On the heels of an increasingly widening measles outbreak at Disneyland in California, where at least 28 of the people infected were reportedly unvaccinated, Melinda Gates is urging parents to take advantage of healthcare resources in the United States and get their children vaccinated.
“We take vaccines so for granted in the United States,” Gates explained during an appearance on HuffPost Live Thursday. “Women in the developing world know the power of [vaccines]. They will walk 10 kilometers in the heat with their child and line up to get a vaccine because they have seen death.”
In detailing the struggle parents in the developing world endure to have their children vaccinated, Gates said Americans have simply “forgotten what measles death looks like.”
Through her philanthropy work with husband Bill Gates, Melinda has long worked to help people in developing countries obtain basic healthcare treatment, including vaccine deliveries.
“I’d say to the people of the United States: We’re incredibly lucky to have that technology and we ought to take advantage of it,” she added.
In the United States, the highly contagious disease has reemerged in recent years thanks to the anti-vaccination movement and personal belief exemptions. Use of the controversial waivers is particularly prominent in California.
The recent outbreak at Disneyland has heightened the debate. According to the Associated Press, those infected range from just seven months to 70-years-old, including five park employees.
Dr. James Cherry, a specialist in pediatric infectious diseases at the University of California-Los Angeles, told the New York Times the current outbreak is “100 percent connected” to the anti-immunization movement.
“It wouldn’t have happened otherwise—it wouldn’t have gone anywhere. There are some pretty dumb people out there.”