The Council on Foreign Relations released an interactive map in October 2011, and it gained a lot of attention earlier this week. The map is regularly updated and shows worldwide vaccine-preventable outbreaks from 2008-2014.
There are a few important things to note about the map. The red dots represent measles, and it’s covered the United Kingdom and is showing up in the United States as well. Mumps (dark green dots) are also completely covering the United Kingdom, and showing up in the United States; both of these are part of the MMR vaccine. Whooping cough (bright green dots) has really only been a problem in the United States, and there is quite a bit of it.
Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times wrote an article about the map, and commented:
“The lesson of all this is that vaccination is not an individual choice to be made by a parent for his or her own offspring. It’s a public health issue, because the diseases contracted by unvaccinated children are a threat to the community. That’s what public health is all about, and an overly tolerant approach to non-medical exemptions – and publicity given to anti-vaccination charlatans like Wakefield and McCarthy by heedless promoters like, sadly, Katie Couric, affect us all.”
The map highlights the imperative need for parents to vaccinate their children. All parents should consult their pediatrician when making vaccination decisions that will impact public health.