Thanks a lot, Jenny McCarthy — and all the rest of you who aren’t vaccinating your kids. This year is on track to be the worst for measles in more than a decade.
That’s according to new numbers released by the U.S. Centers Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is pointing its latex-gloved finger squarely at people refusing to vaccinate. That’s because nearly two-thirds of the reported cases happened in communities where many people don’t vaccinate their children for religious or philosophical reasons. The largest outbreak was in New York, where 58 people contracted measles in a community where many refuse to be vaccinated for religious reasons.
As CNN reports, there have been 159 cases of measles so far this year. If that trend continues, that will be more than any year since 1996 when there were 500 cases reported.
Before the vaccination, hundreds of thousands of people suffered from measles every year. Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus. It’s nothing to sneeze at either. According to the CDC, one to three out of every 1,000 children in the United States who get measles will die from the disease, even with the best of care. Even if complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis aren’t deadly, they can make children very sick; in 2011, nearly 40% of children under the age of 5 who got measles had to be treated in the hospital. If you’re not vaccinated, you put yourself and others at risk.
“This is very bad. This is horrible,” pediatric infectious disease expert, Dr. Buddy Creech, told CNN. “The complications of measles are not to be toyed with, and they’re not altogether rare.”
But hey, wanna know how to avoid all that sickness and death? Get your kids an MMR vaccine. The CDC recommends that kids get two doses — the first at 12 months of age and the second before entering school. You not vaccinating your child based on unfounded autism rumors puts my baby at a very real risk until I can get him vaccinated on his first birthday.
I firmly believe that if you fail to take reasonable precautions to prevent your child from transmitting a deadly virus to my child, you should bear the cost of that risk. As bioethicist Arthur L. Caplan wrote in a provocative paper in the Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, “One can make a legitimate, state-sanctioned choice not to vaccinate, but that does not protect the person making that choice against the consequences of that choice for others.”
As Slate reports, since epidemiologists can now figure out exactly where viral infections come from, the authors of the paper argue that parents who don’t vaccinate and endanger another child are clearly at fault and could be charged with criminally negligent homicide or sued for damages.
In other words: if your kid lands my baby in the hospital with measles, I will hunt you down and sue you, just the same as if your kid intentionally injured my kid on a playground.
Image source: CDC.gov
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