measles outbreak
Reactions to the spread are mixed, though most appear to blame the outbreak on this “liberty” to say no to vaccinations. Pictured: Children's doctor Juergen Hochfeld chats with a mother and her 11-month-old daughter Tijana prior to injecting Tijana with a vaccine against measles. Getty Images/Sean Gallup

Washington has declared a state of emergency as the number of cases of measles continues to rise and it is even starting to spread into other neighboring areas. As of this writing, at least 36 patients have been confirmed to have the highly-contagious disease which, according to observations, affected children whose parents opted to not have their kids vaccinated. Reactions to the spread are mixed, though most appear to blame the outbreak on this “liberty” to say no to vaccinations.

An opinion piece on the Los Angeles Times did not hide its disappointment over the spread of the disease. Writer Mariel Gaza pointed out that, notably, the core areas where measles began to spread rapidly are those whose local laws allowed parents to refuse vaccination for their children for whatever personal reason, specifically Oregon and Washington states. Besides Washington and Oregon, there are 16 other U.S. states that give parents this option.

Gaza mentioned that California had a similar stance in the past, but changed its guidelines to require childhood immunizations after a serious outbreak happened in 2014 at Disneyland. Since then, vaccination rates had increased quickly and its locals became much less at risk.

On the other side of the spectrum, CBS News interviewed staunch anti-vaccine supporter Abigail Eckhart, who insisted that it was her right as a parent to refuse getting vaccinations. Her reaction is said to have sprung from an experience with her middle child, who purportedly had severe reactions to vaccination. This is despite assurances from the CDC that it is safe.

The official announcement released by Washington Governor Jay Inslee advised parents whose children are suspected of having measles to stay at home and seek diagnosis without leaving the house. The statement said going to the doctor’s clinic will only put other children and the rest of the public at risk.

According to the CDC website, measles symptoms include a runny nose, high fever, red eyes, cough and sore throat. These are then followed by a rash that spread all over the body and so-called Kopliks spots on the inside of the mouth. It also says that the best protection against it remains the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine.