America is in the middle of a health crisis. For the first time since the 1990s, the rate of measles outbreaks has skyrocketed to an epidemic proportion.
While different cities are attempting different approaches in tackling this public health crisis, Seattle has decided to take definitive action.
In a move that many are praising and others are harshly criticizing, the city of Seattle is requiring all schoolchildren to get vaccinated before January eighth or be barred from returning to the classroom.
The majority of the Seattle community is praising this initiative and commending public officials for taking action against the measles epidemic. However, those who oppose vaccinations view this move as a violation of their rights as individuals and as parents.
The Reason For The Outbreak
During the 2000s and 2010s, the anti-vaccination movement began its disturbing rise in popularity. Spearheaded by actress Jenny McCarthy, proponents of the movement claim that vaccinations can cause autism and sudden death. McCarthy has specifically alleged that vaccinations were responsible for her own son's autism.
However, no credible medical professionals support the movement's claims. Doctors long warned that the rise of the anti-vaccination movement could lead to a public health crisis like the current measles epidemic. Unfortunately, this hasn't done much to sway the opinions of the members of the anti-vaccination movement, many of whom are extremely devout in their beliefs.
In Accordance With Washington State Law
Seattle's latest initiative didn't happen overnight. In July of 2019, the state government officially passed a law that forbids parents from failing to vaccinate their child against the measles, mumps and rubella, even if they cite religious or moral objections to vaccines. The passing of the law came after the governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, was forced to declare a state of emergency due to the measles outbreak.
Helping Parents Make Healthy Choices
While many parents fail to vaccinate their children due to their involvement in the anti-vaccination movement, others fail to follow the appropriate vaccine schedule due to a lack of financial resources or knowledge about how vaccines work. The city of Seattle is cognizant of this and is therefore offering free vaccine clinics to parents in the community.
At one of the free clinics, many parents admitted to local news affiliates that they never intended for their child to be unvaccinated. One mother confessed that she knew she needed to vaccinate her son, but couldn't find enough time between her work schedule and his school schedule to make the appointment. Like many parents, she expressed gratitude for the free walk-in clinic.
Fighting The Battle Against Misinformation
After the measles outbreak, it seems as if more parents are waking up to the fact that vaccines are a safe and necessary component of their child's health. However, some parents in Seattle remain steadfast in their anti-vaccination beliefs. Approximately 7,000 students in the Seattle public school system remain unvaccinated. Many parents continue to protest the new initiative at the state legislative building.
While Seattle's new vaccine laws may offer hope in combatting the measles crisis currently facing the Pacific Northwest, doctors and city officials might still have an uphill battle in convincing many parents that vaccines are not only safe and healthy, but a necessary part of a thriving community.