NIH doctor: States should do more on vaccinations

NIH doctor: States should do more on vaccinations
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One of the Obama administration’s top doctors on Wednesday said that state governments should be doing more to boost vaccination rates to halt the spread of highly contagious diseases like the measles.

“I'm totally in agreement that we should be putting pressure on people,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said during a health forum hosted by The Atlantic. “It's just got to be at the state level.”

Fauci, who directs the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, pointed to effective state laws such as requiring vaccination for children entering public school. But he said it shouldn’t be in the federal government’s power to make that policy nationwide.

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“You can't force someone to do anything. That's not the role of the federal government,” he added.

In the wake of one of largest measles outbreaks in recent years, federal health officials are stressed the importance of vaccines but stopped short of calling for new policies.

Nearly 200 people, mostly children, have been diagnosed with the measles in 2015 alone. Many stemmed from an outbreak at Disneyland in California, where researchers estimate that as few as 50 percent of people exposed had not been vaccinated.

Fauci, who has been vocal about the need for vaccines, said the biggest factor in the growing “anti-vaxx” movement is likely a lack of understanding. But he believes that many of those parents can be convinced that they have a responsibility to society, pointing to the millions of babies who cannot be vaccinated before turning one year old.

“I think if you put that argument to parents: you really don't want to protect all those babies? Of course you do. I think when you explain it that way, a lot of people will turn over.”