Data and Discourse

My data visualization is titled “Watch how the measles outbreak spreads when kids get vaccinated – and when they don’t” on The Guardian website. This visualization was created by Rich Harris, Nadja Popovich and Kenton Powell. It shows 10 pools filled with 100 small circles, each small circle representing a person. Each pool is representative of a county with an X% vaccination rate against measles (10%, 30%, etc.). Some are more precise and are made to be similar to counties in the U.S. When run, the simulation throws red circles (contact with an infected person) at each pool in turn in attempt to infect them. The counties with lower vaccination rates naturally have a higher rate of infection or susceptibility, and those with higher vax rates don’t.

The Guardian team made this visualization in response to the high number of states that allow parents of children attending public school to not vaccinate their children for personal reasons. In addition, the election brought this issue back to light, with politicians on both sides of the aisle making claims about vaccination. The Guardian team wanted to set the record straight on how vaccination is necessary for individual health but can also provide “herd immunity”, such that one person’s vaccination protects another protects another. In all, their case is comprehensive and covers all of the benefits of vaccination.

The visualization makes no mention of vaccines causing autism, because that claim is utterly preposterous.


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