An onslaught of measles outbreaks began in late 2014 and has since expanded across 17 states, the case count reaching 121 reported infections since December. Last year’s total cases hit an impressive 644 infections, a number sure to pale against the ever-growing 2015 total.
Reasons for opting out of vaccinations are varied, but parents are choosing to not have their children immunized due to their belief that inoculations cause autism.
Major news outlets, including The New York Times and PBS, presented study results that universally show no link between vaccinations and autism.
Even after having all the evidence before them, parents are still saying no, and that is ludicrous to me. Misinformation that causes people to make dangerous decisions like opting out of keeping their kids safe has been going viral since the dark ages.
These parents are looking more and more like the 19th century people who thought bloodletting for health was a good idea. It would seem baseless fabrications spread as easily as the outbreaks they cause.
More to the point, children are at risk because of decisions that are being made for them. I feel as though the general consensus is to keep kids healthy and safe, not to consciously choose to let them get ill.
According to the CDC, encephalitis will occur in one in 1,000 kids infected with measles, leading to convulsions and mental handicaps. This makes the autism argument moot, regardless of how verifiable the argument is.
The strangest piece of news to come out of this outbreak of misinformation is that, according to TIME, some parents are throwing “measles parties” in which infected children are encouraged to play with uninfected children.
The alleged purpose of these gatherings is to create an organic resistance against measles in children by exposing them to the virus.
At this point, we might as well be equipping kids with explosives and sending them out into the neighborhood. The parties are not just nonsensical; they are dangerous. These parents are actively, deliberately risking the health—and even the lives, to a degree—of their own children because of their fear of autism.
Let it be known that autism should not be dreaded in any case, let alone this one. Not to say that the autism argument has a foot to stand on, but the notion that an autistic child should be a parent’s greatest fear is ableist and promotes such kids’ demonization.
The continued fear is a result of not understanding autism and should be weighed critically when considering the vaccine issue.
Barring vaccines, many people’s beliefs about the autistic spectrum are erroneous and based on hearsay, often untrue; with this considered, the argument against vaccination becomes even more unfounded.
The outbreaks will carry on so long as there are parents who are not self-aware enough to realize that the nation is rolling its collective eyes at how extreme they are acting.
The measles vaccine wasn’t invented so that adults could act this way. Inoculations are not given to put children at imaginary risks. Doctors did not pay for medical school so they could give children autism.
Ultimately, nobody, not even a child, should have decisions made for them if those decisions can endanger his or her life.