Photo by CDC/ Amanda Mills

There has been another rash of recent measles outbreaks in New York City and California. Now with 19 known cases in NYC and 32 cases in California, you may be thinking, “Outbreak, huh?!” But consider that there were just three measles cases reported in California over the same period in 2013. More importantly, consider that by the year 2000 measles was actually considered to be an eradicated disease in the United States. In fact, from 2001 to 2010 there were just 60 U.S. measles cases reported each year on average, but last year The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that 189 U.S. people (that the CDC knows of), came down with measles, resulting in the second largest number of cases in the U.S. since measles was eliminated in 2000. So, while some 50 cases of measles in just two states seems slight, it’s actually a HUGE increase from previous years, and experts blame parents who refuse to vaccinate their kids.

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Photo by CDC: measles outbreak in third day

Most parents who choose not to vaccinate their kids, do so in the name of health, claiming that they’d like to avoid issues like vaccine side effects, mercury exposure, autism and more. The irony here is that measles is an extremely dangerous disease. Measles is a painful disease that can result in serious health complications and even death. The CDC reports that “On an average day, 430 children – 18 every hour – die of measles worldwide. In 2011, there were an estimated 158,000 measles deaths.” The ONLY reason the United States doesn’t have the same high rate of death due to measles is thanks to vaccines. That’s it. Period – vaccines help prevent the spread of measles. One reason measles cases have surged so quickly in the U.S. is because measles is very contagious. The CDC notes that if just one person has measles, a full 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected with the measles virus. For children too young to have been vaccinated yet or for kids who have missed a vital vaccine, this presents a huge problem if they’re around another child who has not been vaccinated because their parents fear vaccines. Jezebel puts it quite eloquently, stating that if you refuse to vaccinate your child against measles, “You are, essentially, turning your child into a biological weapon.” If you’re really against vaccines for your child, that’s your right, but you should seriously consider how you may be putting other children at serious risk for contracting this deadly and 100% preventable disease. To learn more, check out the links below:

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