Over the winter holidays, families from around the country flocked to California so they could indulge their senses, debit cards, and insanity by taking a trip to Disney theme parks, namely Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. That’s pretty typical stuff. Disney theme parks are very attractive to families and it’s a way to keep kids from developing cabin fever over the course of the winter holidays. However, I’m sure the families that attended these lands of overpriced enchantment expected to come home with snow globes, t-shirts, and pictures, not measles.
There is another measles outbreak upon us, linked to these parks and what can only be assumed as unvaccinated children. Health officials have linked 42 cases of measles to the Disney outbreak, in which the majority of cases, 36, are in California (Chang 2015). Furthermore, two cases have been discovered in Washington and Utah, while one case has been diagnosed in Colorado and another case appeared in Mexico (Chang 2015). Of course, a Disneyland measles outbreak shouldn’t be too hard to grasp, seeing as how 2014 set a record with 644 cases in 27 states, the highest number of cases since measles was declared eliminated in the United States back in 2000, and to put that figure in context, 2014’s total number of measles cases was three times as high as 2011’s, the second most abundant year since declared elimination with just over 200 cases (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2015). Since investigators have yet to discern who “patient zero” was, and because the measles are highly contagious, health officials are recommending quarantines for people who may be unvaccinated and may have come into close contact with someone who has tested positive for the disease (Chang 2015).
Moreover, that previous statement raises and interesting point. It’s likely that the catalyst for this outbreak is an unvaccinated child. While I believe everyone should be able to express the right to make their own decisions — and even parents have the right to express their right to make their own decisions in respect to their children (to a degree, anyway) — there is still something called safety, and if I may be frank here, safety supersedes “rights.”
While parents have the right to not vaccinate their kids, but parents who actually display some parental responsibility have the right to be sure their kids can mingle among the world without fear of coming down with a 19th century debilitating condition. These vaccines that large swaths of parents are refusing to allow administered to their kids have saved tens of millions of lives, rendering horrifying plagues like tuberculosis, rubella, and measles ultimately into nothing more than the occasional blip in under-developed nations. Because of vaccines, life expectancies dramatically increased and less tombstones tells the world of elementary school-aged children violently plucked from the world by one of nature’s acts of biological aggression. Vaccines are more than just medical breakthroughs — they have contributed to the survival of the human species and the stability of human population.
But, to some parents, that doesn’t seem to matter much. Because of some quack doctors citing some quack science, propagated by a quack actress with an agenda, and further rendered into the public square by quack parents who believed them, there are many, many children in the United States (and around the world) whose parents have decided these scientific and technological godsends aren’t worth the possibility of their kids developing autism, even though there is absolutely no legitimate evidence at all that vaccines cause autism. Because of this susceptibility, millions of parents are allowing their children’s immune systems to live in a time when drinking water stood a mathematical chance of giving someone cholera, five-year-olds were crippled by polio, and the “South shall rise again” sympathy was championed by men and women who actually took part in the American Civil War.
Again, people have the right to do as they see fit, but just because a right exists, doesn’t mean that it trumps responsibility. Responsible parents vaccinate their kids. Responsible parents would not risk the well-being of their children for a fear that can easily be debunked with a Google search. Responsible parents would take the word of a scientist over a celebrity… well, I mean, I guess if they were a radical far-right conservative then they actually wouldn’t.
This is just my two cents on the matter.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Measles Cases and Outbreaks.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13 Jan. 2015. Web. 16 Jan. 2015.
Chang, Alicia. “Q&A: Measles Pops up in Outbreak Linked to Disney Parks.” Yahoo! News. Yahoo!, 16 Jan. 2015. Web. 16 Jan. 2015.