For generations of older Americans the developments and advances in vaccines were nothing short of miraculous.

To live in a society where it was possible to get vaccinated for polio and then to watch vaccines develop for the range of diseases such as mumps, measles, rubella, chickenpox, etc. was considered one of society’s greatest advances.

Who would not want to vaccinate and protect their child from a damaging and potentially life-threatening disease?

As it turned out, a opposition to vaccines started and slowly grew, partly based on the unfounded fear that vaccines were tied to autism.

There is no scientific basis for the belief that any of the vaccines cause autism, but this one situation where the desire to protect your child was overwhelmed by the fear of inflicting damage on your child for at least some people.

For whatever reason, the Pacific Northwest has a higher concentration of people who opt to not vaccinate their child than other regions in the nation.

We are seeing this play out this winter with an outbreak of disease-preventable measles in Southwest Washington. While the outbreak right now is focused in the Vancouver area, it will undoubtably spread. There was an AP story Tuesday morning about a child traveling from Washington developing measles in Hawaii.

With the state high school playoff season coming up with teams from all over the state, mingling and competing in different locations there will be many opportunities for the disease to spread. A good example would be a whooping cough outbreak several years ago where the spread was tied to a sports tournament.

What this means is even Kittitas County residents need to be cognizant of the danger of measles and make sure their children are vaccinated.

Vaccinations are a combination of a personal right and societal responsibility. A person can choose for themselves and their minor children to not get vaccinated, but the community at large also has a right to protect itself against preventable diseases. Complications include pneumonia and encephalitis so it is potentially more impactful than just missing school for a few days.

Obviously, vaccination is a private decision that others may not know about. A main indication of the success of the anti-vaccination movement is the prevalence and spread vaccine-preventable diseases in the community.

It is true that much is unknown about what causes autism. That is a reason to support autism research. Human history is replete with examples of our lack of knowledge of what causes an occurrence leading to incorrectly assigning the blame.

By all means, let’s be driven to find the causes for autism but that can be done while properly vaccinating our child to protect them and others they contact.

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