To understand why some parents have chosen not to protect their kids from measles, consider why parents shun another well-tested vaccine, which would protect children from a number of devastating forms of cancer. While more than 700 people have been infected by this latest measles outbreak, thousands of young people are unnecessarily being infected with cancer-associated strains of HPV, or human papillomavirus. These will slowly, quietly, cause cancer in some of them years later.
“The anti-vaxxers really hate the HPV vaccine,” said Stewart Lyman, a cancer researcher who wrote a provocative opinion piece in the medical website STAT, connecting opposition against vaccines to an often-deserved public distrust of the pharmaceutical industry. He included a long list of breaches of trust — from high drug prices to bungled clinical trails to lies about the alleged safety of opioids.