Commentary: Anti-Vaxxers Bring Back Measles

Ella Estopare, Online Editor & Columnist

On Feb. 18, the ministry of health in Costa Rica reported its first case of measles in over five years. A five year old French boy and his family were vacationing to Costa Rica when his mother noticed her son had broken out in a rash and took him to the hospital. He was later diagnosed with measles and then quarantined inside the hospital.

In the last couple decades, measles has been mostly eradicated in the United States. However, the Center for Disease Control has reported that the number of infants being brought in the the measles vaccination is declining quickly. This decline doesn’t only apply to the measles vaccination, but many other vaccinations like it, such as tetanus, the common cold and whooping cough. Vaccinations for these illnesses exist to protect people because these diseases spread quickly and can be fatal. The people who do not vaccinate their children lack the understanding of the true risks that they not only put on their children, but also  on other children and people in the community.

The rise in anti-vaxxers in America has been responsible for the decline in children being vaccinated. Many of these anti-vaccination parents justify their decision to not vaccinate their children by claiming that their children do not need to be vaccinated because other children will be. However, this statement is incorrect, according to the “herd immunity” concept. “Herd immunity” is a form of immunity that a population when a large proportion of “herd” is vaccinated; the more people who are protected by vaccinations, the less likely it is for a disease to spread. With the rise in anti-vaxxers, the population of vaccinated people in the “herd” is decreasing, and therefore the possibility that preventable diseases will spread has skyrocketed.

Anti-vaxxer parents also fail to account for the other people that they are potentially endangering by not having their children vaccinated: infants too young to be vaccinated and people who have weakened immune systems. Children brought to hospitals with deadly illnesses, such as measles, can expose dozens of newborns or very young children to the disease, and can endanger their lives because they are unprotected. While also in hospitals, these unvaccinated children can expose those who have compromised immune systems. With over 180 immune deficiency disorders known to exist, including cancer, anti-vaxxer parents place the lives of the very young and very sick in danger by failing to protect their own children from fatal illnesses.

According to, the United States’ health departments spent in between $2.7 and $5.3 million in containing a measles outbreak in 2011. The cost is not only enormous monetary wise, but the price of lives is much too costly. For the sake of your child and any person your childcomes into contact with, please vaccinate your children.