Measles outbreak reopens vaccination fight

Measles outbreak reopens vaccination fight
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An outbreak of measles that started in California’s Disneyland has quickly led to a nationwide debate over child vaccinations.

More than 100 cases of measles have been reported, including 91 in California, according to a report by Reuters. The California Department of Public Health has traced at least 58 of the contagious disease cases to the Disneyland outbreak.

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While no deaths have been reported, attention to the health scare has been steadily building and reached the White House on Friday, where spokesman Josh Earnest defended vaccinations as sound science.

“The science on this is really clear,” Earnest said, arguing that people should listen to health officials who have been encouraging vaccinations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier in the week directly implicated the anti-vaccine movement for the measles outbreak.

“This is not a problem of the measles vaccine not working. This is a problem of the measles vaccine not being used,” Anne Schuchat, the head of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a briefing with reporters Thursday.

While the vast majority of people comply with states' mandatory vaccination laws, there are exemptions for those opposed for personal reasons.

About 79 percent of people infected with measles in 2014 said they had chosen not to vaccinate themselves due to their “personal beliefs,” Schuchat said.

“It is frustrating that some people have opted out of vaccination,” she added.

Those who choose not to vaccinate their children cite religious or other reasons.

The New York Times on Saturday reported that the anti-vaccine movement largely can be traced back to a medical journal report that suggested vaccines could lead to autism. The report was later retracted, but a number of people continue to argue there is a link. 

The Times also pointed to a "particular subculture of largely wealthy and well-educated families, many living in palmy enclaves around Los Angeles and San Francisco, who are trying to carve out 'all-natural' lives for their children."