Measles outbreak sparks further debate about vaccination policies

California has become the national epicenter of measles outbreaks in the United States with over 120 reported cases  since December 2014, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

It is not a coincidence that both anti-vaccination groups and measles cases are on the rise. With more and more parents opting out on getting their children vaccinated, the risk of contracting these preventable diseases is quickly increasing.

“Everybody should be vaccinated, starting with the basic flu vaccine,” said Cosumnes River College nurse, Fran Koscheski. “Measles is now on the upswing. There’s just so many diseases out there that have vaccinations that can protect you that it would be really foolish to not be vaccinated.”

It is not required of community college students to be vaccinated unless they are involved in the Allied Health program. This includes areas of study that involve direct patient contact, such as nursing, emergency medical technician, respiratory care and funeral services.

Koscheski said that these students must be vaccinated for their own protection and the protection of others.

“They’re at higher risk for these diseases because they’re dealing with patients they don’t know, especially the EMT students,” Koscheski said. “They’re out in the field, they’re the first line of contact with these patients.”

Although CRC does not require students to show proof of vaccinations, it is not a reason to keep students from taking the necessary precautions to stay healthy.

Koscheski said that most CRC students already have the Hepatitis B vaccine if they attended high school in California.

All teachers and children attending the CRC child development center are also required to have certain vaccinations such as the tuberculosis test, measles, mumps, rubella and varicella or chickenpox vaccine.

Jennifer Patrick, child development center supervisor, said that diseases such as measles and rubella are not common anymore because our society has been vaccinating children for so long, but they still need to be prevented.

“I feel it is very important for children to be vaccinated because we have seen such a decline in childhood illnesses,” Patrick said.

Diseases that haven’t been a prevalent problem in the US are now making a rise because of purely pseudo scientific claims that these vaccines cause neurological damage in children.

While some people truly believe that vaccinations can be harmful to their children, there is no scientific evidence to back it up.

There was a study in 1998 authored by Andrew Wakefield, a former surgeon and medical researcher, and his colleagues that linked the MMR vaccine to a cause of autism.

Since then, the study has been retracted due to plagiarism, false claims and the unethical treatment of children, according to an article from British Medical Journal.

Wakefield was given a chance to either replicate his findings or admit to his mistake and has done neither. Stripped of his clinical and academic credentials, Wakefield continues to push his anti-vaccination views.

Even though these claims have been proven false, parents continue to opt out of vaccinations for their children.

“I think they are doing it in good faith,” Koscheski said. “They feel that they are putting their children at risk for autism or other diseases. But the risk of contracting the actual disease is so much greater than any perceived risk of autism.”

However, it is understandable that some people might be skeptical of vaccines because of all of the chemicals that are in them.

“It’s kind of like, what are they putting in you, so I think a lot of people are hesitant on getting vaccinated,” said extended opportunity services assistant Aujonique Dismukes.

But a little research can help calm the mind about vaccination misconceptions.

Patrick has been in the child development center for over 16 years and said that the outbreaks of preventable diseases have considerably decreased.

“I have not seen a chickenpox breakout in the center in many years,” Patrick said.

Vaccinations can help prevent an array of diseases, but they are not a shield to hide behind. Koscheski said if you live an unhealthy lifestyle, you are more prone to catching something like measles or tuberculosis.

“You have a natural immunity to these diseases too if you have plenty of rest, good nutrition and cut out the bad habits,” Koscheski said.

Overall, most people said that they think vaccinations are important to sure future generations are healthy.

“It’s one thing for just your kid, but you’re endangering thousands of other kids in the area around you by not having your child vaccinated to something that is easily preventable,” said Alicia Evans, a 23-year-old geographic information systems major.