Well, here we are again, talking about an outbreak of a potentially deadly disease that is entirely preventable with a simple vaccine. Despite the fact that we know, based on decades of medical and scientific research, that vaccines are safe and effective at preventing disease, parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children or are delaying vaccines. As many as 40% of parents in the US don't follow the recommended vaccine schedule, choosing instead to delay or spread them out over concerns about their safety. What parents choose to do with their own children is entirely up to them, but not vaccinating your children affects more than just your family.
Case in point: a measles outbreak in Brooklyn that has sickened six children ranging in age from 11 months to 4 years old. Unfortunately, we're seeing a rise in measles clusters this year, and parents everywhere should be aware.
The outbreak in Brooklyn can be traced to one child, who was exposed to measles during a trip to Israel, where there is currently a large outbreak of measles. The child returned to the US, and exposed other children to the disease. Of the kids who've been diagnosed in Brooklyn, five were unvaccinated, either due to their age or their parents delaying vaccines. One of the children had received their measles vaccine, but had not yet developed the immunity.
Measles in incredibly contagious. It can be transmitted through air, and 90% of susceptible people who're are exposed contract the virus.
It can also lead to very serious and life-threatening complications like pneumonia and encephalitis, particularly in people with underdeveloped or compromised immune systems. Symptoms of measles include a high fever, runny nose, cough, and a rash that looks like red, flat spots.
The most frustrating part of this outbreak and the rise in measles clusters is that the disease is entirely preventable. By choosing to forgo or delay vaccines (just to be clear, there is no benefit to not following the CDC recommended vaccine schedule), parents are putting their own kids' lives at risk, and endangering the rest of the population. Vaccines are safe, they work, and they save lives.