Vaccine-fearing parents responsible for measles outbreaks

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Parents philosophically opposed to the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine are responsible for hundreds of sickened children in the last few years, government data show.

Measles has essentially been eradicated in the United States since 2000 thanks to the MMR vaccine — but sporadic infections still do occur, due to importation from foreign countries. There was an average 56 cases annually from 2001-’08, according to Reuters Health, which cites a new report by CDC researchers in The Journal of Infectious Diseases. And in 2004-’08, 68 percent of the patients who developed measles were not vaccinated “because of personal belief exemptions.” Twenty states continue to have such exemptions.

“Parents who elect not to have their children vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella are putting their children’s lives in jeopardy,” says ACSH’s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan. “We call for an abolition of personal belief exemption, also called the philosophical exemption. From a public health perspective it makes no sense to allow parents to abdicate their responsibility to protect their own children, and it’s even worse to allow them to expose other children around them. No government should be complicit in some parents’ superstitious fear of vaccines and put children at risk.”