A measles outbreak at Disneyland has led to a much-needed conversation about diseases and the vaccines that effectively stop them from spreading to others.
The measles mini-epidemic is part of a trend from recent years. Too many parents don’t vaccinate their children. That flies in the face of almost all research, which shows that the benefits of vaccines for society far outweigh any health problems they might cause for a small number of individuals.
The parents’ poor decisions have consequences. Their unvaccinated children attend schools, which increases the possibility that other students may get exposed to and sick from diseases, including especially contagious measles.
The parents irresponsibly are putting not just their own children at risk but others as well. That is unacceptable.
Some top public officials don’t help matters much by giving comfort to the anti-vaccine crowd. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Monday said, “Parents need to have some measure of choice in things as well.” His office later updated this statement to explain that the governor “supports some, not all, vaccines being mandatory.”
Focusing on the fact people have the right to do stupid things does not mean they should be encouraged to do them.
Public institutions must act more vigorously to stop unvaccinated children from coming into contact with others. Unfortunately, too many parents can easily use religious and philosophical exemptions to get their children into school without vaccinations.
States ought to make it more difficult to use these loopholes at schools, forcing parents to make better decisions.