The recent anti-immunization movement has provoked serious backlash from the medical community. While there are a handful of medical professionals that support the movement, as of June, legal measures taken in response to a virulent measles outbreak at Disneyland in California now require residents to vaccinate their children.
California is one of only a handful of states that now requires vaccinations regardless of religious or personal exemptions. Lawmakers cited decades of studies published through the American Academy of Pediatrics that found vaccines to be safe
However, as of last week, the first known US fatality from measles in more than a decade has been reported by health officials in Washington state. Measles is an airborne disease and infection that can cause a whole host of issues across the body, and for the unnamed Washington woman who passed away it was simply too much for her body to handle.
Health officials believe the woman was likely exposed during her stay at a medical facility as a result of a recent outbreak. While she never showed the usual symptoms of measles, like a rash, it was discovered after her death that her body was racked with the infection. It also made her susceptible to pneumonia, which was ruled as the official cause of death.
It is not known whether or not the woman was immunized against measles, but health officials have stated that there were measles antibodies in her system. At the time, she had been taking medications that weakened her immune system as a part of another treatment, and it is believed that this is what made her susceptible to measles.
While healthy children are often able to combat measles, people with weakened immune systems are unable to fight off the infection even with vaccination. For many in the medical community, this makes measles vaccination even more important as a means of protecting immunodeficient patients from the disease.
Washington lawmakers have yet to comment on their own vaccination policies, but as of now they allow both religious and personal belief exemptions.