While Disney Land is known as the “happiest place on Earth,” recently, more than 70 people have fallen ill with measles after visiting the theme park. With patients ranging in age from 7 months to 70 years, the outbreak has spread beyond California with cases confirmed in Utah, Washington, Colorado, and Oregon. The speed at which the illness has spread is being blamed on parents who choose not to vaccinate their children.
Although measles was believed to have been eliminated in the United States in 2000, of the 34 patients whose vaccination status is known, 28 were not vaccinated at all. Thus, because measles is a highly infectious disease that begins with symptoms resembling a common cold, those who harbor the virus may not know they are carriers until others around them are also infected. The consequences of the illness are serious, including pneumonia, encephalitis and, in some cases, it can be fatal.
Reasons Parents Choose Not to Vaccinate
The California measles outbreak may lead observers to question parents’ rationales for choosing not to vaccinate their children against known, deadly illnesses. Indeed, modern medicine has prevented millions of premature deaths among children and states have enacted compulsory childhood vaccination laws to stop the spread of preventable diseases. Florida schools require that parents provide proof of vaccinations against diseases like diphtheria, polio, measles, and chickenpox before being able to enroll their children in K-12 education. Limited exemptions may be sought for medical and religious reasons.
Yet, anti-vaccination sentiment appears to be growing in the United States, with many parents believing that there is a link between immunizations and autism. However, numerous medical studies, including a comprehensive report from the Institute of Medicine, have concluded that there is no causal relationship between vaccines and autism. Others worry about side effects of vaccines and believe that the effects of the preservatives used during the manufacturing process are worse than the illnesses they seek to prevent. These opinions are reflected in a 2014 survey which found that only 51 percent of Americans believed that vaccines are both safe and effective.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), however, has confirmed that vaccines are held to the highest standards of safety and are continually monitored for safety, side-effects, and effectiveness. Before they are approved for public use, the FDA subjects vaccines to rigorous testing which may take 10 years or longer. Any indications of illness caused by vaccinations are investigated by the CDC and FDA. Indeed, the only categories of people that the CDC advises should not be vaccinated are children with compromised immune systems, such as cancer patients or those who have suffered a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine. In the rare circumstances when a person suffers from a severe reaction after being administered a vaccine, those cases are documented in the national Vaccine Adverse Event reporting System (VAERS).
If you believe that your child has sustained an injury as a result of being administered a faulty vaccine, call The Pittman Firm today to allow us to evaluate your case and to help you obtain compensation.