They rely on scare tactics and conspiracy theories and they're making dangerous inroads, often from anecdotal accounts spread through social media. Now we're figuring out the cost in lives for their success.
Measles cases around the world surged 31% from 2016 to 2017, according to a new report jointly published by the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Measles outbreaks occurred in all regions, WHO said, because of gaps in vaccine coverage. There were an estimated 110,000 deaths due to measles in 2017.
"Since 2016, measles incidence has increased globally and in five of the six WHO regions," the report says, although this was in part because more countries reported on the virus.
The Western Pacific Region, which includes countries such as Australia and Japan, was the only region to report a decrease in cases from 2016 to 2017. It's also the only region to achieve and sustain 95% or greater coverage of the first dose of the measles vaccine since 2006.This is one contagion we can't blame on knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing, right wingers. It's largely the work of our own kind, the anti-science type identified years ago by Carl Sagan.
Measles, a viral illness, can be prevented through two doses of a vaccine, and measles vaccination prevented an estimated 21.1 million deaths from 2000 to 2017, according to the report.
It's a conundrum. Do the anti-vaxxers have the right to reject vaccination for their children? If so, should they have the right to keep those kids out of our schools and public facilities and perhaps set up their own schools for their pre-teen carriers?