Thanks to advances in modern medicine — namely, the vaccine that has been administered to virtually all American children in the last few decades, measles was considered eradicated in 2000. Last year, though, the disease came creeping back into the national consciousness, with more than a few reported outbreaks around the country. And, 2014 looks to be on track to break records in terms of measles cases, with the NYC outbreak following equally scary situations in LA and the Bay Area.
Of course, the last few years have also seen the emergence of an increasingly vocal anti-vaccination movement. Brought into the mainstream by the likes of Katie Couric, Jenny McCarthy, and, most recently, Kristin Cavallari, the "anti-vax" crowd has become a lightning rod of controversy on the Internet for their position that vaccines are not only unnecessary, but could cause everything from autism to schizophrenia.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, in the wake of the measles outbreak, numerous media outlets have drawn connections between this growing trend toward refusing standard vaccinations for newborns (such as the measles vaccine) and the reemergence of preventable, previously eradicated diseases. From measles to the recent cases of polio in Syria (which are thought to be the result of a lapse in the distribution of the polio vaccine that was at one time administered to every child in that country), many doctors (and frightened parents) are decrying the "lunacy" of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children against contagious, life-threatening, preventable illnesses.
But, others think the issue isn't anywhere near that simple. NYC-based physician Dr. Frank Lipman says, “I think the vaccine issue is very nuanced. It’s not a black or white issue.” He points to a study suggesting that the current measles vaccine may not be as protective as it used to be, citing this as evidence that it may be a mistake to hold anti-vax sentiment as totally responsible for the re-emergence of measles in America.
Of course, any claims one way or the other must be taken with a massive handful of salt — we simply don't have the numbers we need to determine the effect of the anti-vax movement on this particular situation. One thing's for sure, though: Measles is back — and there's still a vaccine that could potentially protect you (and your current and/or future children) from it. (The Daily Beast)