Measles Spreading in Massachusetts

By Megan McArdle

There's a measles outbreak in Massachusetts, probably thanks to low vaccination rates.


It's hard to believe, but we're sliding backwards on two of the three public health achievements of the 20th century: vaccination, antibiotics, and clean water.  Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem, one that we're partly inflicting on ourselves by rampant overuse.  And now vaccine resistance is spreading among parents who want to free ride on the herd immunity of others.  If these diseases were widespread, they'd be rushing to vaccinate their kids.  But they can delay, or forgo the vaccines entirely, thanks to other parents who are willing to risk their kids in order to do the right thing.  They're already killing little babies who catch pertussis before they can be vaccinated, and now measles has killed six people in France just since the start of the year.

I am against the death penalty.  I wouldn't even favor it for Andrew Wakefield.  But I would like to make him spend the rest of his life explaining himself to the parents of children who have died from diseases that could have been prevented through timely vaccination.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2011/05/measles-spreading-in-massachusetts/239577/