Vaccine rejections based on religious exemptions are rising sharply in Massachusetts
An outbreak of measles, which is causing a full-blown public health emergency in the Pacific Northwest, is a wake-up call to states like Massachusetts that have seen a worrying rise in vaccine rejection. The Commonwealth’s numbers are headed in the wrong direction, and it shouldn’t take a crisis here to tighten the rules that have allowed too many parents in Massachusetts to skip shots for their kids and thereby endanger the entire community.
Washington State has reported 50 confirmed cases, and roughly 30 more have been recorded in nine other states since the start of the year. Measles is a serious, highly contagious disease that can cause brain damage and, in about 1 in 1,000 cases, death.
The root cause is the growing number of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children against measles, mumps, rubella, polio and other contagious diseases. The vaccine rejection movement has become so dangerous that the World Health Organization included it in its top 10 threats to global health in 2019. It’s no surprise that the outbreak took root in Washington, one of 17 states with permissive laws that grant exemptions on the basis of personal or philosophical beliefs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.