New Study Shows Just How Dangerous It Is To NOT Vaccinate

Measles — a disease that was completely eliminated in the United States 15 years ago — has captured national attention recently, thanks to outbreaks among unvaccinated travelers who have contracted the disease abroad. At the same time, anti-vaccination sentiments have found footing among some parents worried over unfounded safety concerns.

Now, a new study shows just how closely the two phenomena are intertwined.

More than half of reported measles cases in recent outbreaks in the U.S. were among unvaccinated individuals — most of whom were intentionally unvaccinated for philosophical, rather than medical, reasons. In a third of the cases, researchers did not have enough information about the person’s vaccination history to tell if they’d been immunized.

A similar pattern held true for individuals who contracted pertussis, or whooping cough, another vaccine-preventable disease that hit its low point in this country in the late 1970s.

While previous studies have examined how anti-vaccination sentiments may contribute to localized outbreaks, Dr. Varun Phadke, a fellow in the division of infectious diseases with the Emory University School of Medicine and an author on the new investigation, told The Huffington Post that this latest investigation is much broader.

“Our study adds to this work by looking at the contribution of vaccine refusal to outbreaks of measles and pertussis in the U.S,” he said.

And that contribution, Phadke and his colleagues found, is significant.

In the study, published in JAMA on Tuesday, the researchers analyzed 18 published reports on measles outbreaks in the United States since the country declared it eliminated in 2000. Outbreaks since that time have generally been caused by visitors bringing the disease from overseas, and have grown in recent years, from 63 cases in 2010, to 667 in 2014. In 2015, there were 189 documented cases, many linked to the —> Read More