Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.


One tweet that says it all: Americans don't know how to react to epidemics

Remember when the Ebola Outbreak first started in West Africa? It broke out in countries that are over 5,000 miles away from the United States. So logically of course, there were a lot of people in the US who were afraid of catching the virus and acted a lot like this:

And we’re not just talking about fear here. Fear is normal. Even if we rationally understand that, in the US, our chances of contracting Ebola are slim to none, our minds focus on that million-in-one possibility that it could happen. However, the reaction from the US went way beyond that. We had states imposing unnecessary quarantines on people flying in from West Africa. Then there was the push for a travel ban on everyone coming from Africa, the universities that stopped accepting applications from West African students, and so on--the ignorance was real.

Fast forward a few months and the news hits of a Measles outbreak that has started spreading from California (not 5,000 miles away) and so far the overall concern for the issue has amounted to something like this:

Or this...

Hmm...something seems a bit off. Either we have a really big issue with geography or there’s something else wrong here. Thankfully we have satirist, writer and former lawyer, Elnathan John, to explain the irony, oh so wonderfully, on twitter for us:

Thank you Elnathan, for pointing out such a skewed sense of concern. In order to catch Ebola, one would have to come in contact with another person’s blood, semen, or fecal matter. The chances of that are pretty slim walking around one’s neighborhood in the US. Measles on the other hand is airborne. All someone has to do is cough or sneeze and 90% of those standing close will be infected...UNLESS there is a vaccine to stop it.

But wait, there is! In fact, the measles vaccine has lead to a 99% reduction of cases reported in the US since it’s been around.

So how come there are now over 100 cases reported since the Disneyland incident? Because for some reason, not everyone in the United States is vaccinated. Now, we talk about vaccines A LOT at Global Citizen. Normally, it’s about trying to increase access for populations in developing countries. But this is not a matter of access, or limitation that prevents children from being vaccinated against the measles. It’s a decision some parents make for their kids that has now presented a threat to the public health of the US.

The Guardian put up an interesting infographic that illustrates quite clearly, what one’s chances are of catching the measles with the vaccine versus without. Moral of the story? Do not give pass up an opportunity to make illness preventable. Vaccinate. If you have access, vaccinate.

Oh and the other part, let’s not be so quick to quarantine an entire continent when disease hits. Because As Elnathan pointed out, it’s pretty much ridiculous.


Alex Vinci