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The New Measles Outbreak, Blame the Anti-Vaxxers


Time (Opinion)
By Jeffrey Kluger

A disturbing report from the Centers for Disease Control shows what happens when anti-vaccine nonsense wins.

You have to be spoiled to play cute with disease—spoiled or, well, stupid. And today’s announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that measles cases in the U.S. have hit record highs in the first five months of this year is a maddening example of both. I learned of the report in an especially striking way.

I returned this morning from a conference in Singapore where some of the most stimulating discussions were about global health — specifically, how to extend the preventive measures and treatments so easily available in the developed world to the harder-to-reach parts of the developing one. There were conversations about how wireless technology can be used to communicate between rural villages and urban hospitals, how new medicines can be fast-tracked from development to distribution and how cold chains can be created to keep vaccines viable as they make their way to the people who need them.

On my return to the U.S., I passed through the arrivals terminal at JFK Airport, where Rotary International is running a billboard campaign showing globally recognized figures—Bill Gates, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Jackie Chan—posing with the legend “We Are This Close to Ending Polio.” To reinforce that point, each celebrity’s thumb and index finger frames the “this close” in a measuring gesture.

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