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Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Philadelphia Measles

 In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing diseases to spread   Examples include measlesCOVID, flu, and polio.

Philadelphia Inquirer editorial:
From so-called vaccine skeptics like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to anti-vaccine advocates like Robert F. Kennedy Jr., some politicians are hoping to gain political power by exploiting the misguided fears of worried parents and the curdled selfishness of American individualism exemplified by the anti-vaxxer movement.

Although these candidates’ chances of reaching the presidency are slim, the potentially lethal consequences of their way of thinking threaten to erase decades of public health gains and reintroduce long-dormant diseases into populations that are too young to be vaccinated.

Philadelphians were reminded of the dangers of the anti-vaccine movement last week when the city’s Department of Public Health confirmed a measles outbreak. As of Friday, there were six confirmed and three suspected cases, officials said. The cluster began at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and spread to a day-care center where parents had sent their ill child in violation of quarantine guidelines.

Measles is a childhood disease caused by a virus that produces a characteristic red rash. It spreads easily (it is significantly more contagious than COVID-19) and can be fatal. Symptoms include high fever, cough, and runny nose. Serious cases can cause brain inflammation or respiratory failure. Thanks to the MMR vaccine — which provides protection against measles, mumps, and rubella — the disease has been nearly eradicated in the United States.
As of Dec. 7, a total of 41 measles cases were reported across the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The largest number of cases in the last 30 years occurred in 2019, when more than 1,200 were confirmed in 31 states. Most cases were among people who were not vaccinated against measles

Anti-vaxx parents’ fears over vaccinations often stem from a 1998 paper in the Lancet, a British medical journal, that claimed to identify a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. This study — based on only 12 children — was later retracted when it was found to be fraudulent. The British Medical Council ultimately ruled that the study’s author behaved unethically and with “callous disregard” for children.

Many studies since then have shown there is no link between the MMR vaccine and the risk of autism.