Measles case in Edmonton another reminder of the importance of vaccines

The question has again been raised as another confirmed case of the measles in Edmonton has popped up: are we really still doing this? It’s 2019, and somehow we still manage to have measles outbreaks almost every year.

Though the illness was reportedly contracted from another country and brought back, it doesn’t change the fact that the measles vaccine is 97 per cent effective; the most likely cause of patient zero catching it at all was being unvaccinated. Alberta Health Services was unable to release much information about the carrier, but they did release a list of several public locations that may have been exposed. Closest to home, the affected party was in the University of Alberta hospital emergency department between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on May 17.

This case is one of three in Alberta so far this year, the first in Edmonton. Measles is an extremely contagious, potentially deadly virus which should be eradicated in North America. However, with the rise of the anti-vaccination movement, it continues to pop up left and right. Earlier this year, health officials even warned that Canada could soon see similar outbreak increases to the United States.

For the most part, we all know how important vaccinations are. We know that polio used to kill and maim hundreds of thousands of people every year, and we know that the cost of stopping that was vaccination. We do know these things, for the most part.

I’m not trying to come for the anti-vaccination crowd… but I am. I’m coming for the anti-vaccination crowd because they disregard children under one who cannot receive the measles vaccination, because there are all ages of immuno-compromised folk who cannot receive immunizations at all. I’m coming for them because my little sister had to take an emergency ambulance ride to the Stollery Children’s Hospital because someone without a vaccine transmitted a preventable illness to her.

The anti-vaccination movement is not only ignorant and wildly irresponsible, but dangerous. Every case of measles in Canada, including the recent case here in Edmonton, puts the most vulnerable members of our society at risk. It’s shortsighted and selfish to believe that vaccines don’t save hundreds of thousands of lives every day.

The measles case in Edmonton is just the tip of the iceberg, and each case like it we allow to pass without consequence is measured in human lives. Vaccines should be mandatory, as should education on how and why they work. This case very well could’ve killed someone, and one person’s pseudo-scientific beliefs are not worth more than that life.

Payton Ferguson

Payton Ferguson is a second-year English major by day, 2019-20 Opinion Editor for The Gateway by night (and also day). She enjoys long walks to the fridge, writing until her wrists ache, and bombarding social media with pictures of her chihuahuas.

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