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State Has Option To Stop Next Measles Outbreak, Lock Unvaxxed Kids Out Of School

Medical science is truly awe-inspiring. In the past century alone, vaccines have completely eradicated smallpox and significantly reduced rates of diseases ranging from polio to measles. These infectious diseases, once enough to disable or even kill a person, can be neutralized through vaccines.

This makes it extra frustrating when people refuse to vaccinate, allowing these diseases to come back.

Infectious diseases used to be widespread.

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Before the advent of modern medicine, debilitating and fatal diseases like polio, diptheria and measles were widespread. Their contagious nature, and a lack of scientific understanding, caused untold numbers of people to die.

Need proof?

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While most people in the developed world can expect to live for 70-80 years, it wasn't always this way. Back in the seventeenth century, what we now consider to be middle age was in fact the average lifespan.

We have medical science to thank.

Vaccines can't take all the credit — advances in the field of infant mortality have been game-changers — but vaccines have made a significant impact by drastically lowering the risk of developing certain diseases.

People aren't forced to vaccinate themselves or their kids.

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Here is where the problem begins. Because the anti-vaxxing movement has gained traction in recent years, a growing number of people are going without vaccinations. In Clark County, Washington, nearly a quarter of kindergarten-aged kids were unvaccinated.

We need herd immunity.

Vaccines work well, but only if everyone is vaccinated. This is what's called "herd immunity." If everyone's vaccinated, nobody gets sick. But if more than a couple percent aren't vaccinated, it puts everybody at risk.

This has led to a public health state of emergency.

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Owing to the low levels of vaccination in Clark County, Washington governor Jay Inslee has declared a public health state of emergency. This allows health officials to take big steps to eliminate the problem.

How do you keep unvaccinated kids out of school?

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This might sound overly simplistic, but a locked door can work wonders. Officials can't force kids to get vaccinated, but they can keep them out of classrooms so they can't infect kids who have been vaccinated. Often, the financial pressure families of unvaccinated children are put under in these situations can result in them getting those vaccinations. In fact, this option has been practiced before in the state.

The state of emergency should get vaccination rates up.

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In short, it allows the state to tell people to get themselves and their kids vaccinated or their kids won't be allowed to go to school. It sounds tough, but it's a public health necessity.

Want to go back to school?

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It's as simple as getting vaccinated. Considering that 35 of 36 confirmed cases of measles in Washington State occurred in Clark County, it's clearly a situation that needs to be remedied.

We get it: no one likes getting their shots.

It's totally reasonable to be afraid of needles, and it's true that common shots — like the flu shot — can vary in effectiveness from year to year. That said, vaccines help keep nasty diseases like measles at bay.

No, vaccines don't cause autism.

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Anti-vaxxers often point to Andrew Wakefield's 1998 paper suggesting that vaccines caused autism. It needs to be emphasized that this paper has been thoroughly discredited and debunked, to the point that Wakefield can no longer call himself a doctor.

Trust health professionals, not celebrities.

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In the wake of the fraudulent autism research, celebrities like Jenny McCarthy used their platforms to promote the mistaken connection between vaccines and autism. Unfortunately, this gave these ideas some traction.

It's literally a public health emergency, so get vaccinated.

It's always important to do your research. There is no credible evidence that vaccines cause anything other than the eventual eradication of disease. If you like living a long life, free of measles and polio and other nastiness, get vaccinated.