(Update: If you’re interested in measles, and its behavior pre- and post-vaccination, I have a fairly detailed five-part series on the subject starting here.)
|Susano-o no Mikoto making pact with spirits of measles
and other diseases (Katsushika Hokusa / Soga, 1860.)
© The Trustees of the British Museum
It’s happening again; vaccinations have been so successful that Americans are becoming complacent and forget what “disease” is. Snake-oil pedlars and profiteers are selling alarmism, people decide not to vaccinate, and, guess what, diseases surge back. The latest preventable outbreak is measles;1 there are already over 130 measles cases in the first half of this year, twice the annual average for the past decade. And these are local cases, not imports; for the first time in years, most of these cases, some 85%, are not imported.2
These cases are being spread by the unvaccinated; by people who, from fear, apathy, or ignorance, have avoided getting their child vaccinated.
What did measles look like before vaccination? Here’s a chart showing case numbers before and after vaccination in the mid-1960s. Note the scale, in hundreds of thousands of annual cases.
But measles is an amusing and harmless childhood disease, isn’t it?
That’s not showing the permanently brain-damaged survivors (about twice as many as deaths), or the thousands of hospitalizations.
Of the 131 cases in this year’s outbreaks, “112 (91%) were unvaccinated or had unknown vaccination status. Among these 112 patients, 95 (85%) were eligible for vaccination, and 63 (66%) of those were unvaccinated because of philosophical or religious beliefs.”1
I don’t know about those 63 peoples’ parents, but personally I’m philosophically opposed to having my children risk a lifetime of brain damage.