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With Outbreaks, States Push Back On Anti-Vaccine Movement

Outbreaks of measles, whooping cough and more are growing, spreading because of the anti-vaccine movement. Now there’s pushback. We’ll check in.

In this Thursday, May 3, 2012 file photo, Nurses Fatima Guillen, left, and Fran Wendt, right, give Kimberly Magdeleno, 4, a whooping cough booster shot, as she is held by her mother, Claudia Solorio, at a health clinic in Tacoma, Wash. A government study offers a new theory on why the whooping cough vaccine doesn't seem to prevent outbreaks that well. In research involving baboons, researchers found that while the vaccine may keep people from getting sick, it fails to prevent the germ from spreading, said one of the researchers, Tod Merkel of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (AP)

In this Thursday, May 3, 2012 file photo, Nurses Fatima Guillen, left, and Fran Wendt, right, give Kimberly Magdeleno, 4, a whooping cough booster shot, as she is held by her mother, Claudia Solorio, at a health clinic in Tacoma, Wash. A government study offers a new theory on why the whooping cough vaccine doesn’t seem to prevent outbreaks that well. In research involving baboons, researchers found that while the vaccine may keep people from getting sick, it fails to prevent the germ from spreading, said one of the researchers, Tod Merkel of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (AP)

The last ten or fifteen years have been a rough road for childhood vaccines and vaccination.  After a century in which they became the great bulwark against all kinds of disease – smallpox, measles, mumps, whooping cough, polio, more – suddenly vaccines were tagged as a threat.  Blamed for autism and more.  The science says it’s not true.  But uncertain parents have turned away.  Now vaccination rates have fallen enough to cut into what’s called our “herd immunity.”  We’re vulnerable again to disease.  Now states are pushing back.  This hour On Point:  the anti-vaccine threat and reaction.

— Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Michael Booth, health and medical reporter for The Denver Post. (@mboothDP)

Steven Salzberg, professor of medicine and bio-statistics at Johns Hopkins University. Blogs about pseudo-science and “bad medicine” for Forbes Magazine.

Paul Offit, chief of the division of infectious diseases and the director of the vaccine education center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Professor of vaccinology and pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine. Author of “Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine,” “Deadly Choices: How The Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All,” “Vaccines and Your Child: Separating Fact From Fiction,” “Austism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine and the Search For A Cure” and “Vaccinated: One Man’s Quest to Eradicate the World’s Deadliest Diseases.” (@DrPaulOffit)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Wall Street Journal: A Booster Shot For Vaccines — “Amid national outbreaks of measles, whooping cough and other preventable diseases, Colorado officials might make it harder for parents to exempt children from vaccinations for school and day care. Colorado is one of 48 states that allow such exemptions for reasons of personal belief or religion—often requiring little more than a parental signature on a form. In the 2012-2013 school year, about 4.3%, or 2,900 children, were excused from required vaccinations, one of the highest percentages of kindergartners in the nation.”

The New Republic: I’ve Got Whooping Cough. Thanks a Lot, Jenny McCarthy. –“There’s a reason that we associate the whooping cough with the Dickensian: It is. The illness has, since the introduction of a pertussis vaccine in 1940, has been conquered in the developed world. For two or three generations, we’ve come to think of it as an ailment suffered in sub-Saharan Africa or in Brontë novels. And for two or three generations, it was.”

The Denver Post: Colorado vaccination policy needs a booster shot — “By law, kids who go to day care or public schools in Colorado are supposed to be vaccinated against serious diseases. But in practice, many of them aren’t. Too many. And that needs to change.”

Vaccine Exemption Rates Around The Country

(via Wall Street Journal / Center for Disease Control and Prevention)

(via Wall Street Journal / Center for Disease Control and Prevention)

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