Diary

The Biggest Disease Breakouts Occur In The Largest Anti-vaccine Hotspots 

FILE- This Feb. 6, 2015, file photo shows a measles vaccine is shown on a countertop at the Tamalpais Pediatrics clinic in Greenbrae, Calif. The Australian government has ramped up pressure on parents who oppose vaccination by threatening to withhold child care and other payments from families that fail to immunize their children. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

All over the United States (and the world), disease breakouts—especially measles—are happening in the most vulnerable areas: places where few get vaccinated. Here’s the unarguable data.

In last week’s piece on vaccination (if you didn’t get the opportunity to read it, check out the article here), we discussed the massive impact immunizations had, and will continue to have, on diseases in the United States—either completely, or closely, eradicating deadly illnesses.

However, many anti-vaxxers assert the drop in diseases after vaccines were introduced to huge health advances occurring at the same time. Like the anti-vaccination movement as a whole, this position is also somewhat understandable. But, like their other positions, it’s also wrong. High vaccination rates lead to less diseases and fewer deaths, that much is apparent. But the reverse is also true; in areas where few individuals get immunized, diseases skyrocket and outbreaks occur. For proof, here’s seven examples of lower vaccination rates equaling more illnesses:

Washington State: According to a recently-released PLOS Medicine study, Washington is home to two out of the 15 biggest anti-vaccine communities in the U.S., located in cities Seattle and Spokane. Both these ares have huge numbers of nonmedical exemptions reported every year, especially as state law used to permit parents to opt-out of vaccination due to personal or philosophical beliefs. Washington experienced measles breakouts all over the state, the largest of which occurred in Clark County when the vaccination rate plummeted from 96.4% to 84.5%, far below the threshold of necessary herd immunity. Thus far, in 2019, Washington health officials have tracked and recorded 86 total cases. The state also tracked confirmed vaccination status, finding, out of the 86 individuals who contracted measles, 66 were never vaccinated against the disease and 11 were unknown. As the Associated Press reported, in an attempt to stop future outbreaks, Washington State enacted legislation on April 23, 2019 banning “parents’ ability to claim a personal or philosophical exemption from vaccinating their children for measles, although medical and religious exemptions will remain.”

Southern Michigan: Michigan cities, Troy, Warren, and Detroit are also listed as three of the top 15 anti-vaccine hotspots, again according to the PLOS Medicine study. Those metropolises are extremely high in nonmedical vaccine exemptions (the state permits residents to opt-out due to “personal or philosophical-belief”), leading to an overall lower vaccination rate. Not coincidentally, Southwest Michigan has seen a massive measles breakout in 2019 with 41 confirmed cases of the highly-contagious disease. 

El Paso (TX): Texas also allows its citizens the option of a “personal or philosophical-belief” nonmedical vaccine exemption, leading to more individuals opting-out of vaccination. As San Antonio’s Rivard Report documents, “[In Texas] the percentage of kindergartners claiming non-medical exemptions grew by 157 percent since 2010…” Furthermore, according to the PLOS Medicine study, the state houses four of America’s most anti-immunization cities, Houston, Fort Worth, Plano, and Austin. Consequently, Texas has a lower vaccination rate than other safer, healthier states. In 2019, El Paso alone recorded six cases of measles, twice the amount a disease in one area needs to be classified as an outbreak by the CDC. 

Los Angeles Region (CA): Several reports were released in 2014-2015 finding some parts of L.A. were as unvaccinated as third-world countries and, therefore, contracting pertussis (whopping cough) at extraordinary rates. In an attempt to stop the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases, California enacted SB277, which ended the ability of parents to opt-out their public-schooled children from vaccines due to “personal beliefs.” However, individuals found other ways to avoid immunization. As the Los Angeles Times reported, “40% of students at one small school in Sebastopol, Calif., obtained medical exemptions, and it strains credulity that they all have conditions that make vaccination dangerous for them. At another Sonoma County school, only one-third of the students are fully vaccinated either because they have medical exemptions or carried over a personal belief exemption obtained before 2016.” Needless to say, vaccination rates in L.A. are extremely low; and, predictably, a large measles breakout occurred. 38 people were reported to have contracted the disease. 

New York City (NY): In 2018, travelers returning from the state of Israel brought back measles to the largely-unvaccinated Orthodox Jewish community living within NYC, leading to a massive outbreak. 654 recorded cases of the deadly and contagious disease led to the NYC Health Commissioner ordering every unvaccinated man, woman, and child to immediately get immunized. The number of people vaccinated against measles at the start of the outbreak was so low, 33,805 reported doses of the MMR vaccine have been administered by officials. Determined to put a stop to future outbreaks, New York State no longer tolerates nonmedical exemptions from certain mandatory vaccinations, issues fines to select families whose children have not received the MMR immunization, and mandates exclusion from school if a child is not vaccinated. 

University Areas in England: It’s not only the United States experiencing surging rates of vaccine-preventable diseases, England is, too. As the Telegraph reports, 301 cases of measles have been recorded and 2,028 confirmed cases of mumps have occurred, leading to the UK’s loss of its World Health Organization “measles-free” status. Due to huge populations of largely unvaccinated university students, the diseases have caused breakouts and spread like wildfire, approximately 88% of individuals who have contracted measles were not vaccinated for the disease. 

Auckland (New Zealand): A massive measles outbreak is currently occurring in New Zealand with 1,059 people infected with the disease. However, one city with a low vaccination rate is responsible for more than 80% of the cases. Approximately 881 cases were recorded in the harbor city of Auckland, with more people contracting the disease every day. The rate of vaccination in Auckland is so poor, some high school nurses are being trained to administer immunizations to students, pop-up clinics have recently vaccinated more than 300 individuals, and New Zealand’s Health Ministry is calling for every young person to get the MMR vaccine. 

As the data proves, vaccines provide a major protection against deadly and highly-contagious diseases; and when individuals don’t get immunized, that protection is removed and the illnesses return with a vengeance. So, do the opposite, get vaccinated and make sure others are, too. Vaccines work and are safe, as well as incredibly effective. 

What is YOUR opinion on vaccination? Do you live in any of these areas? Have you been at all effected by these breakouts? Is there another specific vaccine-related issue or subject you’d like to see covered by this series? Share your thoughts and let me know in the comments below!! Thanks for reading, I’ll be back with more, soon.