Many California Measles Victims Had Deliberately Not Been Vaccinated, So Great Job, Anti-Vaxxers

Officials in California are fighting a measles outbreak, which is plaguing 32 people, many of whom are young children. And of the 32 people now suffering from measles, officials have told several Californian radio stations, 19 of them were unvaccinated — 14 of them deliberately so. The disease was once thought to have been virtually eradicated from the States.

The measles vaccine, according to the California Department of Public Health, provides the recipient with a 99 percent chance of immunity to the disease, which is potentially fatal in small children.

The anti-vaccine movement has a particular home in California, since it's also home to the entertainment industry. Anti-vaccine celebrities like Kristin Cavallari and Jenny McCarthy have played an big role in convincing parents that there are serious health detriments to giving your child all the shots advised by public health officials.

Former Playboy model and current co-host of The View Jenny McCarthy is probably the prime example. After her son was diagnosed with autism in 2005, she's engaged in a high-profile advocacy effort to convince the world vaccination was to blame. Unfortunately, her advocacy work has drawn a lot of eyeballs, and famous supporters.

In the last several years, a cadre of celebrities have rolled out of the woodwork questioning the science on vaccination, including Bill Maher, Rob Schneider, and most recently Kristen Cavallari, who announced last week that her children wouldn't be getting their shots.

his is, simply put, deeply dangerous and infuriating. Given there's zero evidence of a link between vaccination and autism, and that there are far more interesting, proactive avenues of modern research into its causes — and that the potential health risks of refusing vaccination can be so staggeringly high — this public health phenomenon is completely unnecessary. And sadly, it's placed the weight of some adults' misguided political activism squarely on the lungs of their children.

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Whether hemming and hawing about the decline of American trust in vaccination is even going to help, moreover, is deeply unclear. A recent study of pro-vaccination messaging conducted by researchers at Dartmouth College found that none of the four messages they tested made people any more receptive to vaccination. Quite the contrary — the attempt to encourage them to vaccinate their children backfired, and actually eroded overall support.

Where this calamitous dilemma goes from here is hard, precisely, to say. The deluge of Twitter criticism Jenny McCarthy recently drew over her anti-vaccination fear-mongering is encouraging, perhaps, but unless a popular denunciation of she and her cadre takes hold in the mainstream media, where she now makes her living, it's doubtful to me that hashtags and the like will make much difference.

And all the meanwhile, the youth of California run the risk of being tragically failed by their own parents.