The anti-vaxxer movement is causing measles outbreaks
You might be aware of the anti-vaxxer movement, mostly because they’re often the butt of memeable, internet jokes, highlighting their long-debunked belief that vaccines cause autism. Most of their campaign is based on the discredited 1998 study suggesting that the MMR vaccine is the cause of autism. But while numerous subsequent studies have revealed that it’s all a pile of old tripe, one new paper suggests that actively avoiding vaccinations is far more problematic – it may be responsible for the gradual rise of measles in the United States.
Researchers studied 1,789 reported cases of measles in the US between 2001 and 2015, discovering that the number of outbreaks was on the rise. Since the Anti-Vaxxer Movement’s growth in popularity, the number of cases has nearly doubled, jumping from 0.28 per million in 2001 to 0.56 per million cases in 2015. This may not sound like a lot, but when you compare it to the 40 cases per million reported worldwide, it’s a genuinely worrying trend.
Quite unsurprisingly, the researchers found that of the 1,243 people who had contracted the illness nearly 70% of them had not been vaccinated.
In other words, the researchers suggest, it’s the failure to vaccinate children rather than the vaccine itself that has seen the sudden uptick in measles.
In fact, a failure to vaccinate can have negative effects on the broader community as a whole. A previous study suggests that even a small 5% drop in the use of the MMR vaccine for children aged between two and 11 would result in the tripling of measles in that age group. The most vulnerable segment of the population fall into this age bracket, with unvaccinated infants and toddlers being at the highest risk of fatal complications.
With incidences of measles falling as people get older, it’s especially important for infants to be protected by the vaccine, the researchers note.
The evidence against anti-vaxxers is pretty overwhelming – even studies funded by anti-vaxxing groups have a tendency to come to unfortunate conclusions.