As far as being a species goes, we're pretty good at eradicating things — bees, the ozone layer, and deadly, preventable diseases. For a time, at least.
Recently, Washington state has seen a spike in measles among the community of Clark County. "Since Jan. 1, 21 children have been infected with measles — the majority of them younger than 11. One adult also has measles," writes Molly Harbarger, a reporter for The Oregonian.
You might be wondering why the measles has been making a comeback after being dormant for so long.
Clark County is a religious county just on the border of Oregon and Washington and only 77.4 percent of children enrolled in public school have completed their vaccinations, according to the state record. A very troublesome number, meaning that at least 22.6 percent of students are unvaccinated to the full extent.
Washington state is one of the few states that allows medical exemptions from vaccinations for "personal beliefs."
Peter Hotez, the dean of National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College in Texas said to DailyMail in an article that Clark County is a hotspot and "ground-zero" for the anti-vaccination movement.
Vaccines are incredibly important in keeping a healthy society and some, like many in Clark County, choose to believe, vaccines are toxic and cause autism. This thought process is based off a study done by Dr. Andrew Wakefield, who has since lost his medical license and whose science has been debunked.
There are some that are physically unable to receive vaccines because of actual medical issues and allergies to ingredients within the vaccinations. They benefit from herd immunity, the idea that a community is resistant to a contagious infection if a majority are vaccinated or immune.
Parents that choose not to vaccinate their children because they believe it may cause autism or other issues are poking holes in the herd that is protecting those who medically cannot receive the vaccines and it's infuriating.
An individual's personal beliefs should not, in any way, affect the health of others. Millions of children receive the same vaccinations every day and aren't keeling over or developing autism (a chromosomal defect, I might add, that is decided before birth and is not caused by a vaccine). While yes, every child is different, and some may experience different side effects than others, the safety of vaccines is always being monitored, according to the CDC.
The importance of vaccinations has never been more relevant as a disease we once thought was impossible to contract has resurfaced. Measles was always still around, but incredibly rare.
The anti-vax movement has created pockets, like that of Clark County, where mass amounts of people are susceptible, and the disease could spread to other places and infect those who may not medically be able to receive any vaccines.
(For any concerns about the effects of the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine, go to cdc.gov/vaccines for more information about side effects and allergic reactions.)