We know now that the current measles “outbreak” started at an amusement park in California-Disneyland and that this outbreak accounts for 92% of the known cases as of January 30, 2015. What we should do as a country is take this unfortunate event and raise public awareness about the importance of preventative vaccinations. With falsified data from Dr. Andrew Wakefield , a London physician, and a subsequent publication that linked MMR vaccination to autism in a 1998 Lancet journal article we have seen a wave of anti-vaccine activists and skeptics who do not vaccinate their children. We need to take this opportunity to ramp up public education efforts on successful vaccination programs on all fronts and clearly show how they have overwhelmingly benefited society at large. In addition, many case reports and disease specific rates for decades at historically low levels now have begun to rise for whooping cough and chickenpox just to name other highly preventable diseases through vaccination. Folks, these are real life examples of natural disease occurrences that are on the rise in our country and with potentially terrible consequences. As physicians and healthcare providers, we need to educate our patients based upon our incredible knowledge base filled with scientific data to help improve our communities’ pediatric vaccination rates. In addition, we need to also listen to our parents and our patients to allay any unrealistic fears or to dispel any myths about vaccines. We have to continue to tell our story, using facts from scientific discovery and study, that the benefit to risk ratio for vaccination is more compelling than ever. Further, making false claims or promoting activism against vaccinations against all the evidence makes one complicit in contributing to the increase of disease burden within our communities that can and will lead to unnecessary and unfortunate death.
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