By the LA Times Editorial Board
Public health officials in New York and New Jersey are fighting a measles outbreak that has sickened dozens of people since November, most of them unvaccinated members of orthodox Jewish communities. The virus was traced to travelers from Israel, which is dealing with its own measles outbreak at the moment
So far, the outbreak has been relatively small because, despite gaps in what’s known as community immunity, the overall national vaccination remains high enough to prevent wide-scale epidemics such as the one that raged through parts of Europe this year. But Americans should be alarmed, nevertheless. The next measles outbreak — and there will be one — could be much worse.
That’s because immunization rates among U.S. school-aged children are — incredibly — declining in certain states, thanks to unreasonably permissive immunization rules. All but three U.S. states allow parents to opt out of vaccination requirements on religious grounds, and 18 of them allow exemptions based on what they call personal belief, which is an even less strict standard. That’s become a problem in recent years as the gospel of ignorance being pushed by the “anti-vax” movement has gained traction across the country. Many vaccination opponents believe the medicine in vaccinations for measles, mumps, rubella and other real diseases causes autism and various “vaccination injuries.” They have no science to back this up, only misinformed anecdotes that serve to scare gullible parents.
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