine. Also known as Bob Sears. You remember? He’s the guy who made up his own vaccine schedule that has no basis in medicine or science and that contradicts the schedule recommended by, uh, like every major health care organization in the country. There’s an awful lot of unvaccinated people in Dr. Bob’s land who are just ripe for getting hit by a highly infectious disease that has come to visit. But, Dr. Bob doesn’t actually care that much. See, to Dr. Bob Sears, measles is not a big deal. It’s routine. It’s benign. And, if he starts saying that measles is actually a serious disease (that is, if he starts actually relying on science instead of his own la-la-land medicine), he’s going to have to back off telling parents it is ok not to vaccinate. And then he’s going to lose his schtick and well, he’s not going to do that.
But I digress. 53 cases of measles linked to some unvaccinated travelers to Disneyland. That’s impressive. And totally outrageous. Those unvaccinated people, every single one, put thousands of other visitors to Disneyland at risk, unvaccinated and vaccinated alike. Because, as we all know, vaccines are very effective but not perfect. Sometimes they fail and once you reintroduce a disease into a community (by not vaccinating, and letting the disease get a foothold again), you put us all at risk.
How many more of these “the unvaccinated person went to ______, and infected ____ people” stories are we going to have to hear before we take the anti-vaccine activists to task?
Are you not equally outraged?