Some Missouri lawmakers are kowtowing to religious fundamentalists by supporting a bill that ignores proven science and stokes anti-vaccination fearmongering.
A panel of lawmakers heard testimony from parents claiming they were being “bullied” and discriminated against by daycares, doctors and county health departments because their children haven’t been immunized.
What these people and organizations are actually trying to discriminate against is ignorance.
A bill being pushed by Republicans would bar discriminating against children who aren’t vaccinated for religious reasons. A bill such as this one needs a shot of reality because the anti-vaxer movement is taking a toll on cities from coast to coast, and Missouri is not immune, as recent news reports have shown.
Communities in Oregon, Washington and New York have declared public health emergencies because of a rash of measles cases due to unvaccinated children. Ten cases have been reported in Missouri, with more expected to come.
Missouri already has an exemption for parents who refuse to vaccinate their children on religious grounds. This new legislative effort will accomplish little except to legitimize concerns of misinformed parents. Belief should never take priority over facts.
The measles virus was nearly eradicated in the U.S. and many other developed parts of the world. Prior to the creation of the measles vaccine in 1963, about 3,000 people contracted measles per every 1 million. By the year 2000 that number had dropped to 1 case per 1 million people, according to The Journal of Infectious Diseases.
A few years ago a new disease started spreading among parents: ignorance. Fortunately there’s a cure: scientific facts. Sadly the cure doesn’t come in the form of a shot. If it did we’d know of a few lawmakers in need of multiple doses.
Diseases like measles, polio and smallpox were nearly wiped out thanks to scientific breakthroughs. Measles is now making a comeback because too many parents would rather trust conspiracy theorists and anti-science hacks who validate fear and paranoia using misleading information.
It doesn’t matter if you can find a Google search talking about the connection between vaccinations and autism, for example. There is no conclusive proof, just speculation by misinformed people who have no qualms about leading others down a dangerous path.
You can also find “evidence” through online searches showing “proof” that the Earth is flat, the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax and Fred Trump was born in Germany. In short, you can find information on the internet to support anything, but that still doesn’t make it true.
Measles is infectious for up to four days before skin rashes appear. That’s four days that unvaccinated children may expose others who either can’t receive the vaccine for medical reasons or are too young to be vaccinated (children are typically vaccinated around 12 months old).
It’s nothing short of ludicrous for a parent to say they have a religious right to potentially expose and kill someone else’s child by infecting them with measles, mumps or any other easily-preventable disease. It’s even more ludicrous that lawmakers are indulging this way of thinking.
Let’s hope someone finds an immediate cure for these lawmakers and their misguided efforts. We said earlier one cure entails reading scientific facts. The only other cure we know of is called Election Day, but that’s more about vaccinating ourselves from the terminally ignorant.
An editorial from the Columbia (Missouri) Daily Tribune.