The first headline of 2019 that really brought my attention to the anti-vax movement read: Measles returned to Costa Rica after five years by French family who had not had vaccinations. I thought the choice of words could have been stronger as the image it left me with was one of a homecoming event except what was being received was one of the world’s most contagious viral diseases that has no specific treatment.
Before the introduction of the measles vaccine in 1963, major measles epidemics occurred almost every two to three years resulting in 2.6 million deaths a year. I continued reading the article about the French boy who brought measles to Costa Rica searching for the part of the article that would mention the new travel alert that had been issued by the country against French citizens or at the very least a mention of tighter travel restrictions for his country people. I am sure that would have been mentioned had this unvaccinated boy come from Guinea, Kenya or India. The headline would also have been something more menacing, perhaps: The African boy who started the Costa Rica measles epidemic.
In an almost apologetic tone, the article continued, “It is unclear why the five-year-old French tourist had never received a measles jab.” I was impressed by the presumption of innocence for a family that had intentionally chosen not to vaccinate their child against a highly contagious, dangerous disease. There were also no mentions of the travel bans I was so eagerly waiting to see as someone whose relatively weak passport makes me relish the few moments when someone else’s passport privilege is checked.
To access the full article on Quartz, click here.