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Why 2019 could be the worst year for measles in the US in decades | Society



I f current trends continue, 2019 will be the worst year for measles in the United States in decades

Although the disease was officially declared eliminated in 2000, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC) shows that it is now at its highest level in the US since 1

992. The problem, according to the CDC and the World Health Organization, is "vaccine hesitancy".

The answer begins in 1998 when the well-respected academic journal The Lancet published a now-debunked study that found a link between autism and measles, mumps and rubella vaccine referred to as MMR). But the authors had looked at only 12 children to reach their conclusions. The information in it was later found to be false, meaning that the paper was retracted in 2010.

But the damage was already done. A significant section of the public has come to establish a link between vaccines and developmental disorders in children. Today, around one in 10 US adults believe that the risks of vaccination outweigh the benefits according to surveys by the Pew Research Center

. These views are held despite the evidence that there is no link between MMR vaccine and autism. This includes:

A 1999 study, also published in The Lancet, which studied 498 cases of autism

A 2001 study, published in Pediatrics, which studied 262 children. England Journal of Medicine, which studied 537,303 children.

A 2019 study, in Annals of Internal Medicine, which studied 657,461 children

This weight of evidence, totaling a sample size of 1,195,524, is visualized below.

 This image is the first in a series showing that there is no link between MMR vaccine and autism



Photograph by Mona Chalabi

Now scroll to zoom out

 This image is the second in a series showing that there is no link between MMR vaccine and autism



Photograph by Mona Chalabi

Keep going …

 This image is the third in a series showing that there is no link between MMR vaccine and autism



Photograph: Mona Chalabi

… and going

 This image is the fourth in a series showing that there is no link between MMR vaccine and autism



Photograph: Mona Chalabi

… and going

 This image is the fifth in a series showing that there is no link between MMR vaccine and autism



Photograph: Mona Chalabi

 This is the sixth in a series showing that there is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism



Photograph: Mona Chalabi

To find out how a lack of immunization has contributed to the measles outbreaks, see this previous column

This is a column that illustrates the numbers from the news every week. Have feedback or ideas for future columns? Write to me: mona.chalabi@theguardian.com


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