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Editorial: Simple solution

["Nova Scotians are again being urged to get a flu vaccine. It's free and available from doctors offices, nurse practitioners, most pharmacists and from Public Health offices (for high-risk candidates)"]

This is an editorial that shouldn’t have to be written.

For years, the world has had an effective vaccine for measles.

Yet, after a scare from a since-proven-false article by the now-discredited Andrew Wakefield that claimed there was a danger from the vaccine, a significant number of parents decided that they knew better than mainstream doctors or science, and chose not to have their children vaccinated with the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.

Because of their parents' choice, children are dying of measles again. And they don’t have to.

Those chickens are coming home to roost. Because of their choice, people – often children – are dying of measles again. And they don’t have to.

In the last year, Europe has seen 3,300 cases of measles, and 35 deaths in Germany, Romania, Portugal and Italy.

The United States declared in 2000 that it had eliminated measles nation-wide. Not anymore; there were 70 confirmed measles cases in 2016 (primarily among the unvaccinated). Compare that to June 2017, when there were 73 cases in one outbreak in Minnesota alone.

A Minnesota disease prevention official told CNN at the time, “This is a disease that is serious, and the opportunity to prevent it is one that we really need to be taking. ... We’d rather invest in preventing disease than spend funds fighting it. We want to focus on promoting health in those instances where we can rather than fighting disease.”

For all of the U.S, the number of confirmed cases for 2017 stood at 120 as of Nov. 4.

And many of the cases didn’t have to happen.

As the U.S. Center for Disease Control points out, “Measles vaccine is highly effective, with one dose being 93 per cent effective and two doses being 97 per cent effective at preventing measles.”

Recent research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association points out that, of the 1,789 cases in the U.S. between 2001 and 2015, close to 70 per cent were in people who had not received the MMR vaccinations.

Perhaps the simplest way to put it? Read the words of Dr. Eleanor Draeger, speaking to the British Medical Association’s annual meeting in June.

“I qualified in 2000 and when I was at medical school I was taught about measles as a historical disease that I would probably never see,” she said. “In 2007, I saw my first case of measles in a 10-month-old baby who was really, really unwell — wasn’t hospitalized but spent 10 days dehydrated and seeing the GP every day with constant fear for their health. That 10-month-old baby was my son.

“He has had every vaccination but at 10 months he was too young for his first MMR. The reason he had measles is because of the fallout from Wakefield’s paper,” she said. “Something which should have been historical in my career isn't historical anymore.”

Strong words. Easy solution. Get your children vaccinated.

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