LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - With a growing number of measles cases across the country, how are parents in Southwest Louisiana reacting?
While there aren’t any current reported cases of measles in Louisiana, there have been 79 cases nationwide so far this year. The wave of reports is reigniting the conversation about vaccinating children.
“It’s a significant public health issue," Caroline Soileau, a woman who supports vaccinations, said.
“Entirely unfazed, really," said one mom against vaccinations, who wants to remain anonymous due to what she said is a “hostile social climate.” “I think another big reason, what it came down to for me, is the lack of safety studies done on vaccines and studies done on a long-term effects of vaccines.”
The anonymous anti-vaccination supporter said the reports this year don’t worry her.
“The measles is a cyclical disease, so the number of cases are really in line with the usual yearly statistics, from what I’ve seen," she said.
While Soileau said she believes those who aren’t vaccinated are putting others who are vulnerable, at risk.
“Children under the age of one cannot get the MMR vaccine, and also kids who are immuno-compromised can’t get the MMR vaccine," Soileau said. "So, that means that whenever there’s not that herd immunity there, whenever the majority of a population isn’t vaccinated, people who are susceptible to those diseases, the un-vaccinated ones, and the immuno-compimised ones, are more susceptible to them now, getting them now, because they’re exposed to it more.”
Louisiana is one of 18 states that doesn’t require parents to vaccinate their children due to personal beliefs. The debate over whether not vaccinating puts the state at risk for increased measles cases, continues.
“To me, that means there’s a greater potential that we have hundreds of people walking around with no immunity to this at all. Then, there’s also this deep-rooted survivor’s bias that a lot of people have, especially the older generation. You’ll hear them say a lot ‘I got the measles as a kid and I’m fine. I lived to tell about it.’ But, the fact you lived to tell about it doesn’t say anything about its safety," Soileau said.
“I’m not nervous about that. If my kids got measles, it would not upset me that much. I mean, it’s—no one likes to see their child in pain or sick; which, everybody’s kids get sick from time to time. I feel like the good thing about measles is that you would become immune and it would be a one-time thing, plus, then you’d have lower risk for certain cancers because you’d have that natural immunity," Anonymous said.
According to the Louisiana Department of Health, the MMR two-dose vaccination rate among kindergartners in the state is 96.1% which is very close to top in the nation.