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Old August 27th, 2013 (8:00 AM).
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Livewire Livewire is offline
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In Texas, a (most likely now formerly) anti-vaccine megachurch is the epicenter of a measles outbreak that so far has infected 20 people.

The Eagle Mountain International Church is led by pastor Terri Copeland Pearsons, daughter of televangelist Kenneth Copeland. (The church is part of his ministries.) Pearsons claims she’s not anti-vax, but the church does promote faith healing, and in August Pearsons voiced concern over vaccinations and autism, a link which has been thoroughly debunked. Kenneth Copeland has promoted anti-vax and anti-science nonsense on his television show in the past (start at 20:10 into the video).

Apparently, the measles virus was introduced by a visitor to the church who had recently traveled overseas (a common way the virus gets into the population). All these measles cases are reported to have been in families that chose not to vaccinate, and all the children infected to have been home-schooled. (I’ll note that Texas law requires children attending public school to be vaccinated.)

The good news is that after all this, Pearsons has started promoting immunization to the congregation. Also, the infected people are probably past the stage where they can infect others, so most likely we’ve seen the peak of this particular outbreak.

This story punctuates how vaccine denial puts others at risk. Sadly, more evidence of this is easy to find.

[UPDATE (Aug. 26 at 18:00 UTC): I originally neglected to add that the Netherlands is suffering through a massive outbreak, with over 1160 cases reported. This has happened in a region that is largely anti-vaccination due to either religious reasons (the area is called the Dutch "Bible Belt"; one in five cases are due to this (this number is too low, see Update 2 below)) or because they have embraced anthroposophism, a form of quackery which employs the use of provably useless therapies like homeopathy.]

[UPDATE 2 (Aug. 26 at 18:30 UTC): Dr. Marco Langbroek notes that the Dutch Healthcare Agency tags the religious Protestant community with close to 90 percent of the cases, which is very different than the source linked above; given that this is from the official health agency, it seems more reliable.]

[Update 3 and hopefully the last (Aug 26. at 18:45 UTC): To be clear: About 20 percent of the anti-vaxxers in that region are part of the Protestant group, but they make up the majority of the measles cases reported. There has been some difficulty with translation, and for that I apologize.]

In March, there was a substantial outbreak of measles in a Jewish community in Brooklyn, N.Y. Over the course of three months, 58 cases were reported—in one case, a child who came down with measles also contracted pneumonia. Two pregnant women were hospitalized due to this outbreak, and one of them miscarried. All of the cases were from people who refused or delayed vaccinations.

As the Wall Street Journal reports,

The department traced the outbreak to a person who it concluded brought the virus from a trip to London, says Jay Varma, the department's deputy commissioner for disease control. Overall, vaccination rates are high in the communities, he says, but the outbreak then started in a small group of families with members who refused vaccines, he says.

Not every outbreak is so easy to trace, but certainly low vaccination rates will substantially increase the odds of one. Vancouver had one in July, and there was worry about one when two cases popped up in California that same month.

I can’t stress this enough: Measles is an entirely preventable disease. If enough people get vaccinated then there is herd immunity, and the virus can’t find enough hosts to live in, preventing others from getting infected.

Measles is not a disease we should screw around with. Out of 1,000 people who contract it, one or two will die, and many more will require hospitalization. In general, those at risk are seniors and infants too young to be vaccinated. Approximately 100,000 children a year worldwide die of measles. That’s more than the entire population of my hometown of Boulder, Colo. Imagine an entire city of children dying from a preventable disease, and perhaps you can understand why I’m so vocal about this.

Talk to your board-certified doctor, and if he or she recommends it, get your vaccinations. Not just for measles, but for many other easily preventable (and potentially deadly) diseases as well. Remember, adults need boosters every so often, so make sure you ask about that, too.
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Old August 27th, 2013 (9:07 AM).
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Esper Esper is offline
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Stories like this just underline the importance of modern medicine in keeping infections from becoming epidemics. Imagine if most people in Texas weren't vaccinated, if even 20% of people weren't. It rather irritates me that people keep repeating anti-vaccine nonsense, especially the non-existent autism link. They're putting people at risk.
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Old September 5th, 2013 (1:18 PM).
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Seriously, being anti-vaccine is one step away from being anti-breathing. Karma does exist.
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Old September 5th, 2013 (1:53 PM).
Blade_of_darkness Blade_of_darkness is offline
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    Heh, this is blind fanaticism at its worst. I can somewhat understand some churches going against blood transfusions, but this?? Vaccines are very imperative preventative measures, & without them, these people are just begging to be riddled with infectious disease.

    Hence, that's why I think that church is filled with such fanatics.

    Thankfully, now that the pastor has opened her eyes to the grave consequences of this, there's hope for this church yet.
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    Old September 5th, 2013 (2:27 PM).
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    I say it's a pretty dick move to not have your child vaccinated. It's a cheap, quick, but effective solution to a lot of problems down the road, but if you don't want to vaccinate, it's a bad idea waiting to happen. More power to you, but don't go crying to taxpayers when your child gets chronically ill because you decided to not vaccinate and you need help.
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    Old September 5th, 2013 (3:04 PM).
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    It's... kinda effective?
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    My thoughts?

    God is sending them a message. He's telling them to go get vaccinated.
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    Old September 6th, 2013 (9:15 PM).
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    TRIFORCE89 TRIFORCE89 is offline
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    This trend of religious institutions being anti-vaccine or science/medicine in general makes no sense to me at all. I went to a Catholic school (for both elementary and high school) and we had vaccinations on the premise o.o
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    Old September 6th, 2013 (10:33 PM).
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    Elaitenstile Elaitenstile is offline
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      I don't really think they're gonna achieve anything by not vaccinating, but if it's their religion, so be it.
      I'm not rubbing on them that the outbreak is just their spite, but they had it coming. Let's just hope this doesn't happen again.
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      Old September 7th, 2013 (5:54 PM).
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      Silais Silais is offline
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        It's confusing to me how people can continue to deny science as a logical and necessary part of human life in favor of religion, which oftentimes works as a detriment to the people involved. Vaccines are not the devil; they're tools that man can use to prevent others from getting diseases and illnesses which would otherwise seriously harm or kill them. Why is that considered evil or wrong? It's evil and wrong to refuse to vaccinate your child and put them at risk for infection and disease. Sure, vaccines are not fun to receive, but they're worth the discomfort.
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        Old September 8th, 2013 (8:26 AM).
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        goldengyarados goldengyarados is offline
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          This is why I don't like religion.
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          Old September 9th, 2013 (12:06 PM).
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          Livewire Livewire is offline
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          Originally Posted by TRIFORCE89 View Post
          This trend of religious institutions being anti-vaccine or science/medicine in general makes no sense to me at all. I went to a Catholic school (for both elementary and high school) and we had vaccinations on the premise o.o
          Same here. Just as uptight about everybody having all their shots as any other place.

          The rise of this anti-science thing is troubling, though. I'd be a shame for someone to willingly not vaccinate theier child and have the child die of a nearly eradicated disease in the developed world. Perhaps it would be a bit of an eye opener to them.

          But really, we should be blaming Jenny McCarthy and her anti-vaccine movement mumbo jumbo which put this front and center in the American media. So the crazy could spread, one channel at a time.
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