One of the important reasons to be vaccinated is for our own health, but an equally important one is for the health of others. That's especially true for the vulnerable people who can't be vaccinated against measles -- both young babies and people with compromised immune systems.
The argument seems remote to many people. They understand how it works, but it sounds like theory rather than reality.
Perhaps vaccine-hesitant people will feel differently if they read the stories of people like Deb Horning, the survivor of a rare form of leukemia. As explained by NBC News:
Horning was diagnosed with the blood cancer in October 2014, and was told the type she had has a 25 percent chance of survival. Following intensive chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant, her leukemia is now in remission. But the treatment wiped out her immune system, leaving her "like a newborn," she said.
As a result, Horning, 47, has no natural protection against contagious illnesses, and is susceptible to getting a more severe case of whatever she catches. Measles, a systemic infection, could kill her.
"I think hand washing is huge, but it’s not going to save me from the measles, and yes, I am freaked out by this," Horning said. "All the things that I had to deal with — I’ve survived all this stuff — just to get whacked by the measles? I didn’t go through all this for that."
Horning knows her son could pick up something contaminated at school and bring it home, so even hiding out at home isn't enough protection.
What a shame that a woman who has been through so much now sees her life threatened by a vaccine-preventable disease.
As measles outbreaks continue, we can unfortunately expect to see more of these stories of innocent people exposed to potentially deadly situations because of myths that have been circulated about the measles vaccine.
Go here to read Horning's full story.