Deliberate disinformation aids ignorant measles outbreaks

❝ A large measles outbreak in Washington state shows no sign of abating.

According to the State Department of Health, there are now at least 54 cases of the illness, all but one of which were located in Clark County, Washington, just across the river from Portland, Oregon. Directly to the south, the Oregon Health Authority has reported at least four cases. Within Clark County, the vast majority of diagnoses are of children 10 years old or younger.

❝ Measles — an airborne virus that can lead to lung infections, brain damage, and death in the worst cases — was responsible for thousands of deaths in the U.S. each year prior to the discovery of a vaccine in 1963. Measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, but in the last year, there has been a worldwide resurgence of the virus, with cases increasing 30 percent, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). One of the main drivers of this trend is a growing reluctance to vaccinate children, so much so that the WHO listed the anti-vaccination movement as one of its top ten threats to global health in 2019…

❝ According to a 2018 study by the American Journal of Public Health, combating the problem has been made even more difficult by Russian trolls spreading disinformation on the subject. As ThinkProgress has previously documented, Kremlin-backed disinformation agents have specifically focused on wedge issues designed to divide Americans — like Black Lives Matter and immigration issues. Anti-vaccination, it seems, has also fallen into that category.

Ignorance ain’t bliss, folks. It can kill your children and the kids around them. RTFA!

I grew up in the age when the only vaccine available for regular childhood vaccination was for diphtheria. It was common practice every spring among my playmates to gather in the schoolyard first nice day we were allowed outdoors at recess and see who didn’t make it through the winter. We lost one or two kids every winter. Even though measles could and would land in our factory town any time in the year, winter was always the most worrisome. Flu was a big killer. And, yes, we worried as much about polio in the summer. Still the number one killer in our neighborhood was measles.