Despite pediatricians urging parents to vaccinate their children against measles in the face of an outbreak that began at Disneyland in California and has ballooned to more than 80 people in seven states, anti-vaccine California parents are holding firm in not protecting their kids from the highly infectious disease, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Even though studies showing vaccinations can cause autism have been thoroughly discredited, the anti-vaxxer movement continues to grow as epidemiologists worry about large-scale outbreaks.
Orange County, California, has become a hotbed of anti-vaxxer sentiment, with the 8.6 percent of parents in the Capistrano Unified School District requesting a vaccine exemption for their kids — more than three times the state average.
Dee Klocke, whose children attend the Waldorf School in Orange County — where 41 percent of the kindergartners were unvaccinated when they entered school this year — dismissed concerns about her children getting sick.
“What if they experience it. So what?” she said, before adding, “Maybe I’m saying that just because it hasn’t happened yet.”
Costa Mesa city councilman Gary Monahan has refused to vaccinate four of his six children after one of his sons was diagnosed with autism after receiving a vaccination, and admits that it may sound crazy to other people.
“How do I say this without sounding crazy?” he explained. “I don’t want anyone to get measles … but you have to make it easier for the parents through the health system to do it the right way. Pounding three live viruses into somebody at 1 year old is devastating.”
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, measles can be especially severe in babies, toddlers and pregnant women, as well as some adults. Especially vulnerable are infants younger than 12 months, before they get their first dose of the vaccine known as MMR — for measles, mumps and rubella.
Nicole, a mother of two from Mission Viejo who asked that her last name not be used, said two doctors have refused to see her children because she won’t allow them to be vaccinated.
“It’s such an unpopular thing to not vaccinate,” she said. “I don’t want to be paraded through the mud for my choice.”
She states that she keeps her children healthy by ensuring her children have a vitamin-rich diet, adding that any sniffle, cough, or spike in temperature is cause for concern. She said she also checks for spots inside her children’s mouths to detect measles, and that she is prepared to isolate them if they get sick or are quarantined by their school.
“You have to be informed, you have to be an expert on your own child’s health,” she said. “Once you vaccinate your child, you can never un-vaccinate.”
Los Angeles resident Derek Bartholomaus, who runs a website called “the anti-vaccine body count,” keepings count of preventable illnesses (144,886), preventable deaths (6,312), and number of autism diagnoses scientifically linked to vaccinations (0) since June 3, 2007, admits it is hard to convince the anti-vaccination crowd.
“It’s really hard because it gets into the conspiracy theorist mentality,” he said. “If it were just a rational and logical discussion, there’s no debate. Vaccines are safe and effective.”
Dr. Jasjit Singh, associate director of pediatric infectious diseases at Children’s Hospital of Orange County, says she has seen her share of children die from a preventable infectious diseases.
“There is nothing more heartbreaking,” she said.