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Measles Resurgence

- September 13, 2019
Can experts reduce skepticism about vaccines?
Featured Report

The number of measles cases in the United States has reached a 27-year high — a startling development for a disease that the World Health Organization declared eradicated in the country in 2000 as a result of widespread vaccine use. And the problem is global: 110,000 deaths from measles were reported worldwide in 2017, the most recent year for which global estimates are available, up from fewer than 90,000 in 2016. In the United States, experts attribute the measles resurgence to reduced vaccination rates for children whose parents believe — against all scientific evidence — that the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) is unsafe or that the disease poses no significant health risk. Most of the U.S. cases occurred in insular, underimmunized communities and have been linked to travelers bringing measles back from countries with large measles outbreaks. In some states, policymakers are eliminating or narrowing exemptions for mandatory vaccinations of children attending public schools, and health officials are pushing back against skepticism about the safety and necessity of vaccines.

900s–1920sEarly efforts to immunize against disease are developed.
1940s–1960sScientists develop additional vaccines.
1960s–2000As more vaccines are developed, questions are raised about the safety of immunization.
2000–PresentDespite advances in vaccines, immunization rates fall and measles makes a comeback in some areas as new controversies and fears arise about vaccine safety, largely spread via the internet.

Should nonmedical vaccine exemptions be eliminated?


Sandra Fryhofer, M.D.
Board Member, American Medical Association; Liaison to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.


Michael Sussman
Civil Rights Lawyer for Vaccine Opponents.


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