One of my long-held beliefs is that the anti-vaccine movement is more of a pose and fashion statement than a serious belief, and it seems like my theory has been confirmed in Washington:
Demand for measles vaccines leapt 500 percent last month in Clark County, Washington—a hotbed for anti-vaccine sentiment that has now become the epicenter of a ferocious measles outbreak.
As of February 6, the county—which sits just north of the border from Portland, Oregon—has tallied 50 confirmed cases and 11 suspected cases of measles since January 1. The case count is rising swiftly, with figures more than doubling in just the last two weeks. On January 18, the county declared a public health emergency due to the outbreak.
Health officials have long feared an outbreak in the area, given the rampant skepticism of vaccines driven by misinformation and fear-mongering by anti-vaccine advocates. Only 76.5 percent of kindergarteners in Clark County had all the standard immunizations during the 2017-2018 school year. Overall, the county’s population is below the 92-percent to 94-percent range some experts consider necessary to curb the spread of disease.
But, that might be about to change. As the threat of measles has become all too real in Clark County, residents are lining up for vaccines, according to data first reported by Kaiser Health News. Orders of measles vaccines in the county reached 3,150 in January. That is nearly a 500-percent jump in orders from January last year, when the total was just 530. Statewide vaccine figures also reflect a boost. Orders for measles vaccine climbed 30 percent in Washington overall, from 12,140 doses in January last year to 15,780 doses in January of this year.