The Best Defense is a Good Offense: Why Public Health Officials Need to Get Tough on Vaccination

BY RICHARD M. CARPIANO and JASON CHUNG (12)

Measles are preventable with vaccines so why are vaccination rates going down?/Dave Haygarth via Flickr

It’s a scary time for many parents and their children in Washington, Oregon, and New York, which are currently experiencing measles outbreaks. The vaunted herd immunity that has kept Americans safe for the past few decades is being eroded—via lower child vaccination coverage in communities throughout the US due to an increase in vaccination exemptions.

For years, fingers have been pointed at discredited doctor Andrew Wakefield for starting the spread of the now-debunked link between autism and the measles vaccine. Likewise, social media misinformation campaigns from so-called mommy blogs and anti-vaccination (often termed “anti-vaxxer”) activist groups have been effective in propagandizing pseudo-science ignorance among parents and politicians alike through websites, online ads, phony-expert panel talks, celebrity allies, online and in-person “word-of-mouth,” and aggressive political lobbying.