The federal government has confirmed more than 100 people across 14 states have now developed measles. Public health officials suspect the outbreak, which is concentrated in California, began when an infected person visited Disneyland in Anaheim in December. In recent years, a growing number of parents have opted not to have their children vaccinated, claiming a link between vaccines and autism. The prestigious medical journal Lancet published a study in 1998 showing such a link, but the study was later retracted and has been widely discredited. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 12 children born in the United States is not receiving their first dose of MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine on time. Several potential Republican presidential candidates have weighed in on the debate. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, an ophthalmologist, said he had heard of instances where vaccines caused "mental disorders." New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said vaccinating kids is a matter of "parental choice."
We spend the hour discussing the vaccine debate and public health with three guests: Dorit Rubinstein Reiss is a professor at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, and co-author of the report, "Funding the Costs of Disease Outbreaks Caused by Non-Vaccination"; Mary Holland is the mother of a child with regressive autism who, she believes, was injured by the MMR vaccine. She is also a research scholar at New York University School of Law and co-editor of the book, "Vaccine Epidemic: How Corporate Greed, Biased Science, and Coercive Government Threaten Our Human Rights, Our Health, and Our Children"; and Dr. Paul Offit is chief of the division of infectious diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a professor of pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He is author of "Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure" and "Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All."
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