From autism risks to mercury poisoning, here are 10 lies anti-vaxxers are spreading about the measles vaccine in the Pacific Northwest
A public health emergency is unfolding in the Pacific Northwest, and it was totally preventable.
A measles outbreak has sickened at least 41 kids and young adults in Clark County, Washington, along with a man from the Seattle area and someone in Oregon. One person has been hospitalized, and the governor of Washington has declared a state of emergency.So far, none of the patients whose immunization status has been confirmed got their measles vaccination.
It wasn't always this way. State records in Washington show that during the 2004-05 school year, vaccination rates for kindergartners in Clark County were above 91%. But during the 2017-18 school year, Clark County youngsters entering kindergarten had an immunization rate of 76.5%.
Back in that 2004 school year, the vaccination rate was "getting close" to a threshold for herd immunity (around 95%), Clark County public health director Alan Melnick told Business Insider.
Herd immunity is a level of vaccination at which people who can't safely get vaccines (because they have HIV, cancer, or other conditions which make their immune systems more fragile) are protected. When enough people around them are immunized, they can live within a kind of protective tribe of disease-free people, and are thus relatively "immune" to illnesses like measles.
But over the last decade, more and more people have been taking advantage of laws in Washington state that allow just about anybody to go to school without their shots for personal or philosophical reasons. Many of those parents are part of a growing movement of "anti-vaxxers" who worry about the safety of vaccines.
"My belief is that they have gone down because of all the misinformation going around," Melnick said of the county's vaccination rates.Opposition to vaccines is generally based on junk science that has been endorsed by celebrities like Jenny McCarthy who, with Oprah's help, falsely hinted that there may be something dangerous about the measles vaccine. Melnick said one need look no further than his county's official Facebook page to glimpse the rampant (and at times sophisticated) anti-vaccine propaganda that's spreading around the area.
Here are just a few of the ripest examples.