Disneyland, otherwise known as – The Happiest Place on Earth! Only it’s not so happy when measles are involved. A recent measles outbreak that began at Disneyland is spreading across California and it has caused school systems in California to rethink vaccination policies.
Measels isn’t a new disease but the resurgence in measels is concerning. In 2000 the United States declared measles eliminated. The measels vaccination became commonplace in 1963, prior to that date three to four hundred million people per year contracted the disease and around 500 people died annually.
The vaccination was effective in reducing measles outbreaks but an anti-vaccination movement centered around beliefs that risk of vaccination outweighs potential benefit has caused some parents to choose not to vaccinate their children. There are currently 59 cases of measels in California and an additional 8 cases in Utah, Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Mexico. Of those cases, 42 have been linked to the outbreak at Disneyland.
Schools in Orange County have barred students from attending if they do not have proof of measels vaccination regardless of reason for the exemption be it medical, personal or religious. Exemptions work until there is an outbreak of some sort and then protection of all trumps exemptions for a few.
Measels provide a good case study about the effectiveness of vaccinations. When vaccination rates are high, diseases such as measels and polio, can almost be eliminated. As vaccination rates decrease outbreaks increase.
There is a place for debate over vaccinations and personal belief but there is absolutely no debate about the effectiveness of vaccinations in improving population health.