Opinion | Get vaccinated or stay home

Olivia Harden, features editor

Measles has reared its ugly head in California. The disease was declared eradicated in 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but we’re now seeing the largest nationwide outbreak since its eradication. From December 2014 to April 2015, a major outbreak occurred. At least 131 California residents were infected with measles; and also infected residents of six other states, Mexico, and Canada, according to the California Department of Public Health. Five individuals who traveled internationally returned carrying the disease, bringing it back to California, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Officials have advised that anyone who is about to leave the country get the two recommended doses of the measles vaccine – estimated to be about 97 percent effective. None of the five people who traveled internationally, bringing back the disease, had both doses, according to the Los Angeles Times.

This is a health crisis. But the truth is, it never had to happen.

A now-retracted study falsely linked vaccines to autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and that’s a reason “anti-vaxxers,” or people who believe vaccination causes negative side effects now cite as a reason for skipping immunization. But the risks that come with vaccination are very minor, according to the CDC. The side effects of vaccines are most often minimal, like redness after injection. And, the CDC points out, vaccines prevent the deadly diseases.

Anti-vaxxers are often massively misinformed and believe the cons of vaccination outweigh the pros. And that study that found a false connection between autism and vaccination has been debunked (and retracted).

In one of the more recent studies, after looking at the health records of more than 95,000 children, the Journal of the American Medical Association found that again vaccines do not cause autism. Andrew Wakefield, who authored the 1998 study that’s now been retracted by the journal that published it, was found to have acted unethically in 2010, according to BBC News.

The authors of the new 2015 study said that they observed “no association” between the measles, mumps and rubella vaccination (MMR) and increased risk of autism. “We also found no evidence that receipt of either one or two doses of MMR vaccination was associated with an increased risk of ASD among children who had older siblings with ASD,” the authors wrote.

Babies aren’t advised to get the vaccine until they are at least a year old, according to the CDC. Some people may be allergic to certain vaccinations or have medical conditions like cancer, which prevent vaccination. This means that when healthy, capable people refuse to get vaccinated, they are putting others at risk.

Not getting vaccinated is an irresponsible and unethical practice. I have a friend with late-stage cancer who had to quarantine themselves because the outbreak in Los Angeles has gotten out of control. Twenty-seven University of California, Los Angeles students and 221 California State University, Los Angeles students and staff were quarantined April 29 after this latest no-vaccine epidemic.

In short, get vaccinated. Get your children vaccinated. Stop creating a health crisis that targets vulnerable populations because of rumors based on pseudoscience. And if you refuse, maybe you should just stay home.