Measles, the Superbowl, and the Insanity Leading Parents to NOT Vaccinate Children

I read where a measles outbreak in Indiana around the time of the recent Superbowl has made the news.

he controversy over vaccinating children — or really, not vaccinating children — has spread (literally) into to the mainstream. It seems there’s been a minor outbreak of measles linked to the Super Bowl.

Indiana health officials have confirmed 14 cases since the game, according to PBS. The officials suspect that the cases are linked to two individuals who had measles and had visited Super Bowl village before the game.

the reason there was an outbreak at all was apparently because of the small but persistent group of people who refuse to vaccinate their children. According to the official quoted by PBS, 13 of those who have been diagnosed with measles in Indiana have said they had previously declined the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine

Some lawmakers are actually siding with misguided parents on this front. USA Today reported last week that seven states are considering comprehensive opt-out laws.

Doctors are going the other way. Increasingly, surveys are finding that more and more doctors are refusing to treat patients who decline vaccinations.

A Wall Street Journal report last week cited several different surveys that revealed almost a third of doctors in Connecticut and a fifth of doctors in the Midwest dismiss patients who decline vaccinations.

I still remember that we were living in Germany at the time of one of the last documented small pox cases at the tail end of the eradication program. This was in the early 70’s, I think the last case was in Africa somewhere around 1977.

We had of course dutifully renewed our vaccinations and those of our small child before leaving the USA for our stay abroad.

I remember the news that was blazoned across the top of the front pages of the newspapers, with banner headlines, and the photos of the health care workers wearing what were essentially full cover hazmat suits as they collected and transported the victim to isolation at a special hospital.

I also remember as a child receiving the very first round of the polio vaccine at the public health clinic set up to ensure that all American children received it.

Ah, yes, those were the carefree days before vaccination for such diseases was available.

I feel so bad for not having had a very high chance of dying young from polio and smallpox. Heck, I really miss the old days of colonial America, when infant and child mortality rates from childhood and common infectious diseases insured a mortality rate running well over 50 percent.

In fact, we can thank sanitation, antibiotics and vaccination for the staggering increase in human population of the past few centuries. Before that, high death rates balanced out birth rates, and helped keep population levels fairly stable or growing only slowly.

I am also rather partial to and appreciative of antibiotics, since penicillin prevented my death at age five from scarlet fever. But that is another story, although obviously related.

If I were a practicing physician, I would join with those who simply refuse to treat patients who refuse to have their children vaccinated. If I were a political office holder, I would make sure that legislation was passed requiring vaccinations for children. No ifs. No ands. No buts. It is a clear threat to the common welfare not to prevent the ravages of diseases like polio and smallpox, and all the other childhood diseases, many of which, although easily survivable, can have lasting neurological damage that surfaces much later in adult life.


Author: Ron