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Measles Outbreaks Turning Tide Against Anti-Vaxxers
July 31st, 2019
By Gary Evans, Medical Writer
The tide of public opinion is turning against the anti-vaccine movement as a record number of measles cases have spread to 30 states this year, a leading vaccine expert said recently in Philadelphia at the annual meeting of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.
As of July 25, there have been 1,164 cases of measles in the United States in 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. That is the most cases since 1992, and makes a distant memory of the announcement in the year 2000 that measles had been eradicated in the U.S, an accomplishment that was primarily due to childhood vaccinations. Measles resurgence coincides with parents citing unsafe vaccines in declining to have their children immunized.
“Frankly, it is hard to make a case that vaccines are evil in the midst of epidemics,” said Paul A. Offit, MD, director of the Vaccine Education Center and an infectious disease physician at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. “These outbreaks—as awful as they are, as children have once again suffered a disease that is completely preventable—we are reaping some good from this. Society is finally standing up for itself.”
In addition to several states acting to remove nonmedical exemptions to childhood vaccines, there have been a series of studies that have thoroughly debunked the claim that the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine causes autism. One of the most recent was published this year, with researchers who looked at some 650,000 children in Denmark concluding that there is no link between MMR vaccination and autism.1
“When you isolate the effect of that one variable—receipt of the MMR vaccine—there was no greater risk of developing autism if you got the vaccine or if you did not,” Offit said. “There are 18 studies now that have looked at that hypothesis. I would argue that this is one of the most tested hypotheses in the history of medicine. MMR vaccine does not cause autism.”
1. Hviid A, Hansen JV, Frisch M, et al. Measles, Mumps, Rubella Vaccination and Autism: A Nationwide Cohort Study. Ann Intern Med 2019;170(8):513-520.
For more on this story see the September 2019 issue of Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.