You would assume human health in developed countries would continuously progress, moving forward in perfect sync with medical developments.
However, in some ways there have actually been some pretty momentous steps backward in terms of keeping the next generation alive and well.
We are only in the early days of March, and yet 2019 has already been more cases of the measles in the US than were seen in the whole of 2017.
The cause of this worrying hike is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the worrying trend of unsubstantiated myths and bogus information about vaccinations which are still being spread on social media.
Concerning new statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal there have already been 159 individual measles cases throughout 10 US states in 2019. Around 50 per cent of these cases have been connected to one outbreak in Clark County, Washington, and Portland, Oregon.
This is a staggering figure when you consider there were just 120 measles cases in the entirety of 2017, with 86 cases in 2016.
On February 27, a hearing took place in congress among the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, regarding the severity of this dangerous threat to public health.
Ethan Lindenberger, the teen who chose to get vaccinated when he turned 18, said what's missing in this conversation to promote vaccines is reaching out to people on an anecdotal level.
He says a large part of the anti-vaxxer movement is based on stories rather than data.
— Sandhya Raman (@SandhyaWrites) March 5, 2019
A major study over 600,000 children found no link between vaccines and autism. By contrast, a major study of 600,000 adults found a direct link between anti-vaxxer behavior and general stupidity.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) March 6, 2019
Speaking at the hearing, Chair Diana DeGette made the following comments:
[Measles] is a highly contagious and potentially deadly disease that was once declared eliminated here in the United States – thanks to the development of a successful preventive vaccine.
Yet, despite that previous success, as we sit here today, we have communities across the country
scrambling to protect their residents – and we have parents, who are reading daily headlines about an
outbreak, worried about how they are going to protect their children and their families.
If there was ever one topic that should transcend politics or party-lines, this should be it.
Before the measles vaccine was developed in 1963, there were half-a-million cases of the measles being reported every year to the CDC. 48,000 people a year were being sent to the hospital and, as a result, as many as 500 people a year died as a result.
It wasn’t until the development of the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine – known as the MMR vaccine – that we, as a country, were able to stop this horrific illness.
But despite that success, here we are again – as I said, less than 20 years later – dealing with the fear associated with yet another outbreak of this disease.
— Adriana Gabriela HF (@gabriellairon) March 4, 2019
Anti-Vaxxer: Hey, did you hear the one about the kid with measles?
Vaccinated person: I don’t get it.
— You know (@Tmoney68) February 27, 2019
Will these disturbing new figures finally be enough to make anti-vaxxer parents think twice?
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.