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The fear of measles: why Aquinas has been warned

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Story by Abigail Safago, Reporter
Image courtesy Abigail Safago

Between 1978 and 2013, cases of measles affecting people within our country’s borders was brought to a minimum. However, a spike in 2014 (which quickly fell) and an upward trend beginning in 2018 of measles in the United States has many scared.

One email sent to the Aquinas College community by President Kevin Quinn on April 18th reminded us to be more aware.

“As of April 17, 2019, there have been 43 confirmed cases of measles in the state of Michigan,” he begins.

The county most affected by this outbreak thus far is Oakland county. Officials have warned that exposure to Kent, Oakland, Ingham and Washtenaw counties may have happened recently between April 10-13.

President Quinn reminds us that while we are safe for now in Kent county with no confirmed cases, we should be wary and make sure we keep up on our vaccinations.

In his email, he advises those who study at, work for, or teach at Aquinas to check immunization records, watch for symptoms, and, if you have symptoms to contact a medical professional as soon as you are able.

This also causes a concern for students about what could happen on campus if someone was infected.

Freshman Adam Bailey wondered what the outcome could be, and said that “if anyone did get sick like that at Aquinas,” he hopes “the school would shut down so they can really clean the entire campus so no one else can get sick.”

It is important to be vaccinated not only to prevent yourself from getting sick, but also to protect others in our community who may not be able to receive vaccinations.

The reason that measles is on the rise again is not because of a lack of vaccines available: it is because a rise of people in “anti-vaxx” groups opposed to vaccination. Members of these groups are mostly parents who are against the “toxins” that they believe are in vaccines. They forget that the science behind preventing outbreaks of deadly illnesses to all generations is vaccines, by prioritizing their opinion of immunizations over safety of others outside of their family or home.

“The fact that the measles is coming back is ridiculous,” student Kelsey Hall says. “The fact they had to email us to say that we could get sick is really upsetting.”

The group that is most likely to be hurt by this outbreak, based on global statistics, is children under the age of 5. According to the World Health Organization, which tracks and surveys diseases globally, over 110,000 people died from the measles in 2017. A majority of those deaths were in babies and young children.

Most infants are vaccinated once before their first birthday. It is recommended they are vaccinated again at a young age in order to build a stronger immunity to measles, as around 15% fail to from the first dose.

Many that are a part of the anti-vaxx movement are unknowingly a part of he rise of illness. Failing to vaccinate their children not only affects their family, but can cause the illness to spread in school or daycare. It has even gone as far as one school district within Oakland county to not allow children to come to school unless they have been vaccinated, to protect their students.

Luckily, Aquinas has not had to deal with this outbreak directly yet like other counties have. In the meantime, keep up to date on vaccines, see a medical professional immediately if you question illness, and stay healthy.

Categories: News, The Saint

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