In the wake of the Disneyland measles outbreak, there’s been a flood of news stories talking about the disease and, subsequently, vaccination. Stats have been cited. Policies have been debated. And a flurry of angry op-eds have cropped up arguing about the balance between choice and obligation.
It’s an important conversation. It’s great that we’re opening up a national dialogue about recent trends in immunization and how we can better protect our communities from preventable diseases. But beyond the bold headlines, striking infographics, and talking heads are real families who are being impacted. Measles can be very, very serious. While thankfully no deaths have occurred yet during this year’s outbreak, it’s not that uncommon in other parts of the world. In fact, measles killed more kids worldwide in 2013 than car accidents or AIDS. Despite having a safe and effective vaccine, it’s still a leading cause of death in young children across the globe. And even for those who survive, measles can leave them with a lifelong disability or even come back to cause an unexpected and rapid decline years later.
With the recent flurry of headlines and statistics, it’s easy to forget that real people are impacted by measles every day. But their stories are important. They remind us why we should be vocal about our support for vaccines. Why we need to encourage our friends and family to make sure they are up-to-date. Why we must continue to be advocates. So that families will never again have to go through what Rachel’s family went through.
Stories like hers are a reminder of where we’ve been. And why we must continue to be passionate, vocal advocates for vaccination. Please take a moment to listen: