Measles Outbreak in Arizona Partly Attributed To Vaccine Refusals

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“If the listener is not ready for the truth, it will fall upon deaf ears.”
                                                                                                                                             – J.R. Rain

Inspite of the numerous awareness campaigns and precautionary measures following the 2015 Disneyland Measles outbreak, ignorance has reared its ugly head yet again. Measles has struck USA yet again with Arizona being the epicentre of the largest measles outbreak in 2016 with 22 confirmed cases since May.

All the cases originated from the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility managed by the Corrections Corporation of America. According to Pinal County health director Thomas Schryer, it is likely that the infection was brought over by an unvaccinated migrant and that detainees have since been vaccinated. He also said the outbreak could be attributed in part to the refusal of some workers at the federal immigration detention center to get vaccinated. Many employees have been refusing or haven’t shown proof of vaccination, which might have amplified the issue.

“So they’re actually the ones that are passing along the measles among each other and then going out into the community,” said Schryer, who strongly recommended immediate vaccination.

Speaking to LA times, Arizona Department of Health Services Director Cara Christ said that the facility has been immunising a large number of CCA employees in the last week and are being more responsive. “Once they understand how important it is and the outcomes it can have on the community, they tend to cooperate. So we hope to get a cooperative response from ICE,” Christ said.

Health officials are gearing up by providing free vaccines and providing educational outreach to staffers and sending physicians to detention centers, in an effort to control the spread of infection.

Schryer also pointed out that the efforts to immunize people have been met with resistance partly, because people hugely underestimate the danger of measles. To know more about the complications arising out of Measles infection, click here.

[Watch this video: Why vaccination is your best bet]

History of the MMR vaccine controversy:

It started in 1998, with Andrew Wakefield publishing a now-retracted paper in the journal The Lancet, suggesting that MMR vaccination may predispose children to behavioral regression and developmental disorders like Autism.  Despite the small sample size (n=12), the uncontrolled design, and thespeculative nature of the conclusions, the paper received wide publicity, and MMR vaccination rates began to drop because parents were concerned about the risk of autism after vaccination. Vaccination rates plummeted in U.K and it helped establish the anti-vaccination movement in US.  A decade later, In 2010, the journal retracted the paper and struck him off the Medical register, but the misunderstanding still continued. In a National Consumers League survey conducted in the U.S. last year, one-third of parents with children under the age of 18 and 29 percent of adults overall believe that vaccinations can cause autism. The worrying part of the study was that half of them, still did not know that the paper was discredited and retracted. 

Multiple large epidemiological studies have been done following the 1998 study and almost all of the medical community disagrees with him. A 2002 study of 535,544 children vaccinated in Finland showed no association between MMR vaccination and encephalitis, aseptic meningitis or autism. The scientific consensus is that no evidence links the MMR vaccine to the development of autism, and that this vaccine’s benefits greatly outweigh its risks. 

The 2015 measles outbreak in the U.S.—which began at the Disneyland theme park in Southern California in late December 2014, spread to 21 states and infected 189 people. 

The bottomline is this: Major professional organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics and groups like Autism Speaks continue to emphasize the safety and efficacy of the MMR vaccine and urge parents to fully vaccinate their children. Dr. Greg Wallace, head of the domestic measles, mumps, rubella and polio team at the CDC suggests that all evidence points to the fact that, “Being exposed to the measles virus is a greater threat than any side effect or adverse reaction”.