• Public healthGerman law would require measles vaccination to attend schools, kindergartens, daycare

    German children will have to prove they have had a measles vaccination before they would be allowed to attend kindergarten or go to school. A new draft law imposes steep fines on parents who refuse to immunize their children.

  • Perspective: Preventable DiseaseWhat the Measles Epidemic Really Says about America

    The critic Susan Sontag observed that disease can serve as a metaphor—a reflection of the society through which it travels. Now, a virus is offering insights into the country’s psychic and civic condition. Two decades ago, measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. Yet in the first five months of this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded 1,000 cases—more than occurred from 2000 to 2010. Three cultural conditions have contributed to the resurgence of measles in the United States. One is historical forgetting: contemporary America suffers from a dangerous lack of historical memory. The second is diminished trust in government. As distrust of government has grown, so too has distrust of vaccines. The third is a population that suffers from overconfidence in its own amateur knowledge. This third condition is especially dangerous: It’s one thing to Google a food to see whether it’s healthy. It’s quite another to dismiss decades of studies on the benefits of vaccines because you’ve watched a couple of YouTube videos.

  • Preventable diseasesCuring vaccine hesitation by meeting someone with vaccine-preventable disease

    Since 1 January, a staggering 1,109 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in twenty-four states — the greatest number of cases since 1994. Measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000. The outbreaks have been attributed to an increasing number of Americans who choose not to vaccinate themselves or their children. Exposing vaccine hesitant to real-life pain of diseases makes them more pro-vaccine.

  • Preventable diseasesU.S. measles cases reach 1,109 as studies point to early vaccination

    On Monday the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recorded 14 more measles cases, raising the year’s total number of cases to 1,109, as two studies conducted in other nations highlight some advantages of early vaccination of babies.

  • Preventable diseasesCalifornia Laws Lead to Higher Kindergarten Vaccine Rates

    From 2014 to 2016, California authorities took three separate actions meant to increase childhood vaccination rates, and a new study suggests these interventions were successful. “The best way to remedy the current system failure regarding measles vaccination may be to adopt a unified national approach to prohibit nonmedical exemptions, and thereby regain the degree of nationwide protection against vaccine-preventable disease from which children and other community members will benefit,” says one expert.

  • Truth decayGlobal Public Health Scientists Launch New Challenge to Anti-Vaxxers

    Vaccines have prevented hundreds of millions of infectious diseases, including polio, measles, hepatitis B and meningitis, saving up to 3 million lives yearly. These facts have not prevented ill-informed anti-vaxxers from conducting a conspiracy-fueled campaign of misinformation and about the safety of vaccines. An international group of leading public health scientists say that search engines and social media organizations must do more to prevent the spread of inaccurate information on childhood vaccination, and governments must better support mandatory immunization programs.

  • PerspectiveRe-thinking Biological Arms Control for the 21st Century

    International treaties prohibit the development and use of biological weapons. Yet concerns about these weapons have endured and are now escalating. Filippa Lentzos writes in a paper issued by the U.S. Marine Corps that a major source of the growing concern about future bioweapons threats stem from scientific and technical advances. Innovations in biotechnology are expanding the toolbox to modify genes and organisms at a staggering pace, making it easier to produce increasingly dangerous pathogens. Disease-causing organisms can now be modified to increase their virulence, expand their host range, increase their transmissibility, or enhance their resistance to therapeutic interventions. Scientific advances are also making it theoretically possible to create entirely novel biological weapons, by synthetically creating known or extinct pathogens or entirely new pathogens. Scientists could potentially enlarge the target of bioweapons from the immune system to the nervous system, genome, or microbiome, or they could weaponize ‘gene drives’ that would rapidly and cheaply spread harmful genes through animal and plant populations.

  • PerspectiveTeens of “anti-vaxxers” can get their own vaccines, some states say

    A young man who had just turned 18 showed up at the Virginia office of Drs. Sterling and Karen Ransone earlier this month and asked for the vaccines for meningitis and human papillomavirus. It was his first opportunity to be vaccinated. As a minor, he needed permission from his parents, and they wouldn’t grant it because they didn’t think the vaccines were medically necessary. Now, as a legal adult, he could get the shots on his own. This year there have been at least 1,044 measles cases in 28 states — the largest outbreak since 1992. Michael Ollove writes in Stateline that public health officials blame parents who have refused to have their kids vaccinated. One way to boost immunization rates is to narrow school vaccination exemptions, which four states have done this year. Another is to take the decision out of parents’ hands and let their kids choose for themselves. A handful of states already have given teens some vaccination rights.

  • Preventable diseasesShould measles vaccination be made compulsory?

    As measles cases in Europe hit their highest levels this decade, should the U.K. adopt compulsory vaccination? Ethicists have argued that compulsory vaccination is acceptable because people who don’t vaccinate their children are potentially putting other people’s health at risk, particularly those who can’t be vaccinated and are therefore more vulnerable.

  • PerspectiveNo exceptions: New York, Washington, Maine abolish religious exemptions for measles vaccine, California looks to limit medical exemptions

    The measles outbreaks that have spread through different parts of the country this year are causing lawmakers and advocates in several states to rethink their policies about vaccinations, despite ongoing skepticism and sometimes-fierce political pushback from anti-vaxxers. Laura Fay writes in t74 that New York, Maine and Washington state have all taken steps to restrict vaccine exemptions based on religious beliefs this year, and California is considering a measure to tighten up its existing policy governing medical exemptions.

  • Preventable diseasesNY State: Religious grounds no longer allowed to exempt children from vaccination

    New York is the latest state where parents can no longer refuse to vaccinate children on religious grounds. Both houses of the New York State Assembly passed the measure Thursday and Governor Andrew Cuomo signed it immediately.

  • Preventable diseasesTexas vaccine exemption rates have reached an all-time high. Did Texas make it too easy for parents to opt out?

    By Elizabeth Byrne and Shiying Cheng

    Texas has resisted recent attempts to change its vaccine laws, allowing parents to get their children exemptions for “reasons of conscience.” Use our lookup tool to see how exemption rates have changed in school districts and private schools across the state.

  • Preventable diseasesExperts urge vaccination as U.S. measles cases top 1,000

    Federal officials yesterday said U.S. measles cases have reached 1,001, the first time since 1992 that cases have been in quadruple figures, while experts continued to urge vaccination and underscored the safety of the vaccine.

  • MeaslesCurrent vaccination policies not enough to prevent measles resurgence

    Current vaccination policies may not be sufficient to achieve and maintain measles elimination and prevent future resurgence in several advanced countries. “Our results suggest that most of the countries we have studied would strongly benefit from the introduction of compulsory vaccination at school entry in addition to current immunization programs,” says the author of a new study.

  • MeaslesPredicting top 25 U.S. counties at risk for measles outbreaks

    A team of researchers has identified 25 U.S. counties that are most likely to experience measles outbreaks in 2019. As of late May, the U.S. has seen more than 800 [cases of measles this year, the highest number in decades. Although measles was officially eliminated from the U.S. in 2000, the ongoing outbreak shows that the nation remains at risk.