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Measles Outbreak Prompts Vaccine Policy Debate

The  growing rash of measles cases and new calls to make vaccination mandatory.

Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, center, accompanied by concerned mothers and their children, answers a question about his proposed legislation that would require parents to vaccinate all school children during a news conference in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday Feb. 4, 2015. (AP)

Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, center, accompanied by concerned mothers and their children, answers a question about his proposed legislation that would require parents to vaccinate all school children during a news conference in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday Feb. 4, 2015. (AP)

In the year 2000, measles was eliminated from the United States.  Gone. This year and last?  It’s back with a vengeance.  An outbreak in Disneyland, and it threatens the country.  Why the return?  The vulnerability?  American vaccination rates.  They are down.  Lower now than in Zimbabwe.  Bangladesh.  Tanzania.  Anti-vaccination Americans have opted out, leaving everyone more exposed.  Now there is pushback.  State legislators saying “enough.”  Proposing mandatory vaccination to get back our “herd immunity.”  This hour On Point:  the push for mandatory vaccination in America.

— Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Liz Szabo, medical reporter for USA Today. (@lizszabo)

Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), California State Senator. Pediatrician. (@drpanmd)

Steven Salzberg, professor of medicine and bio-statistics at Johns Hopkins University. Blogs about pseudo-science and “bad medicine” for Forbes Magazine. (@StevenSalzberg1)

From Tom’s Reading List

USA Today: How can vaccinated people contract measles? — “Although most of those infected with measles this year aren’t fully vaccinated, the disease is so contagious that it could wind up infecting many people who have had all of their recommended shots, health officials say. California health officials have said that 82% of measles patients in that state were not fully vaccinated, suggesting that 18% have had a measles shot.”

Forbes: Anti-Vaccine Movement Causes Worst Measles Epidemic In 20 Years — “For years, scientists (including me) have warned that the anti-vaccination movement was going to cause epidemics of disease. Two years ago I wrote that the anti-vaccine movement had caused the worst whooping cough epidemic in 70 years. And now it’s happening with measles. Finally, though, the public seems to be pushing back. Parents are starting to wake up to the danger that the anti-vax movement represents to their children and themselves.”

Sacramento Bee: California bill would require more vaccinations — “The bill by Democratic Sens. Richard Pan of Sacramento and Ben Allen of Santa Monica is likely to spark intense debate in the state Legislature. Across the state, thousands of parents – largely concentrated in wealthy communities that lean both liberal and conservative – have chosen not to vaccinate their children. They’re able to enroll them in school by filling out a form known as a ‘personal-belief exemption’ that says they are philosophically opposed to immunizations.”

 

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