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WSJ: The Measles Outbreak Coming Near You

December 4, 2014
We’ve written before about the disturbing rise in the prevalence of diseases that, thanks to vaccines, had once been considered eradicated or near-eradicated in the US. In today’s Wall Street Journal, Dr. Haider Javed Warraich, a physician at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and an instructor at Harvard Medical School, discusses the problem in depth:
Measles is making a terrifying comeback in the U.S., with some 600 cases reported this year, more than in any year in the past two decades. There are two reasons: the ease of international travel, and an increasing number of people refusing vaccinations, usually on behalf of their children.

These refusals have directly resulted in an increase in the incidence of almost forgotten diseases like whooping cough and measles. After the introduction of the whooping cough vaccine in the 1940s, cases dwindled to about 1,000 cases annually. Yet the CDC reported nearly 77,000 cases of whooping cough in 2012 and 2013.

These exemptions raise serious ethical concerns. Human beings, at the start and end of their lives, are often unable to make informed decisions. While the elderly designate others as proxies, children rely on their parents. But when parents don’t allow their children to get vaccinated, they are willfully putting their child at risk of catching easily preventable—and sometimes deadly—diseases.

Read the full piece here.