CLP Current Event: January 29, 2019

The current measles outbreak in SW Washington has revived the debate of personal choice versus the common good. Which is more important in a democracy? Learn more in this week’s Current Event.

Brought to teachers by Susie Marcus, CLP consultant, with CLP staff.

News Sources

Washington is under a state of emergency as measles cases rise, by Amir Vera, CNN, January 27, 2019
“A news release on the governor’s website says the Washington State Department of Health, or DOH, has implemented an infectious disease incident management structure so it can manage the public health aspects of the outbreak through investigations and lab testing.”

Harvard researcher: Clark County measles outbreak a ‘serious concern’, by Maggie Vespa, KGW, January 27, 2019
“According to The Columbian, this outbreak has already cost Clark County more than $100,000. Officials warn the cost could reach seven figures. It’s a routine Dr. Lipsitch watched time and again, following outbreaks at Disneyland in 2015 and a record number of cases in Europe last year, in the tens of thousands. The vast majority, experts say, are courtesy of anti-vaxxer conspiracy theorists. And as Dr. Lipsitch points out, it’s putting the innocent at risk.”

Measles outbreak grows in Pacific Northwest, 31 cases reported, by Associated Press, NBC News, January 25, 2019
“Clark County, which includes the Portland bedroom community of Vancouver, Washington, has a measles vaccination rate of 78 percent, well below the 92 to 94 percent rate required for so-called “herd immunity,” said Marissa Armstrong, the department’s spokeswoman. Herd immunity happens when unvaccinated individuals are protected from infection because almost everyone around them has been vaccinated and is immune to a disease.”

Officials in anti-vaccination ‘hotspot’ near Portland declare an emergency over measles outbreak, by Isaac Stanley-Becker, The Washington Post, January 23, 2019
“At the beginning of last week, there were only a handful of confirmed cases. On Friday, the day the emergency was declared, there were 19. By Sunday, that number had grown to 21. The latest update came Tuesday, when county officials said they had confirmed 23 cases and were investigating two more suspected cases. The vast majority of those who have fallen ill had not been immunized.”

Questions to Consider

  • What is the virus called measles?
  • What are the effects of contracting measles?
  • How does measles spread?
  • What vaccines are available to counteract measles?
  • What advice do Health professionals give about protection from measles?
  • What is the measles report from international health organizations? Is measles a more significant problem for third world countries?
  • Why do some people object to the measles vaccine?
  • Is this a “common good” issue? Why or why not?
  • Where does the government’s right to require vaccinations come from?
  • Is this a majority/minority issue? When do minority rights take second place to majority rights? How do we protect both majority and minority rights?
  • What responsibility do citizens have to prevent illness that could spread to others?
  • Do governments have the right to force citizens to be vaccinated? Why or why not?
  • What might be the philosophical objections to vaccination?

Background and More

Measles, Washington State Department of Health, August, 2017
CLP: Great visuals

Should Any Vaccines Be Required for Children,
CLP: Background information, pro/con arguments and quotes

History of Anti-vaccination Movements, The History of Vaccines

Are We the First Area to Suffer Real-World Consequences From Not Vaccinating Our Kids?, by Marty Smith, Willamette Week, January 22, 2019

Lesson Plans

None for this Current Event

Constitutional and Legal Connections

Where does the government’s right to require vaccinations come from?, by Laura Beltz, Constitution Daily, February 27, 2015

Jacobson v. Massachusetts, Wikipedia, December 2, 2018

State Vaccination Exemptions for Children Entering Public Schools,, July 18, 2018

Oregon Connections

See above

Oregon State Social Science Standards

8.8 Evaluate information from a variety of sources and perspectives.
8.21 Analyze important political and ethical values such as freedom, democracy, equality and justice embodied in documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
8.26 Examine a controversial event, issue, or problem from more than one perspective.
HS.18 Analyze the impact of human migration on physical and human systems (e.g., urbanization, immigration, urban to rural).
HS.28 Evaluate how governments interact at the local, state, tribal, national, and global levels.
HS.31 Describe United States foreign policy and evaluate its impact on the United States and other countries.
HS.33 Explain the role of government in various current events.
HS.35 Examine the pluralistic realities of society (e.g., race, poverty, gender and age), recognizing issues of equity, and evaluating need for change.
HS.59 Demonstrate the skills and dispositions needed to be a critical consumer of information.
HS.60. Analyze an event, issue, problem, or phenomenon from varied or opposing perspectives or points of view.

We the People Lesson Connections

Middle School, Level 2

  • Unit 6, Lesson 28: What is the relationship of the United States to other nations in the world?
  • Unit 6, Lesson 30: How might citizens participate in civic affairs?

High School, Level 3

  • Unit 6, Lesson 34: What is the importance of civic engagement to American constitutional democracy?
  • Unit 6, Lesson 37: What key challenges does the United States face in the future?