As of Feb. 6, 2019, 79 cases of measles had been reported in the United States, more than two for every day of the year so far with 50 of these cases reported in Washington state. However, the outbreak has spread around Brooklyn, New York, Oregon and Connecticut. According to the New York Times, around 79 percent of kindergarteners in Washington state have been vaccinated before enrolling, leaving the approximately 20 percent gap of unvaccinated students the largest out of any state in the country.

The question remains as to why there are people that choose to not vaccinate their children Most parents who refuse to vaccinate cite religious and moral reasons among why they chose not to have their child receive the round of shots that has become almost mandatory within the last generation. This lent itself toward all but eliminating society collapsing diseases such as measles and polio. For many school districts, even the University of Maine, skipping vaccinations is allowed under “moral, philosophical, or other personal belief’ exemption upheld in Maine state law.

In order to fully understand the viewpoint of the anti-vax community, I asked myself a few questions; one of which being “did I get a flu shot this year?” I didn’t. I assumed that because I was a healthy, active, young adult, even if I did happen to get the flu I could afford the 48 hours it put me out of commission. While looking further into this concept, however, I was faced with situations others might be in and the fact that at the end of the day, we are not getting flu shots just for ourselves. We are getting flu shots for our elderly neighbors, our friends with immune system disabilities or our baby cousins whose young age puts them in compromising positions when trying to fight off disease and illness. In more severe cases, diseases such as measles won’t just leave a child with a fever but could cost them their lives.

According to epistemologists, the vaccination rate for measles needs to be at 93 percent or higher in order to keep an outbreak from occurring and this level is not met in Washington state. Fears of pharmaceutical companies and popularities of herbal or home remedies are on the rise, while the safety of our children is declining.

As simple as it may seem to be able to look out amongst the general public and feel waves of relief that we no longer seem to be plagued with so many horrifying diseases, it’s important to keep in mind that these never truly go away. At any moment they will be ready to strike on those who have not already taken prior precautions. No matter what documents have been released to the public, including the classic “vaccines cause autism” study which has since been ruled false, medical professionals advocate everywhere for vaccines in order to form a healthier and safer environment that, when vaccinated, America’s youth can enjoy.