Three years after the disease had been eradicated in the UK, we have lost our measles-free status. In 2018, UK cases of measles compared to the previous year had more than tripled, and in the first quarter of 2019 there were more than 230 cases reported. This is not acceptable in a country with access to the free vaccination.

Not vaccinating your child is a warped kind of selfishness on all accounts. Firstly, there is the obvious potential suffering to which you are exposing your child. Then there is the risk you are putting upon others – those with weakened immune systems due to disease, transplant, age, pregnancy; the list is endless. So why doesn’t everyone do it?

Some parents make the active choice not to protect their child from preventible disease because they believe that to do so would be to interfere with god’s will – if god wants your child to die from measles, then you can’t do anything to prevent his plan coming to fruition. This is insane, because it allows personal belief to impact a child’s health; religion can have its place in your own healthcare, but you should not be able to impose this onto a child who has not yet made up their own mind about any religion.

Unfortunately, the fact is that not all anti-vaccination parents do so because of religion; many do it because of the myths surrounding autism and the MMR vaccine. Untrue myths suggesting that the vaccination causes autism in children have led to swathes of parents deciding not to do what is scientifically proven to be best for their child. Why? Because they would rather risk their child having a preventible disease, than autism. What does that say about the way these people view the 700,000 autistic adults and children in the UK alone?

Not vaccinating a child for unwarranted fear of disability is cruel from all angles. Perhaps if people are so terrified of their children being autistic, they should take a look at the way they themselves treat those with autism, and then ask themselves why they would not want their own child treated in that way. We are not yet an autism-friendly society, though steps are being made through Autism Hours at supermarkets and so on, but attitudes like those of anti-vaxxers only worsen the world for those with autism who live in it.

Therefore, losing our measles-free status has brought so much darkness to light. Firstly, it has shown us that attitudes towards disability that so many of us had thought to be well on their way to the grave are still thriving in British homes. But it has also shown that perhaps it should not be a parent’s individual decision whether or not to give their child available, proven, effective vaccines. Instead, perhaps we have to make them compulsory, so as to prevent parents’ personal beliefs from damaging the lives and healths of their own children, and of others around them.