In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing disease to spread.
A public health emergency has been declared in Clark County, Washington, as a result of an ongoing measles outbreak. According to the latest update from the county's Department of Health, 23 cases of measles have been confirmed and health officials are investigating two more suspected cases.
The majority of cases are in children aged 1 to 10. Four cases are in children and teens aged 11 to 18, and one person aged 19 to 29 has been infected.
Eighteen states in the U.S. currently permit non-medical exemptions from childhood vaccinations due to philosophical beliefs. An analysis published last June in the journal PLOS Medicine found an increase in the number of children enrolling in kindergarten with a non-medical exemption in 12 of these states.
The study also identified 15 metropolitan clusters or "hotspots" of higher rates of vaccination exemptions. The Portland, Oregon, area, just across the Columbia River from Clark County, is one of those hotspots.
"As larger unvaccinated populations grow, particularly in highly mobile cities, the potential for vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks grows," study authors Peter Hotez and Melissa Nolan said in a joint statement. "Measles outbreaks are of particular concern because measles is so highly transmissible and is associated with high morbidities, leading to hospitalization and sometimes permanent neurological injury or even death."Isaac Stanley-Becker at WP:
State data shows that 7.9 percent of children in Clark County were exempt in the 2017-2018 school year from vaccines required for kindergarten entry, which includes the two-dose course for measles that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says is 97 percent effective. Only 1.2 percent of the children had a medical dispensation, meaning that nearly 7 percent were not immunized for personal or religious reasons. Nationally, about 2 percent of children went without required immunizations for nonmedical reasons.
“Portland is a total train wreck when it comes to vaccine rates,” Hotez said in an interview with The Post.
Opposition to compulsory vaccination in the Pacific Northwest dates to the Progressive Era and continuesdespite major medical breakthroughs. The modern anti-vaccination movement — built on debunked research published in 1998 that associated the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella, known as the MMR vaccine, with autism — is not exclusive to one side of the political divide, survey data suggests; it tends to find its most fervent supporters at both extremes.