Washington state is in the midst of yet another measles outbreak, with over 50 cases already and a public health emergency declared in Clark County. Back in 2015, the state garnered the dubious distinction of having the first measles death in the United States in 12 years. That death brought up discussions about whether to do away with the “philosophical or personal beliefs” exemption to vaccinating a child before they’re allowed to enter a public school, which inevitably led to a flame war between Jim Carrey and half of Twitter.
Only three states — California, Mississippi, and West Virginia — have entirely banned non-medical exemptions to vaccinating public school attendees, but Washington state lawmakers are now considering a similar rule. CBS reports that “hundreds” of anti-vaccine protesters gathered on Friday to declare they have a right to non-medical exemptions for their public school-attending children.
An estimated 7.9% of Clark County, Washington, kindergartners in the 2017-18 school year were unvaccinated, with most of those kids’ parents citing non-medical reasons for refusing vaccines. For herd immunity to work, at least 90 to 95% of people need to be vaccinated, and we’re seeing the effects of ignoring the science. Despite measles being officially declared “eliminated in the United States” in 2000, the number of measles cases have been increasing ever since, with 79 cases already in 2019, most of them in Washington state. The disease is so contagious that an unvaccinated person has a 90% chance of catching it if they are near an infected person, and the virus can linger in a room for up to two hours.
I’ve ranted about the topic of vaccines many, many, many, many, many times, so I’ll spare you another lecture. Instead, let’s look in on Twitter and see how people are reacting to the anti-vaccine protest…
There is a little good news, thankfully. Demand for measles vaccinations have risen 500% in Clark County as compared to this time last year. The director of public health in the county, Alan Melnick, didn’t mince words, saying, “I would rather it not take an outbreak for this to happen.”