Still think that telling people to avoid vaccination doesn’t have consequences?
Here are the latest consequences of people not getting the measles vaccine. On Friday, Jay Inslee, Governor of the state of Washington declared a State of Emergency throughout the state due to the ongoing measles outbreak that has now affected at least 26 people. This is the outbreak that I wrote about for Forbes six days ago. Clearly things have gotten worse since then.
This means that the Washington State Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan will be implemented. This means that the Washington State Military Department, State Emergency Operations Center, the Department of Health, and local officials will have to coordinate their resources and efforts. This means that taxpayer dollars and other resources that could have gone to other things now need to be allocated to deal with this emergency.
This also meant that the Governor’s office had to use quite a few whereas‘s when issuing the emergency declaration such as “WHEREAS, The measles virus is a highly contagious infectious disease that can be fatal in small children, and the existence of 26 confirmed cases in the state of Washington creates an extreme public health risk that may quickly spread to other counties” and “WHEREAS, The measles vaccine is effective at preventing the disease when given prior to exposure, and proactive steps to provide the vaccination and other measures must be taken quickly to prevent further spread of the disease” and “WHEREAS, The measles outbreak and its effects impact the life and health of our people, as well as the economy of Washington State, and is a public disaster that affects life, health, property or the public peace.”
In legalese, the term “whereas” means “considering that” or “that being the case.” So, whereas, measles is a disease that was practically non-existent in the U.S. back in 2000. Whereas, anti-vaccination messages have been increasing on the Internet and social media since 2000. Whereas, measles vaccination rates have dropped since 2000. Whereas, dealing with measles is a lot more costly than simply getting people vaccinated. Whereas, what the bleep.
This KGW News report gives an update on the measles outbreak:
Yes, it is not good to get the measles. It is certainly not pleasant to have. It can progress to more serious problems such as inflammation of the brain and even death. It can cost you money from lost school or work time and the costs of medications, doctor visits, and hospitalization.
What’s often overlooked, though, is the cost of measles outbreaks to everyone else including those who got vaccinated and didn’t get the disease. Declaring an emergency is no trivial matter. Otherwise, Governors around the country would declare emergencies a whole lot more often.
If you are wondering who is paying for a public health emergency, take out your smartphone. Makes sure that it has enough charge. Take a selfie of yourself, because that’s what selfies are: pictures of yourself. Post the selfie on social media. Then log on to the social media site. Find the picture of yourself. Then, look at the picture. The person in the picture is one of the people paying for the emergency.
This is because you probably pay taxes, which then are used to support what occurs during the emergency. Plus, regardless of how independent you think you are, you depend on the government for lots of things, ranging from the roads that you drive on to the water that you drink to the many protections from disease, pollution, corruption, criminal acts, and financial threats that you take for granted each day. No business, no matter how big or powerful, can function without help from the government. Every diversion of resources from all of these services will end up costing you.
This is especially true for services provided by health departments. State and local health departments can be like pairs of underwear that are seven sizes too small. They can be very stretched and as a result cause a lot of distress when they are not able to cover services that they are supposed to cover.
In complex systems, which is what health care, public health, governments, businesses, and society are, it can be difficult to see the consequences of your and others’ actions. Even if you don’t get the measles, even if you got vaccinated, even if you believe in science and vaccination, the anti-vaccination movement is affecting you. That’s why the WHO declared “vaccine hesitancy” as one of its 10 global health threats for 2019. That’s why if you see unscientific information being spread about vaccines, you may want to take some action.