The Denial Files: Measles Outbreak Shows Ignorance of a Few Impacts All of Us
September 4, 2013
We live with an anti-science movement that includes more than just climate denial, and crosses sociological and political boundaries – perhaps as an outgrowth of general disenchantment with things “modern”, and the realization that the “City of Tomorrow” visions of world’s fairs and Disney installations have not played out as planned.
Recent news items tell us of an outbreak of measles, rare in the US with the advent of effective vaccine prevention programs. The outbreak occurred in the congregation of a right wing mega-church in Texas, where the television evangelist Pastor had railed against “all of these shots” for innocent babies. While its easy to snicker at the southern creationist crowd, the problem exists among the Silicon Forest elite as well as the granola and sandal crowd.
As school begins in Seattle this week, it’s worth revisiting a disturbing fact: The Pacific Northwest is the nation’s hot spot for anti-vaccination free-riders.
Washington ranks seventh, at 4.6 percent, in the percentage of kindergartners whose parents last year demanded exemptions from mandatory vaccinations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Oregon (6.4 percent) has the nation’s worst rate, followed closely by Idaho (5.9 percent) and Alaska (5.6 percent).
Call it a frontier mentality, or counterculturalism, or whatever. It is based on unfounded fear, not science.
The anti-vaccination craze was fueled by a 1998 study in the British medical journal The Lancet, which suggested a link between the vaccinations for measles, mumps and rubella (the M.M.R. immunization) and autism. The study was retracted, subsequent research has disproved the link and, in 2010, Britain’s General Medical Council barred the researcher, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, from practicing medicine.