To health experts’ dismay, many parents who decide against vaccinating their children are not only from poor or marginalised communities but from well-off families too. Measles, a potentially deadly disease that was once eliminated in the US, has made a comeback in recent years.
It has reached college-going students whose families in affluent areas are skipping vaccinations. ‘It’s that hybrid-car community that says, ‘We’re not going to put chemicals in our children,’ Nina Shapiro of University of California was quoted as saying.
Measles cases are on the rise throughout California. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has issued a reminder to doctors that they must report all measles cases as soon as possible. ‘Parents have varied reasons for choosing not to immunise their children. Some are concerned that vaccinations raise the risk of autism although study after study has debunked this myth,’ Shapiro was quoted as saying in a Los Angeles Times report. These diseases do exist and we are already seeing some of them make a comeback in well-to-do families, she added.
Even in places where vaccinations are required, exemptions are easily obtained for religious or other reasons. Some people, it seems, have forgotten how devastating many communicable diseases are, she emphasised. Some private schools have vaccination rates as low as 20 percent. ‘Parents are willingly paying up to $25,000 a year to schools at which fewer than one in five kindergartners has been immunised against diseases like measles, polio, meningitis and pertussis,’ Shapiro explained. Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus; symptoms include rash, fever, runny nose and cough. (Read: Vaccines for your child – what you should know)
What is measles?
Measles is a highly contagious, serious disease caused by a virus. In 1980, before widespread vaccination, measles caused an estimated 2.6 million deaths each year.
It remains one of the leading causes of death among young children globally, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine. An estimated 139 300 people died from measles in 2010 – mostly children under the age of five.
Measles is caused by a virus in the paramyxovirus family. The measles virus normally grows in the cells that line the back of the throat and lungs. Measles is a human disease and is not known to occur in animals.
Accelerated immunization activities have had a major impact on reducing measles deaths. From 2001 to 2011 more than one billion children aged 9 months to 14 years who live in high risk countries were vaccinated against the disease. Global measles deaths have decreased by 74% from 535 300 in 2000 to 139 300 in 2010. (Read: Measles: All you need to know)
With inputs from IANS