Measles outbreak in Disneyland gives increased relevance to new campaign to promote vaccines

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148559465The year 2014 saw the highest number of measles cases in the United States in the past two decades. And one of the major reasons for this upswing is the fact that parents are increasingly choosing not to vaccinate their children. Nowhere in the country is this more apparent than in Hollywood s elite schools, where vaccination vaccination compliance has fallen to as low as 65 percent.

The new year does not seem to be bringing any good news on the vaccine front either. A measles outbreak that began at Disneyland last December, has now possibly spread to nearby areas in Orange County. So far, nine cases of measles have been confirmed and of those individuals, only one was vaccinated (six were unvaccinated and two were too young to be vaccinated).

This outbreak clearly indicates that not only are anti-vaccine parents putting their own children at risk, they are putting other children in the community at risk. Well, a new online campaign, The Art of Saving a Life, sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is aiming to promote vaccination in an effort to raise money to vaccinate millions in poor nations. The campaign is using visuals in order to promote vaccines and the foundation has commissioned photographers, writers, filmmakers and musicians to produce work to counter the anti-vaccine hysteria. Although the focus of the foundation is not necessarily in the United States, it is extremely relevant in light of recent outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases here.

Dr. Christopher Elias, president of the global development program at the Gates Foundation says, We want to get the buzz and the conversation going, because it s easy to take these important lifesaving tools for granted. Art will serve as a reminder to people who aren t going to read the editorial in Science.

ACSH s Ariel Savransky adds, This is an interesting project and represents a new way of approaching the question as to how to increase the vaccination rates in our country. Last year, a study was done that found that educational efforts to reduce parents fears related to vaccines not only did not result in an increase in the number of parents choosing to vaccinate their children but also resulted in increasing parents fears. Clearly a new approach is needed and hopefully this project will have positive results.