In light of the recent measles outbreak that originated in California from a visitor at Disneyland, it is now more prudent than ever to have children all over the country vaccinated.

The outbreak that has since impacted the lives of many people has opened our eyes to the very real fact that measles is still a dangerously relevant virus. Considering that there are many students in all levels of education that remain unvaccinated, it is important to consider how the outbreak may impact not only small communities, but also university campuses. Additionally, considering that the virus is no longer contained on the west coast and has, according to The Washington Post, now spread to eastern states such as New Jersey, there is no longer the illusion that the measles outbreak cannot impact any of us. However, the topic of whether or not children should be vaccinated at an early age remains a persistent point of contention. Despite the debate, given the seriousness of the most recent outbreak of the virus, I believe that it is imperative for all people to be vaccinated.

Although some people continue to argue that it is the right of the child’s parents to choose whether or not their child should be vaccinated, more medical professionals and educators are demanding that children should only be permitted admission into schools after they have had their round of preventative shots. Given the knowledge that we now have regarding measles, the seemingly sensible reason for more commonplace school vaccination requirements is based on how contagious and virtually undetectable the virus can be in its early stages of being contracted.

Medical professional Dr. Richard Besser, chief medical correspondent for ABC News, recently discussed with ABC news anchor George Stephanopoulos the importance of receiving vaccinations at an early age. In discussing the controversial topic, Besser addressed the aforementioned concern of how it is possible for people who are exposed to measles to not show any indication of sickness for up to three weeks following their exposure to the virus. His urging of people to get vaccinations comes from the position that even before the symptoms become apparent to the person infected, it is possible for him or her to already be spreading the virus to those around him or her. For that reason alone, it is evident that vaccinations should be a requirement for everyone under all circumstances, if solely for the health and safety of the public.

As the virus spreads throughout the country and people continue to grow increasingly aware of the consequences of not receiving preventative vaccines, some short-term actions have been taken. A California school in an affected area has already declared that all students who are unvaccinated should remain home during the period that measles can remain undetected simply for everyone’s well-being. Given the overwhelming medical knowledge of the contagious nature of measles, I find the decision to have unvaccinated students remain home to be a practical one. However, I do not believe that the decision is a long-term solution considering that it continues to allow unwilling parents to circumvent vaccinating their child.

There remain too many people who still oppose exposing their child to the measles vaccine. These people maintain the school of thought that vaccines may be harmful and can have dangerous aftereffects, one of which has been the popularized myth that vaccines can cause of autism in children. Kentucky Senator and Ophthalmologist Rand Paul’s recent controversial statement that he has “heard from parents whose children had suffered ‘profound mental disorders’ after being vaccinated” exemplifies how the myth has infiltrated the public’s consciousness as truth. Rather than helping our communities make decisions based on facts, I believe Paul’s actions have instead expedited the likelihood of people merely believing medics who give their “expert opinion,” despite their opinion being based on myth, as well as outside the realm of their field of study.

Measles was eradicated in the United States by the year 2000. The increasing number of non-immunized children, coupled with increased international travel, is what has caused the disease to resurface. Last week, President Barack Obama, in stark contrast to his statement at a campaign rally in 2008 where he stated, “We’ve seen just a skyrocketing autism rate. Some people are suspicious that it’s connected to the vaccines” has now stated that the science behind vaccines is “pretty indisputable,” urging parents to immunize their children. On Feb. 5, 2015, Autism Speaks, a well-known autism advocacy group also urged parents to vaccinate their children, citing extensive research that does not support a link between vaccines and autism.

But perhaps Hillary Rodham Clinton, a likely Democratic presidential candidate, put it best when she weighed in on the debate with a simple tweet: “The science is clear: The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork.”

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