Ashland has a Problem…

Ashland has a Problem...

Karl Moeglein

In 1998 multiple events occurred that would change the world. 1998 was the year Google was founded. 1998 was the year US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya were bombed, resulting in over 4,500 casualties. Unnoticed behind these large events was something that had just as major long term effects.

In the British Medical Journal The Lancet, Andrew Wakefield published a study linking the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism. The study was retracted within a few years and disproven by other studies published in multiple medical and scientific journals Despite this the effects of Wakefield’s bogus findings have continued to ripple out.

A recent outbreak of chickenpox in the Ashland School District has led to 31 students catching the disease. Once a group has 92% it gains what is called herd immunity. Ashland is nowhere near that. Currently 80% of students have all the necessary vaccinations. Only 75% of incoming kindergarteners were fully vaccinated this year. Even the most vaccinated school in the district, Belleview, has only 87.5% vaccination.

While the state allows for exemptions from vaccinations due to religious beliefs this clearly isn’t the case in Ashland. Ashland is one of the least religious cities in one of the least religious states and almost no religions actually are anti-vaccination. The state’s other exemption is for medical reasons. This can not be accounted for in the case of Ashland’s low vaccination rates. The number of people who have a legitimate medical reason to avoid vaccines is also low.

This brings us back to the Wakefield study. The faulty study is one of the leading reasons why Ashlanders avoid vaccines. Faulty science has caused hundreds of Ashland students to be at risk of diseases such as measles and chickenpox. The most important thing to do now is understand that any minor risks of vaccines do not come close to matching the possibility of an outbreak of a dangerous disease.