Anti-vaxxers Increase Global Measles Peak



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The rise of the anti-vaxxer movement is being blamed for an alarming resurgence of measles outbreaks worldwide, prompting an urgent warning from the World Health Organization (WHO) on the need for immediate action.

Figures released by the WHO this month found that Europe experienced a record number of people affected by measles in 2018, with experts blaming the anti-vaxxer messages as a major culprit behind the peak.

"The WHO calls on European countries to direct their interventions to places and groups where immunization gaps persist," the statement said.

These "immunization gaps" refer to areas in Europe where the anti-vaxxer movement may be more prevalent.

The report encouraged governments to "identify and address all pockets of under-immunization among their populations."

According to the statement, measles killed 72 children and adults across Europe last year.

"The total number of people infected with the virus in 2018 was the highest in this decade and three times the total reported in 2017," the statement said.

Lead researcher Zsuzsanna Jakab said vaccination gaps at local levels "still provide an open door to the virus," referring to anti-vaxxer movements located throughout the region.

"We can not reach healthier populations globally if we do not work locally," Jakab said.

"We should do more and better protect each person against diseases that can be easily avoided."

AUSTRALIA

Deadly outbreaks of measles are cropping up in other parts of the world as well, with scientists partially attributing the rise in the number of anti-vaxxer groups.

In Australia, the ACT recorded its third measles case in the first two months of 2019.

OCanberra Times reported an infected resident in Canberra, who contracted the disease on a trip abroad, traveled through Canberra airport on Sunday, February 3, from 10 am to 11 am.

The NSW government also issued its ninth health alert for measles only in 2019.

It comes after a man, traveling through Sydney's international airport, tested positive for the highly contagious disease.

Courier-Mail reported that Queensland's teenagers are being secretly immunized despite the wishes of their anti-vaxxer parents in order to protect themselves from deadly diseases.

Queensland legislation allows children over the age of 15 to get immunized.

Doctors are calling this group of teenagers experienced in "Generation V" vaccine.

Queensland teenagers are taking things on their own.

Queensland teenagers are taking things on their own.

PHILIPPINES

The Philippines was hit by a deadly measles outbreak last month, with at least 25 people dead, officials said.

Tragically, most of those killed by the disease were children, with authorities hoping to increase the toll.

Figures from the national health authorities found that the number of measles cases rose from 791 in 2017 to more than 5,000 last year.

In January alone, there were more than 1800 cases.

Philippine Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo told reporters last week that vaccination rates among the population were declining over the past five years.

"In recent years, it was the Dengvaxia vaccine issue that contributed," he said, referring to a recent public immunization campaign that led to public panic after the vaccine manufacturer revealed that its product could lead to some serious side effects .

U.S

Washington residents are facing the worst outbreak of measles in the state in more than 20 years.

According The Washington PostAt least 56 people in Washington and Oregon contracted the disease last month.

Health officials have declared a public health emergency, with experts predicting that the outbreak may still be in its infancy.

Signs posted at The Vancouver Clinic in Washington alerting patients of a measles outbreak.

Signs posted at The Vancouver Clinic in Washington alerting patients of a measles outbreak.

The pediatrician at Seattle Children's Hospital, Douglas J. Opel, said The Washington Post The "alarming" outbreak, which affected many young children, highlighted how powerful the anti-vaxxer movement was in the United States.

"Every time we have an outbreak of a disease against which we have a safe and effective vaccine, we should raise a red flag," he said.

Despite the state facing the crisis, large anti-vaxxer groups gathered outside the White House to oppose a bill that would "make it more difficult for families to abandon measles, mumps and rubella vaccination requirements."

Anti-vaxxers hand signals at a protest this month in Washington.

Anti-vaxxers hand signals at a protest this month in Washington.

ANTI-VAXXERS

The anti-vaxxer movement has become so aggressively prolific all over the world in recent years, including large areas of Australia, that WHO has released packets of information for members of the public and health professionals on "how to respond to vocal denunciations in public" .

Information packets define terms such as Vaccine refusers, vaccine skeptics or members of a anti-vaccinal movement and seek to explain how these groups work to change collective thinking.

"A vaccine denier ignores any amount of evidence provided and criticizes the scientific approach as a whole," says WHO.

"Indeed, vaccine deniers may even counteract persuasive arguments."

According to the WHO, vaccine deniers frequently distort rational science, censor or turn off critics to avoid open discussion and attack scientists.

The groups claim that associating the word "movement" with anti-vaxxers is misleading because it suggests that the group of immunization deniers is "a powerful and coordinated group, united by a shared collective identity."

"However, in most countries, vaccine refugees represent a small proportion of individuals with several reasons for not accepting vaccines," the organization said.

"These few deniers certainly do not represent a movement."

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