Few issues can divide parents and cause fury as quickly as the debate over whether children should be vaccinated for diseases like measles, rubella, and pertussis, or whooping cough. Those opposed to vaccinations often believe the ingredients used to create them can cause autism and that a child's immune system is strengthened when he or she is forced to fight off diseases rather than be protected against them.
On the opposite side of the fence, parents who choose to vaccinate their children may not always feel 100 percent comfortable with the risks that can be involved with these shots but have decided that the benefits of warding off dangerous diseases far outweigh the hazards.
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Regardless of how you feel about vaccinations, it's difficult to dismiss cold hard facts. A new map released by the Council on Foreign Relations clearly shows the effect the anti-vaccination movement is having on children and adults in the U.S. And it ain't pretty.
According to the data, which looks at "vaccine-preventable outbreaks" between 2008 and 2014, known cases of measles, mumps, and whooping cough have exploded in the United States and Europe. The anti-vaccination movement is being blamed for the increase in avoidable diseases. Here's the map:
The green circles represent cases of whooping cough -- and it's clear to see almost all of the cases have occurred in the U.S. The red dots represent measles, brown is mumps, and blue is rubella.
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Plain and simple, this is not okay. Parents who choose not to vaccinate their children are putting those who haven't been vaccinated yet, like babies, at risk. They are also potentially affecting people whose immunizations haven't worked. This is a public health issue and your choice to not vaccinate your child affects those around you.
I also find it heartbreaking that anyone with children in this country would let them needlessly suffer when parents in many parts of Africa would kill to have access to vaccinations.
What do you think of this map? Did you vaccinate your children?
Map image via cfr.org