By Lena H. Sun
20 February 2017

AUSTIN (The Washington Post) – The group of 40 people gathered at a popular burger and fish taco restaurant in San Antonio listened eagerly to the latest news about the anti-vaccine fight taking place in the Texas legislature.

Some mothers in the group had stopped immunizing their young children because of doubts about vaccine safety. Heads nodded as the woman giving the statehouse update warned that vaccine advocates wanted to “chip away” at parents’ right to choose. But she also had encouraging news.

“We have 30 champions in that statehouse,” boasted Jackie Schlegel, executive director of Texans for Vaccine Choice. “Last session, we had two.”

Now they also have one in the White House.

President Trump’s embrace of discredited theories linking vaccines to autism has energized the anti-vaccine movement. Once fringe, the movement is becoming more popular, raising doubts about basic childhood health care among politically and geographically diverse groups.

Public health experts warn that this growing movement is threatening one of the most successful medical innovations of modern times. Globally, vaccines prevent the deaths of about 2.5 million children every year, but deadly diseases such as measles and whooping cough still circulate in populations where enough people are unvaccinated.[…]

Personal-belief immunization exemptions increased from 2,314 in the 2003-2004 school year to 44,716 in 2015-2016. Graphic: Washington Post

The modern anti-vaccine movement is based on a fraud. A study published almost 20 years ago purported to show a link between childhood vaccines and autism. The data was later found to be falsified, and the study was retracted.

Scores of large-scale, long-term studies from around the world since then have proved that there is no connection between vaccines and autism. But the suspicion lingers. Its strongest form is a stubborn conspiracy theory that doctors, scientists, federal health agencies, vaccine-makers and the worldwide public health community are hiding the truth and are knowingly harming children. [more]

Trump energizes the anti-vaccine movement in Texas

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