On January 11th, 2019 the Charlotte Hornets took on the Portland Trailblazers. Imagine going to support your local sports team and the next day it is revealed you were exposed to a dangerous disease that has been largely eradicated by vaccinations?
Well, that is exactly what happened to Portland Trailblazers fans several weeks ago. A fan with measles attended the game and potentially spread this disease to anybody who came in contact with him. After this story broke, more reports followed around the state of Washington of people contracting the measles infection. Last week, Washington Clark County issued a public health emergency. It was reported that 22 people had been diagnosed with measles, 21 of them were children and 19 of the 21 did not have vaccinations for this disease. As of January 26, the total number had grown to 31.
Why the Portland, Oregon area? According to the Clark County vaccinations data, the area has a 78% vaccination rate (well below the 92-94% public health requirement) and was dubbed the “Anti-Vax hot spot” by media outlets.
These outbreaks of diseases that have been largely eradicated in America, but keep popping up and are causing a global epidemic. So much so, that the World Health Organization (WHO) listed “Vaccination Hesitancy” as one of the top global health threats. This threat is caused by several factors, most notably groups of people called “Anti-Vaxxers” and their numbers are growing as celebrities and famous people push this narrative to their large fan bases. There are also large groups of people who are skeptical of government, big pharmaceutical companies and the U.S. healthcare system. Another factor that isn’t discussed as much is America’s global decline in education and was recently ranked 31st in the global PISA rankings for science, math and reading.
Sooner or later, a government intervention will be needed to provide education on how vaccinations work and remedy this global health issue. If your personal choice to not be vaccinated can harm large groups of people, it is no longer personal. Politicians may want to pay attention to California, which recently won a decision in 2018 about mandatory vaccinations for public and private schools.