Anti-Vax Isn’t an American Issue, it’s an International Issue

By: Shelby Harper

Toronto public health has confirmed a case of measles in an unvaccinated infant, obtained after traveling abroad. This is the first case of measles in Toronto in 2019, out of the 16 reported cases in Canada. 

Measles in of itself had practically been eradicated two decades ago in America with the introduction of widespread vaccination. However, with the rise of the Anti-Vax movement, measles has been returning at a terrifying rate. Children under the age of 10 are the most at risk, with outbreaks happening all over North America, but particularly in places with harbouring anti-vax ideology. 

The Anti-Vax movement consists of people who believe they should not vaccinate their kids, believing vaccines can harm children’s immune systems and that it can harm their overall health. The concern stems from both the high amount of vaccinations recommended for a child in the first few years of their life, as well as a fraudulent case study attempting to link vaccinations and autism together. The result of this movement is terrifying, and studies of measles outbreaks in North America and around the world are as clear as can be: the less vaccinations given, the high the chance of contracting diseases. 

Measles isn’t something to ignore and not worry about. It’s a deadly and painful disease entirely preventable by vaccinations. In Madagascar, they are currently facing a horrendous epidemic of measles, with over 900 deaths and 68,000 cases of measles reported across the country. The country is now desperately trying to get the outbreak under control, with massive campaigns for widespread vaccination across the country, who previously had a very low vaccination rate. 

Now, you might be thinking, so what? I have my vaccinations, and this sounds like a predominantly out of country issue. 

While that might in of itself be true, anti vax movements are not just terrifying for American health, but for international health as well, especially when travelling. 

When a person who is not vaccinated against diseases common in their homeland travel, they run risk of not only catching illnesses in foreign lands, but also transmitting diseases and reintroducing them into a country full of people unable to fight off the disease. 

For example, a French boy unvaccinated against measles was accused of reintroducing the disease to Costa Rica, after travelling with his family on holidays. The devastating disease, which had been eradicated from the country since 2014, resulted in the boy being placed under quarantine, and the country searching for anyone who may have come into contact with the disease. 

It isn’t enough anymore to just say you have your vaccinations. We as a society need to promote a zero-tolerance culture for anti-vax movements. Studies have shown time and time again that the only way to eradicate disease is through vaccination.

The more we tolerate anti vax ideology, the more people are going to die of a totally preventable disease.