An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
NEW CASES OF MEASLES seem to come up every day in B.C. and, while not quite an epidemic yet, it’s raising new concerns about a disease we’d all thought was finished.
In Europe, the number of measles cases has multiplied by four times in just the past year and has caused 37 deaths. The World Health Organization says the increase results from opposition to vaccines.
That, in turn, has spurred a debate about mandatory vaccination versus the rights of parents to make health decisions for their children.
The opposition to being vaccinated against measles comes from what are called anti-vaxers who are convinced the vaccine can cause autism.
Research claiming certain vaccines are linked to autism has been discredited. Many medical associations and health organizations have offered assurances that the vaccine is safe and effective but that hasn’t settled the argument.
A petition has been signed by more than 30,000 people demanding that measles vaccinations be made mandatory in B.C. Instead, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix is considering mandatory registration of vaccination status when kids start school.
It’s a start but B.C. should go further.
An Angus Reid Institute public opinion survey released last week showed 70 per cent of Canadians think vaccinations against measles and other deadly diseases should be a must for kids entering school.
Mandatory vaccination is hardly a new concept. Without it, smallpox might still be with us. When polio was raging, school children were administered oral vaccine — I was one who received it and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t optional.
The success of vaccination programs in comparison with the risks of side effects is indisputable.
We’ve got to stop the return of measles in its tracks; Dix should reconsider.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.