A new map from the Council of Foreign Relations shows an increase in the number of preventable viral outbreaks across America and other parts of the world. The majority of the outbreaks are attributed in large part to an increasing number of parents opting not to vaccinate their children.
The map shows a startling number of measles outbreaks in America and Europe. The number of outbreaks is troubling given that the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine is proven to be over 99 percent effective at preventing outbreaks in regularly vaccinated children. Until 2013, the Centers for Disease Control documented about 60 cases of measles annually. In 2013, that number jumped to 175; anti-vaccine beliefs are believed to be the main cause of the increase.
Religious beliefs often play a role in parents' decisions regarding vaccines. Numerous states currently have politicians battling it out over whether religious liberty entitles some parents to put other people's children at risk because of their personal beliefs.
Anti-vaccine views are also on the rise in the west thanks to both the discredited research of U.K. physician Andrew Wakefield and television personalities like Jenny McCarthy. Wakefield now denounces his disproven research, which attempted to link the MMR vaccine with autism. McCarthy, whose son is diagnosed with autism, continues to espouse her belief that vaccines caused her son's autism.
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To be clear, there is not one bit of evidence showing that vaccines cause autism. On the other hand, it is a proven fact that vaccines prevent or reduce outbreaks of the illnesses they target. The more people choose to deny this truth, the more maps we will see like this one, showing outbreaks of preventable viruses: