When does ‘right to choose’ on vaccinations hurt others?

February 22, 2015 1:04 AM

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I asked a top infectious disease expert at the National Institutes of Health the other day for his take on why some parents are choosing not to get vaccinations for their kids. His answer was simple enough: Those parents have no memory of why such vaccinations became a public health standard in the first place. They lack any first-hand knowledge of the serious, sometimes fatal, nature of the diseases in question.

The current measles outbreak in the United States is a ready example. Declared eliminated by public health authorities 15 years ago, measles has come roaring back with about 650 cases last year and more than 100 cases already in 2015 – the largest outbreak in 20 years.

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