Editorial: vaccination requirements are a must to protect against disease

In a world where communicable diseases pose an ever-present threat, misinformation is our greatest enemy.

According to an article on the website of Forbes magazine, the United States is currently in the midst of the worst measles outbreak in 20 years. Finding correct information about measles can be a difficult task, especially with the anti-vaccine movement polluting every forum and article with groundless claims.

So where is the correct information?

Here are some measles facts courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Before the vaccine was developed in 1963, 3 to 4 million people in the U.S. were infected with measles each year. By 1998, only 100 cases of measles were reported in the U.S.

With the rise of the anti-vaccine movement since then, 644 cases were reported in 2014. In 2015, 170 cases were reported between Jan. 1 and Feb. 27 alone.

Notice a trend?

To make a long story short, the movement began when a British doctor named Andrew Wakefield published a study about the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine in The Lancet in 1998. He claimed his study found a causation between the MMR vaccine and autism, though it didn’t.

His claims have since been discredited, his study retracted from The Lancet and his license to practice medicine revoked.

Unfortunately, the fallout from the spread of his claims continues, and we are seeing the damage now. Our herd immunity is being compromised as people continue to make poor vaccination choices.

Though it will take time, there is a solution that will help restore the U.S.’s immunity rates to what they once were.

Several institutions, including the University of California system, are implementing more strict mandatory vaccination policies.

The UC’s plan, which will be phased in over three years, will require incoming students to be vaccinated for “measles, mumps and rubella; meningococcus; varicella (chicken pox); and tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough)” in addition to the current hepatitis B vaccination requirement, according to the UC website.

California Sens. Richard Pan and Ben Allen are also introducing legislation that would prevent parents from opting out of vaccinating their children due to personal beliefs.

If we are to prevent the unnecessary spread of easily preventable disease and suffering, adoption of these policies must become uniform, including here at Cosumnes River College.

There is no reason the U.S. should still be seeing outbreaks of measles and whooping cough, and there is no reason we should be forced to spend massive amounts of resources to treat such outbreaks.

Our greatest weapon against misinformation is proper knowledge. Take some biology classes, inform yourself, support this legislation and protect the herd.

The simple fact is that vaccination is our best defense against disease.

If you can not see that, your opinion is dangerous and you are wrong.