“'The difference now is the speed with which it spreads, and the denigration of the institutions that we rely on to understand the truth. I think we're in dangerous territory.'”
Don't miss the New York Times investigation detailing Russia's decade-long health disinformation campaign against the United States and other Western democracies, using social media and news outlets to sow confusion and hurt institutions. Read the rest
Thanks for the measles outbreaks, Facebook. Read the rest
An increase of 41 measles cases were reported in the United States from the previous week. Read the rest
As ongoing and growing measles outbreaks flare up around America some New York City anti-vaxxers are suing to block last-minute emergency measures city leaders are taking to slow the spread of infectious disease.
The anti-vaxxers are relying on the repetition of known bad science to carry the day.
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Five unnamed mothers in New York City filed a lawsuit Monday, April 15, seeking to block the city's mandatory vaccination order in areas hit by a massive measles outbreak that has raged since last October.
City health officials announced the order earlier this month as they declared a public health emergency over the outbreak, which has sickened 329 people so far—mostly children. According to the city's order, all unvaccinated people in affected ZIP codes must receive the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine, prove immunity, or have a valid medical exemption. Violators could face a fine of $1,000.
In the lawsuit, the mothers claim that the outbreak does not constitute a dangerous epidemic (though the virus can cause severe complications and even death) and that the city's orders are "arbitrary and capricious." Moreover, they allege that the MMR vaccine has significant safety concerns (this is false; side effects beyond mild, temporary discomfort are exceedingly rare) and that the order violates their religious freedom.
The lawsuit is just the latest example of anti-vaccine parents challenging the legality of public health officials' efforts to curb measles cases—which are mounting at an unprecedented rate across the United States. As the mothers filed their lawsuit Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated this year's nationwide measles count, reporting a whopping 555 cases confirmed from 20 states.
An 18-year-old high school senior is suing the Northern Kentucky Health Department for banning him from school and sports during a chicken pox outbreak. He refuses to get vaccinated because of his "Christian faith," so the Health Department refuses to let him attend school or play sports.
"The fact that I can't finish my senior year in basketball, like, our last couple of games, it's pretty devastating. I mean, you go through four years of high school playing basketball, you look forward to your senior year," the student, Jerome Kunkel, told WLWT5.
According to NBC:
The health department announced the policy Feb. 21 in a letter to parents, citing an outbreak of chickenpox at the school.
It first warned parents of the outbreak Feb. 5, urging them to get their children vaccinated. By March 14, the school had 32 cases of confirmed chickenpox, according to the health department.
"The recent actions taken by the Northern Kentucky Health Department regarding the chickenpox outbreak at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart/Assumption Academy was in direct response to a public health threat and was an appropriate and necessary response to prevent further spread of this contagious illness," the health department said in a statement in response to Kunkel's lawsuit.
Chicken pox is an airborne virus that can also be contracted through physical contact. Although most people get through the illness without any lasting effects, it can be devastating to pregnant women, babies, and people with weakened immune systems.
Image: by F malan - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Read the rest
A teen's Reddit post went viral when he asked the public how he could get vaccinated. "My parents are kind of stupid and don't believe in vaccines. Now that I'm 18, where do I go to get vaccinated? Can I get vaccinated at my age?"
The Ohio high school student, Ethan Lindenberger, says he had just gotten his driver's license and a car, and had some money, and was ready to defy his parents. "It's stupid and I've had countless arguments over the topic. But, because of their beliefs I've never been vaccinated for anything, god knows how I'm still alive."
A month after his post, he started getting shots, including "hepatitis A, hepatitis B, influenza and HPV," according to The Huffington Post. His mother reacted by telling undark.org that his actions were like a "slap in the face...It was like him spitting on me.”
Lindenberger has six siblings, and only his oldest sister and brother were vaccinated. After that, his parents thought that "vaccines are some kind of government scheme," according to Ethan, who spoke out on Good Morning America today.
"I've never been vaccinated for anything, God knows how I'm still alive." An Ohio 18-year-old went against his anti-vaxx mother's beliefs and fought to get vaccinated when he turned 18. @LinseyDavis reports. https://t.co/7uPNW231Zv pic.twitter.com/P8IFBev1rv
— Good Morning America (@GMA) February 12, 2019
Seven states now allow minors to petition so that they can make their own decision when it comes to vaccinations. But in the states where kids don't have a choice, some teens are coming to Ethan for advice. Read the rest
After an outbreak of measles at Disneyland, California lawmakers had enough and passed SB277, banning kids from attending the state's schools unless they were fully vaccinated, and eliminating the waiver that let parents put their kids and others' in danger by signing a form stating that "immunization is contrary to my beliefs." Read the rest
43% of Canadians believe "science is a matter of opinion," 47% think the science of global warming is "unclear"; 24% of Canadian millennials are anti-vaxxers, all according to a Leger survey of 1,514 Canadians. Read the rest
A Somali-American community has been struck with an outbreak of the measles in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. Dr. Mahab Ururshe struggles to convince recent emigres that austism is not a result of the vaccine.
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Dr. Mahab Ururshe, a pediatrician at Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, is originally from Somalia and says he still sees many parents afraid of vaccines, even though numerous studies have shown no link between autism and vaccines.
The parents say, "I know measles, I have had it and my mom had it -- better to have measles than autism," Ururshe told ABC News.
In order to convince some parents that vaccines are safe, Ururshe has spent long periods of time explaining that studies have found no link between vaccines and autism. He also has to point out that the disease can be deadly and that, in Somalia, there was no accurate data compiled about measles complications.
Severe complications from measles include pneumonia and inflammation of the brain and a condition called subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) that is fatal and more common in infants, according to the Infectious Diseases Society of America.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates one to two of every 1,000 infected children dies from the disease.
Ururshe also tells parents that despite dramatically lowered rates of vaccination in the Somali community in recent years, rates of autism have continued to rise. While parents often believe him, Ururshe said some remain too frightened to act.
A new report says anti-vaxxers are responsible for the rise in two infectious diseases we'd nearly eliminated from the United States. Read the rest
Stefan Lanka, a "vaccination skeptic" who claims that measles are a psychosomatic condition brought on by "traumatic separations," publicly challenged people to prove that measles was caused by a virus. Read the rest