If you do a quick google search for “measles,” you will learn that it is an extremely rare disease and preventable by vaccines. You might then ask why there have been over 700 cases in the United States this year.
The growing anti-vaxxer movement is beginning a nationwide epidemic that will affect everyone, even those not directly entrenched in this anti-science paranoia. Anti-vaxxers are threats to the health and safety of all of us, and their movement must come to an end.
College campuses are breeding grounds for diseases, as students live in close quarters and people are always interacting with one another. The LMU community is no different, and we need to protect ourselves from the possibility of a measles outbreak. According to the Loyolan, Student Health Services recently called for students to take responsibility over their health, allegric reactions and other medical conditions.
In some cases, it is medically unsafe for people to vaccinate — those with autoimmune disorders, allergic reactions and other medical conditions. Let’s call them necessary anti-vaxxers. Those who can’t get vaccinated are unique cases, but those who choose not to get vaccines for fear of autism or other unscientific reasons are hurting the rest of us, especially those who cannot be immunized.
Unfortunately, those Americans who have chosen to not get vaccines for personal reasons have negatively affected the whole country, even here in Los Angeles County. UCLA and Cal State L.A. have each had cases of measles on their campuses, forcing them to quarantine students who may have been in contact with the carrier. All it takes is one unvaccinated person to affect a whole community. In 2015, a person with measles traveled to Disneyland and infected a total of 125 people with the disease; if they all had their vaccinations this outbreak could have been prevented.
College students are especially susceptible because they were born around the time Andrew Wakefield published a highly unprofessional paper falsely claiming that vaccines cause autism. As a result, many parents opted out of vaccinating their babies in the late 90s.
Our campus is currently unaffected by the measles outbreak in L.A.; this may be in part because of LMU’s policy on vaccinations. Student Health Services (SHS) requires that incoming students submit an immunization record to prevent a health hold on their account.
All students are required to “complete tuberculosis screening and/or testing and provide documentation of two measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) immunization or proof of immunity (blood titer).”
The director of SHS, Katie Arce, reported that only 75 percent of recorded incoming students oblige to the requirement and provide their immunization records, according to the Loyolan. While this percentage is high, all it takes is one person with measles to spread the disease to others.
In the year 2000, measles was deemed eradicated by the CDC because it became rare, thanks to the once strong vaccination system in the United States.
LMU SHS released a community advisory that read, in part, “Measles Incidents Reported Near LMU — The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced that several locations near LMU, including LAX, UCLA and California State University, Los Angeles, have possibly been exposed to measles. SHS reminds community members of the importance of being vaccinated against communicable diseases such as measles.”
The advisory ended with the call to get your vaccinations if you haven’t already. It also said to practice healthy habits such as covering coughs/sneezes and washing hands often.
I encourage everyone to follow the advisory provided by SHS. If you don’t know if you are vaccinated, ask your parents. And if you know you aren’t already, I implore you to get vaccinated (unless you are in the necessary anti-vaxxer category).
If you can’t decide to get your vaccinations for yourself because you don’t see the point or don’t care, I ask you to do it for those who can’t. There is a concept called herd immunity, in which a population where the majority of people get their vaccinations can provide protection for those in the necessary anti-vaxxer category. Vaccinations work best if all of us do our part and get our shots.
This is the opinion of Sally Dean, a freshman political science major from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Tweet comments to @LAloyolan or email comments to the firstname.lastname@example.org.