The ongoing debate over vaccinations in the U.S. has led to eight outbreaks of measles this year, now totaling in at 159 confirmed cases. Medical professionals claim the outbreaks are the result of individuals refusing vaccinations for them or their children due to religious beliefs or before traveling abroad. According to CNN, this may be the largest outbreak in 17 years, with New York accounting for 58 of the cases. While federal health officials argue these cases are due to refused vaccinations, they fail to address rising public concern around vaccine safety.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is concerned that communities of people are saying no to vaccinations, as measles is highly contagious and can be life-threatening. However, there are no reported deaths resulting frommeasles this year, but there have been 17 hospitalizations. There are clear signs that the CDC is not doing enough to address concerns about vaccination.
Instead of instituting policies that account for people who refuse vaccination, the CDC continues to simply promote vaccination without change in policy. For example, the CDC needs to create policies that focus on evaluating travelers who choose to travel without vaccination, and properly address public concerns regarding the safety of vaccinations.
Some believe the recent measles outbreak is because of concerns that the MMR vaccine is linked to autism. Physician, scientist, and Autism Media Channel director Dr. Andrew Wakefield proposed that there is a link between stomach disorders and autism, and more specifically the MMR vaccine and autism. This alerted many parents about getting their children vaccinated.
Many naturopathic and homeopathic doctors are in support of Dr. Andrew Wakefield's movement against vaccinations. Dr. Jayne Donegan, British general practitioner and homoeopathic physician, states, "… the figures from the Office for National Statistics, we see that 95% of the people who used to die from measles stopped dying before the vaccine was introduced in 1968 and similarly 99% of the people who used to die of whooping cough."
While the claims against vaccinations have received much scrutiny from scientists, the CDC, and medical health professionals, a minority of the public is still resistant to vaccinations. Parents are also questioning the reliability of mainstream media's support for vaccinations.
In Vaccine: The Debate in Modern America, author Mark Largent cites a California mother who refused to get her son vaccinated for measles: "When I began to read about vaccines and how they work, I saw medical studies, not given to us by the mainstream media, connecting them with neurological disorders, asthma and immunology."
With an increased number of vaccines leading to multiple lawsuits and claims worldwide, the CDC and other governmental organizations need to prepare for an influx of unvaccinated travelers and opposition, and create policies to keep citizens safe.
The key is that these organizations develop screening methods that are effective and timely to better protect society from various diseases and viruses. A long-term strategy in monitoring travelers who may be carrying infectious viruses is possibly the only way to secure our borders from outbreaks.