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A Way Out of the Vaccine Wars

Parents who refuse to vaccinate their kids against diseases like measles put others at risk. But shaming them isn’t the answer
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Parenting in America has long caused passionate debates, but rarely do they turn as vicious as they have since the outbreak of measles at California’s Disneyland. “Here’s hoping the anti-vaxxer movement will naturally deselect hipsters from the human race,” wrote one Twitter user. And another: “If I find out you’re an anti vaxxer I will kidnap your children and give them the shot myself.” One parent vowed that if her baby contracts measles, “I’m ripping an anti-vaxxer limb from limb.” And this, which boils the fear and hatred down to its essence: “Anti-vaxxer parents are the disease that must be wiped out.”

In January alone 102 people in 14 states were diagnosed with measles, a disease declared eliminated from the U.S. in 2000. It can lead to life-threatening pneumonia as well as deafness and swelling of the brain. Most vulnerable are infants, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems who can’t get the vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 92 percent of the January cases can be traced to the outbreak in Southern California, which happens to be where some of the most fervent vaccine refuseniks reside.