As of Friday, more than 270 people across the country, mostly small children, have been infected by the super contagious and sometimes deadly pathogen, measles, in ongoing outbreaks since last fall.
In New York City, the virus has been spreading since September among Orthodox Jews, some of whom reject vaccines on behalf of their children because of unfounded safety concerns. In Washington, mistrust of health officials and pharmaceutical companies appears to be driving parents to opt out, leading to 62 cases since January 1. (Nearly one in four kindergartners isn’t vaccinated at the outbreak’s epicenter, Clark County.) There are also cases in Texas, Oregon, and western and southern New York State.
These outbreaks will cost states and the federal government millions of dollars to contain. They’ll distract from other important public health programs. Most importantly, they’ll put people who can’t be immunized — people allergic to vaccines, newborn babies — at risk.