On Friday, January 30, Baldwin Public Schools notified parents that a student at the elementary school showed symptoms of measles. The student has been tested and results should be known this week. A rise in preventable diseases has appeared in Northern Michigan since last autumn.
Measles appeared in Leelanau county late last autumn, but the few cases were isolated and no new cases appeared. The possible case in Lake County is an isolated case so far. Measles has the nation concerned after an outbreak occurred at Disneyland. The disease spread to other parts of the country and has health department officials working to stop the outbreaks before they become widespread.
Whooping cough has been in Northern Michigan since last autumn when an outbreak in Grand Traverse County forced for-profit charter school Grand Traverse Academy to close for an entire week. Whooping cough so far has spread out from Grand Traverse as far as Mecosta County, where one case of the disease appeared in Brookside Elementary School in Big Rapids.
The outbreak in preventable diseases in the United States fueled the debate recently over immunizations for children. Diseases that no one has seen in 50 years are back, largely due to the current anti-immunization movement. People believe that vaccinations are causing autism, a notion that has been disproved, yet still persists with the anti-vaccination movement. Politicians looking to for face time with cable news have been making statements about whether parents should vaccinate their children or not.
Chris Christie and Rand Paul have both publicly stated that parents should have the choice whether to vaccinate their children, and in Rand Paul’s case, believes that vaccinations can cause mental disorders. It’s important to remember that Rand Paul’s opthalmology license came from a licensing board that was made up of himself, his wife, and his father in law.
The problem we’re facing now in the United States is there are enough people who believe vaccinating their kids is harmful despite the evidence proving the opposite, that they are more afraid of protecting their children from getting sick over an unproven rumor of mental illness. Viruses that are 100% preventable are spreading, and the children who are not vaccinated get sick first. Nearly 20% of Grand Traverse Academy’s student body have immunization waivers in their records. The children without immunizations put everyone else at risk of catching the disease, and it spreads.
The people now insisting vaccinations are bad were the same people only months ago in a terror that Ebola was going to trigger the zombie apocalypse. Ebola was never a threat, but diseases like whooping cough and measles are potentially life threatening. This is why vaccinations were developed for these diseases, and those vaccinations successfully keep us safe – but it only works when everyone is vaccinated. It is the responsibility of every parent to keep their children safe, but it also important to ensure the safety of society. Fortunately, in Michigan, the rules for waiving immunizations for children before entering school was changed, making it much harder for negligent parents to put their children and everyone else in their community at risk. It’s irresponsible and unconscionable that measles and whooping cough are diseases we have to worry about again.