Measles vaccination becomes political

Measles vaccination becomes political

Over the past few days, the controversy on whether or not parents should get their children vaccinated has become a bit more politicized, with both President Barack Obama and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie weighing in on the issue.

The controversy stems from a recent outbreak of measles that has reportedly spread to 102 people in 14 states during the first month of 2015.

“There is every reason to get vaccinated. There aren’t reasons to not get vaccinated,” the president says in Sunday’s interview with Savannah Guthrie of NBC News. ““You should get your children vaccinated.”

President Obama says that, though he understands parents may be concerned about the long-term effects of vaccinations, “The science is, you know, pretty indisputable.”

These remarks were followed on Monday by Gov. Christie, a possible Republican challenger for the presidency in 2016, who said in a statement that he “believes vaccines are an important public health protection and with a disease like measles there is no question kids should be vaccinated.”

A comment earlier in the day caused some controversy when Christie said he understands that “parents need to have some measure of choice in things as well, so that’s the balance that the government has to decide.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a total of 644 measles cases were reported in 2014, the greatest number since the disease was considered eliminated nationally in 2000.

Many believe this recent surge is linked to the choice by some parents to forgo vaccinations due to the belief that they’re linked to serious long-term health issues, including autism.

“There have been very, very good studies that show there is no link of childhood vaccinations to autism,” says Dr. Lisa Yeh, pediatric clinical psychiatrist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “Not getting a vaccination means the possibility of getting exposed to these diseases, like measles, that we had basically eradicated.”

The measles virus is airborne and contagious days before symptoms appear. Symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose and rash and can lead to pneumonia and even swelling of the brain.

Dr. Yeh, who treats children diagnosed with autism, says the idea that vaccinations cause autism is traced to a 1998 study that alleged vaccinations could alter a child’s immune system. That study has since been proven false and widely rejected in the medical community.

“I believe strongly that children who can be vaccinated, should be vaccinated,” she says. “Communities with high rates of non-vaccination, like what’s being seen in California, most likely have a pretty high exposure rate that is putting children at risk unnecessarily.”

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  1. Drug companies pay to test their produce, IE: vaccines. They set the perimeters to study which side effects. If there are any other side effects, they refuse to acknowledge, because these weren’t the side effects they were looking for. These basic side effects are some like “redness at injunction site, swelling, etc. Any serious side effects, like autism, nerve damage, autoimmune diseases are NOT looked for and there is no spot on the paperwork to include them. They don’t want to know that a drug they have spent millions on, and with the potential to make billions, has to be discarded.
    So, don’t sit there and keep parroting the phrase that these vaccines and drugs are clear of any number of horrendous side effects. If the parents want them, OK. But stop with the condemnation of those that educate their-selves to the possibilities, and decide they don’t want them. Do you really want the government to force drugs on us?`!!!!!

  2. What about seniors who never had measles, should they be immunized?

    • Hi, Steve. That’s a great question. I checked with Dr. James Malow, infection control specialist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center to get an answer. He says individuals born before 1957 are considered immune to measles, due to the widespread exposure to disease that occurred before the vaccination became available. Therefore, they don’t require vaccination. He says the testing of seniors for immunity may, on occasion, be recommended if they’re health care workers. I hope that helps!

  3. In response to SNL, I don’t want to be condescending to you, but I would put more credence into what you are saying if your use of the English language, spelling and grammar were correct. I would also encourage you to actually look at the drug and vaccine approval process and how side effects are actually studied by the FDA. You have “parroted” something you heard without adequate investigation into the drug approval process.
    Also, I have real issue with denouncing whole programs like immunizations, because a small group of people has misperceptions, rather than looking at the whole picture of how immunization programs have changed the public health of the world. I am old enough to have seen people with almost all of the diseases for which we currently immunize; these are horrendous diseases that have killed hundreds of thousands before immunizations were available.
    Yes, parents always have a choice; however, if that choice results in one their children becoming infected and ill with one of the vaccine-preventable diseases, how would that parent feel if the result was permanent damage or death of their child, knowing the disease was preventable?
    I could go on and on about vaccines because I am such a believer in them from a public health point of view; but please, obtain information on advantages and disadvantages of vaccines from reputable sources, not just any internet site or group that has an opinion without science to back up the claims.

  4. My, aren’t you condescending. And assuming. I know this because of personally dealing with test drugs, and tests. You can put your faith in anything you want. I don’t care. But, don’t insist that others do. They might have legitimate reasons to not do it. If you’re immunized, don’t worry if someone else isn’t. Because, your not the king of the world. And, clearly, you won’t get the diseases you are so worried about, since you were so wise to get immunized. And, next time, why don’t you try to talk to people without assuming you are so much better then them.

  5. SNL – Jmbe wasn’t condescending at all. Your responses have been nothing but defensive. I think people here want to have an honest and respectful discussion about this.

    The fact of the matter is that by not vaccinating kids, these diseases are coming back and infecting so many that cannot get the vaccine (babies under 1 year old, kids with compromised immune systems, etc.). Those victims should not have to suffer. There is no link between the MMR shot and Autism. Even Autism Speaks has come out today and stated that there is no link and that all kids should get vaccinated (

    This country needs to take some serious action and make it mandatory for all kids to get vaccinated. We need to protect our children and not have them suffer for no reason.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.