Measles: A Disneyland Souvenir No One Wants

I’m supposed to be going to Disneyland with a group of coworkers next week. I feel like we should confirm that everyone has been vaccinated against measles before we go…just in case.

Disneyland March 2009 FPV/3rsblog
I’m pretty sure I got a measles shot as a small child, but thanks to a cross-country move and lost immunization records, I know I got one during my senior year of college. Due to an outbreak of the disease within the Florida state-university system–and I have no idea how many cases comprised that “outbreak;” it could have been, and probably was, a very tiny number–any student who couldn’t provide proof of vaccination was required to get the shot in order to register for classes. So I’m not worried for myself. I’d just rather not worry about anyone else.

At MomsLA, Yvonne Condes makes an appeal for vaccinations in response to the reappearance of measles in Southern California:

There have been 42 confirmed measles cases that are linked back to one source: a fun day at Disneyland. An unvaccinated tourist exposed people – kids, adults, park employees – to the highly contagious disease. Two of the cases were babies too young to get the vaccine. 

…Measles isn’t like your average case of the flu. It’s a horrible disease that can lead to deafness, brain damage, and death. And…(it) is ridiculously easy to get if you’re not vaccinated. It can exist in a space hours after the infected person has left. You can get it and expose others long before you know you have it. 

What’s so frustrating about this is that it’s a disease that had been eradicated from the United States. In 2000, there were no known cases. It was wiped out. It was a vaccination success story.

Jessica Gottlieb (also a Los Angeles Mom) reports that the number of measles cases in California is up to 70, and argues in the interests of science and community.

I was going to make a list of resources demonstrating that vaccines work but then I remembered that anyone who took this [anti-vaccination] stuff seriously wouldn’t read them anyhow…It is impossible to have any level of scientific literacy and to state that there is no good research to show vaccines are safe. 

At a certain point we have to hold people accountable. The hubris of parents not vaccinating their children is astounding. I have never once had a parent tell me they opted against vaccinating their children who had a modicum of scientific literacy.

…I used to think parents who didn’t vaccinate their children were silly. Then I thought they just weren’t very smart. I knew they weren’t good members of the community but it’s time to stop tiptoeing around them. These parents are making a decision that turns their family into a public health menace

The science and public-health issues surrounding the vaccination controversy are among the subjects Eula Biss discusses so eloquently in On Immunity: An Inoculation. The comeback of a once-rare illness, an occurrence directly attributable to the deliberate choice to skip vaccination, has me wanting, more than ever, to put this book into everyone’s hands.

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