The Disneyland measles outbreak is finally over. It was declared dead just a few weeks ago by health officials after enough time had passed with no new reported cases of the disease. All told, 147 people in the U.S. were infected and sickened by the outbreak, which began at Disneyland in December of last year, with 131 of those cases occurring in California. According to the CDC, 169 people in 20 states and Washington DC were diagnosed with measles between the first of the year and the first of May, with those numbers continuing the trend started in 2014, which saw a record number of measles cases in this country: 668. That was the highest case count since 2000, when measles was officially declared eradicated. Maybe it doesn’t need to be restated but let’s do it anyway: Measles, a highly virulent, potentially deadly disease, had been wiped out — until it came roaring back to life, thanks almost entirely to the irresponsible, paranoid and utterly science-free movement spawned by parents who refuse to properly vaccinate their kids.
That one major outbreak may be over and the attention it received by the media may have receded, but make no mistake: stupidity is incurable, which means that you can be 100% assured another outbreak just like it will happen again. Maybe it’ll be measles, maybe it’ll be whooping cough, or maybe it’ll be an even more dangerous disease that human medical advances eradicated and that human idiocy will bring back from the dead. We do a lot of “Never Forget”-ing in our culture, but the California outbreak, those who suffered from it and everyone else who’s come down with the measles over the past five months should stay locked in our minds for a good long time. Thankfully, the threat posed by a measles outbreak and by the ignorant, arrogant people who started it isn’t being forgotten by our lawmakers. There are moves being made in both California and the federal government to make childhood vaccines mandatory — and California’s just took a big step forward.
Thursday the California State Senate approved SB 277 by a vote of 25 to 10. The bill would eliminate personal belief and religious exemptions that allow parents to go around vaccination requirements and still get their children into schools. SB 277 now goes to the state assembly and if it ultimately passes the only exemption still allowed would be for medical reasons. The whole thing was introduced during the height of the Disneyland outbreak, but obviously lawmakers haven’t forgotten a) how frightening that was, and b) that all those parents who helped to cause the spread of measles from Orange County outward are still there and almost certainly didn’t learn a damn thing because their ignorance is just that bulletproof. The goal of SB 277 is to increase vaccination rates to the point where herd immunity is no longer compromised and even those children who can’t be vaccinated for legitimate reasons don’t have to fear coming down with dangerous diseases we thought we’d beaten back.
Meanwhile, Democratic U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson of Florida has presenteda bill that would make up-to-date vaccinations mandatory on a federal level for any child attending a public school. Very few exceptions would be permitted. Granted, Wilson is a member of the minority party so she’s facing an uphill battle with this, but it goes to show that in the eyes of many lawmakers, the anti-vaccine movement has been indulged long enough. And that’s really the point here: Parents were trusted to make the right decision, the one that benefits not simply their children but everyone’s children and they failed miserably because, instead, they shut their brains off and gave themselves over to quack doctors, celebrity pseudoscience, and the “facts” learned at the University of Google. Their hubris was and continues to be dangerous, hence why the government has finally been forced to step in and do the job of being a good parent and a decent citizen for them — which is a fucking shame.
Let’s go through this one more time: No, your decision not to vaccinate your child and to potentially turn that kid into a little walking Petri dish isn’t your right as a parent, not when that little walking Petri dish will almost surely end up interacting with other people’s kids. Some of those kids will be fully inoculated because they’ll have parents smart enough to follow the CDC’s vaccination schedule and not listen instead to the nonsense spewed by those two doctors,a bona fide sociopath,a self-righteous former Playboy playmate, or a thoroughly debunked medical journal report in making hugely important decisions about the well-being of their children. Other kids, meanwhile, won’t be able to be vaccinated because they’ll have genuine reasons for not being able to be, such as being too young or suffering from diseases like cancer. Those children in particular will rely entirely on the protection provided by their peers. It won’t be their fault they’re highly susceptible to infection, but it will absolutely be your fault if your unvaccinated kid gets them sick.
Because, again, your decision not to vaccinate impacts more than just your child. It is not simply a personal decision. It is not simply a personal decision. It is not simply a fucking personal decision. Vaccinating your child as scheduled by the CDC is a requirement as a responsible member of society who owes something to those around him or her. And since you were trusted to meet that requirement and not instead behave as if the entire world revolves around you, and you failed miserably, you lose the privilege. You might soon have the ability to decide taken away from you. And the rest of us will be better off for it.
Chez Pazienza was the beating heart of The Daily Banter, sadly passing away on February 25, 2017. His voice remains ever present at the Banter, and his influence as powerful as ever.