Share this with anyone who doubts vaccines. The U.K. just eliminated measles.

37 years ago, vaccines drove smallpox into extinction. Polio is about to be on death's doorstep. Now the U.K. can say it has added one more name to its personal kill list — measles.

According to a new report from the World Health Organization, Denmark, Spain, and the United Kingdom in 2016 successfully eliminated the measles virus.

The secret behind this achievement is something simple: vaccines and herd immunity.

It's important to note that, as the WHO defines it, "elimination" doesn't mean "completely wiped out." There were still about 1,600 cases in the United Kingdom last year.


Instead, the WHO reports, the United Kingdom has "interrupted endemic transmission." That is to say, enough people are vaccinated that even if someone does catch the virus, it's effectively impossible for the disease to spread. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as herd immunity, and it didn't happen overnight.

This is the culmination of a long, steady vaccination campaign.

Vaccination campaigns can sometimes face challenges — inadequate supply, unequal access to health services, and hesitancy or misinformation.

Still, the four countries of the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) have managed to reach a 95% measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination rate in children younger than 5 years old.

While measles might sound relatively innocuous, it's a serious, potentially deadly disease, especially for children. Measles can cause permanent hearing loss, encephalitis, and death. It can also cause babies to be born prematurely if a pregnant woman contracts the disease. Eliminating it is a big achievement.

The United Kingdom is not the first country to achieve this goal. According to the WHO, 42 out of 53 European countries have achieved elimination.

This news shows that with dedicated, sustained efforts, we can chase some of our greatest specters back into the shadows.

There's still plenty to be done. The U.K. will need to keep up its high vaccination rates and keep the herd immunity strong, or else the disease may gain a foothold once again. But with the vast majority of European countries having now eliminated this disease, measles might soon be marching down the same path as smallpox.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
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This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

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