What others say: Measles outbreak a reminder to vaccinate

  • Wednesday, June 18, 2014 5:48pm
  • Opinion

A disease once on its way to oblivion apparently is on the rise — and headed this way, say health officials locally and nationwide. So forget rumors you might have heard about vaccinations and make sure you and your children have had one.

That’s the message coming this week from health officials about a resurgence in cases of measles nationwide.

The Centers for Disease Control reported this month that measles has reached a 20-year high, and a big reason for the increase is a decrease in the number of people being vaccinated, especially children.

Pitt County Health Director John Morrow told The Daily Reflector that with measles’ virtual disappearance in years past, parents today are not aware of its potentially terrible effects.

That’s one reason they might not worry much about making sure their children receive the vaccine that would protect them.

Morrow also cited a report that originated in England years ago as another reason for the decline in vaccinations. The report suggested that some of the ingredients in the vaccine could cause other childhood illnesses, including autism.

The researcher behind this report had falsified data, Morrow said, but by the time that became broadly known the rumor that the vaccine was harmful had “gone viral.”

As a result, the threat of a measles comeback today is real. In the last five months, measles has caused more U.S. illnesses than in any entire year since 1996, said the CDC. The disease spreads easily through the air and in a closed room infected droplets can linger for up to two hours after a sick person leaves.

There have been 16 outbreaks producing 397 cases of the highly contagious respiratory disease in 20 states, including nearby Virginia and Tennessee …

So vigilance and awareness are in order to head it off, and it’s certainly not too soon to vaccinate any who need protection from this unwanted visitor from the past.

Let’s just hope it’s not too late.

— The Daily Reflector, Greenville, North Carolina,

June 16

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