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Gary Evans writes Hospital Infection Control & Prevention (HIC), Hospital Employee Health (HEH) and contributes to IRB Advisor (IRB). As senior writer at AHC, Evans has written numerous articles on infectious disease threats to both patients and health care workers, including pandemic influenza, MERS and Ebola. He has been honored for excellence in analytical reporting five times by the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
As a large measles outbreak that began in Disneyland in Anaheim continues to threaten spread to other states, two California state senators are introducing legislation limiting parents’ ‘personal belief’ exemptions to the MMR (measles, mumps rubella) vaccine.
Aimed at increasing the number of preschool and childhood immunizations in the state, California State Senators Richard Pan (D-Sacramento)—a pediatrician—and Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) announced plans to introduce the bill, which Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to support.
"There are not enough people being vaccinated to contain these dangerous diseases," Pan said. "We should not wait for more children to sicken or die before we act."
An anti-vaccine movement has formed claiming the MMR is linked to autism. The premise has been thoroughly debunked by several gold standard studies, but the damage was done in 1998, when the British journal The Lancet infamously published a since-retracted “study” that fueled fears that the MMR vaccine may cause autism in children. The article was retracted by the journal in 2010 after years of controversy and criticism from the medical community. Still, parents in various pockets and communities refuse to have their children immunized, compounding the problem of imported cases from countries where measles is still spread in the community. Though declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, measles is still widespread in many parts of the world, including Europe, Africa, and Asia.
In the latest evidence disputing the dubious claims, a 2014 meta analysis of studies totaling 1.25 million children found there is no evidence whatsoever linking the development of autism to childhood vaccines. “The odds ratio came up null, null, null,” said co-author Guy Eslick, MD, professor at the University of Sydney. “That means there’s no connection. You can’t get better than that.”
1. Taylor LE, Swerdfeger, AL, Eslick et al. Vaccines are not associated with autism: An evidence-based meta-analysis of case-control and cohort studies. Vaccine 2014 32:29;3623–3629