In the past few months there have been outbreaks of measles cases in several states including Washington State, Oregon, New York and one case in Massachusetts. Outbreaks of measles are not uncommon. They occur every single year and they cycle up and down. There have been no deaths due to measles decades. So why the sudden insanity over measles?
I had measles as a child in 1961. Due to good maternal care which included my mother’s famous chicken soup, watermelon and ice cream, I made a quick, full and complete recovery. There was no panic or fanfare. There were lots of puzzles and books, a really cool pair of red sunglasses and visits from my cousins who had already had measles. And, there was no vaccine.
The Rockland County New York emergency declaration case, which was struck down in court Friday at 5:15 p.m. appears to expose the insanity of today’s approach to public health. Instead of focusing on keeping those with active measles at home until the disease completed its course, the directive, by Rockland county administrator, sought to isolate healthy children who happen to have a religious exemption to vaccination. They were barred from any public place in which 10 or more persons could gather. The parents of these children, who might choose to defy the order, would be fined and possibly jailed. At the time, there were only 4 active cases of measles. I would say it makes sense to for anyone to remain at home with an active infection until they recover and the actions of the Rockland County Health Director and Administrator could have taken this common sense approach to isolate the sick. Instead they held vaccine clinics.
Most of the measles cases occurred in communities of Ultra Orthodox Jews. Rockland County has many and so does New York City. They have every right, just like all Americans to decide what is best for their families based on their beliefs. April 9, 2019, the New York City Health Director and Mayor DiBlasio announced a public health emergency. All persons who have not been vaccinated with MMR or who cannot show that they have immunity or a medical exemption, will be vaccinated or fined $1,000.00. Bills are currently in the New York State, Connecticut, Washington State and Oregon Legislatures to remove the Religious exemption to vaccination. So mandatory vaccination in these states is simply a few legislative votes away. Unless like Governor Andrew Cuomo expressed, the constitutionality of such restrictions is considered. https://nypost.com/2019/04/09/cuomo-questions-legality-of-enforced-vaccinations-in-brooklyn/
Rhode Island’s religious exemption is still law for those who choose not to vaccinate. In 2015, a bill was submitted in the Rhode Island Senate to remove it. It did not make it out of committee. Rhode Island has one of the highest vaccination rates in the nation, about 93%. New York’s rate is in the 90% range. According to the CDC, an official outbreak of measles needs only 3 cases. https://www.cdc.gov/measles/cases-outbreaks.htm
Here are some points to ponder:
Are less than 1,000 annual measles cases in a country of over 300 million people, a public health emergency?
Are we about to lose the right to informed consent and vaccine choice over measles fear? It appears Mayor DiBlasio is willing to do just that.
Is what has transpired in the past few months really about public health or is it about political influence and pharmaceutical profits?
We will see what the verdict in New York City will be.