Measles Outbreak Continues to Spread

ContagionFebruary 2015
Volume 2
Issue 1

Reports of measles cases in a suburban Illinois infant care center have added to concerns the preventable but highly contagious illness is spreading.

Five cases of measles reported earlier in February in a suburban Illinois infant care center have added to concerns the preventable but highly contagious illness is spreading. The children, all under 12 months old, were too young to be vaccinated, but they appear to have contracted the illness from an unvaccinated adult.

The cases were reported by Illinois state health officials, based on laboratory confirmation. The facility, the KinderCare Learning Center, is in Palatine, a Chicago suburb.

Measles made the news earlier this year due to an outbreak in California, where 100 cases have been confirmed—all believed to have started at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA. That state is now debating whether to tighten a law that permits vaccination exemptions based solely on “personal belief” that the vaccine carries more risk than contracting the illness.

There are 46 states that permit religious exemptions and 19 that specifically allow "philosophical" or "personal belief" objections.

New York State is weighing a bill to allow parents to opt out of vaccinations under philosophical objections, Capital New York reported. The bill is sponsored by a legislator who believes that his son's autism was caused by vaccination--though scientists have never proven there is such a link.

Taking the opposite position California legislators are weighing a measure that would become more difficult for parents to claim a personal belief exemption from having their children vaccinated—though religious beliefs would still be allowed. The law wouldn’t directly force children to be vaccinated but would allow schools to bar such children from attending.

In California, of 13,500 personal exemptions granted in 2014, only 2,700 were for religious reasons according to the Los Angeles Times.

Followers of Christian Science, and the Amish and Mennonite communities forbid vaccination—but in some states mail-order certificates of membership in church-like organizations are available for a fee.

In a New York Times article in 2003 described how easy it was to obtain such a document spelling out “religious” beliefs that forbade vaccination. It was issued by a New Jersey chiropractor who asked for a contribution of $1 to $75 for the certificate.

The article also noted that in 1979 there were outbreaks of polio in Amish and Mennonite communities and that in a Christian Science school in Connecticut, measles killed 3 students of 125 who came down with the illness.

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