As measles outbreaks pop up around the country, a Republican lawmaker in Texas is pushing legislation that will give greater freedom to parents to deny their children childhood vaccines.
Comments from Rep. Bill Zedler as reported by the Texas Observer give a disturbing window into his frame of mind behind the bill, and it reveals a gross misunderstanding of vaccine science.
“They want to say people are dying of measles. Yeah, in Third World countries they’re dying of measles,” Zedler said. “Today, with antibiotics and that kind of stuff, they’re not dying in America.”
Zedler is flat out wrong. In modern medicine, there is no treatment for the measles. The only way to prevent it is to get the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine beforehand.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are currently six measles outbreaks taking place across the U.S.
From the Observer:
Texas has had eight confirmed cases of measles so far this year, and in 2017, mumps cases reached a 20-year high. Yet now Zedler and other anti-vaccine lawmakers want to make it even easier to opt out of childhood vaccinations, and they’re trying to keep the public from accessing information about exemption rates.
Before the MMR vaccine was made widely available in 1971, around 500 people died each year from measles. But thanks to the growing movement of anti-vaxxers in the U.S., the threat is becoming very real again. The anti-vaxxer movement was sparked by a fraudulent study that linked the MMR vaccine to autism.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), people who reject the science and efficacy of vaccines are among the top 10 health threats facing the world in the coming year.
The report comes in the wake of a study published by the science journal PLOS ONE that shows anti-vaccine sentiment is growing in the United States.
“Since 2009, the number of ‘philosophical-belief’ vaccine non-medical exemptions has risen in 12 of the 18 states that currently allow this policy: Arkansas, Arizona, Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Utah,” the authors of the study wrote.
Globally, measles is a leading cause of death for children, killing an average of 246 children under age 5 every day. The disease can also lead to severe complications such as swelling of the brain or blindness.
Featured image via screen grab/Weatherford College