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Anti-vaccine zealots are responsible for a global public-health crisis

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The kooks should have THIS on their consciences (but probably don’t):

[T]he prevalence of measles in Europe — especially Britain — and the U.S. Measles is endemic in the underdeveloped world because of the unavailability of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine.

But in the developed world it’s an artifact of the anti-vaccination movement, which has associated the vaccine with autism. That connection, promoted by the discredited British physician Andrew Wakefield and the starlet Jenny McCarthy, has been thoroughly debunked. But its effects live on…

Vaccine panic also plays a role in the shocking incidence in the U.S. of whooping cough, also beatable by a common vaccine. Researchers have pointed to the effect of “non-medical exemptions” from legally required whooping cough immunizations — those premised on personal beliefs rather than medical reasons — as a factor in a 2010 outbreak of whooping cough in California.

These manifestations underscore the folly and irresponsibility of giving credence to anti-vaccination  fanatics, as Katie Couric did on her network daytime TV show in December…

The lesson of all this is that vaccination is not an individual choice to be made by a parent for his or her own offspring. It’s a public health issue, because the diseases contracted by unvaccinated children are a threat to the community. That’s what public health is all about, and an overly tolerant approach to non-medical exemptions — and publicity given to anti-vaccination charlatans like Wakefield and McCarthy by heedless promoters like, sadly, Katie Couric, affect us all.

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