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Measles is a highly contagious disease that, on average, kills 10,000 people a year—mostly under the age of five. And while vaccines came close to eradicating the disease, outbreaks live on thanks to dangerous misinformation spread by anti-vaxxers (who were recently declared a global threat by the World Health Organization). As of today there are 21 22 confirmed (and four three suspected) cases of measles in Clark County, Washington, just north of Portland—and because of its highly communicable nature (spreading four days before and after a rash is present), this particular outbreak shows no signs of stopping. Dozens of places in the Vancouver/Portland area have been exposed to the virus, including the Portland International Airport, Ikea, and Costco. For more information on the local outbreak, check out the Clark County Public Health site.

So how can an old-timey disease like measles still be causing deaths today? There are many reasons, but a primary cause are skittish, easily influenced parents who have been bamboozled by the anti-scientific lies pushed by anti-vaxxers who speak with loud, braying confidence—though members of the medical community and media are also to blame for refusing to stick their necks out and shut down their lies for fear of being harassed.

Happily, the anti-vaxxers just ran into a very formidable foe: the editorial board of the New York Times, which came out with a searing take on the anti-science movement, and provided a list of ideas to help combat misinformation that includes toughing up mandatory vaccination rules, developing effective and pro-vaccine campaigns, and LOUDLY declaring the attributes of vaccines:

Vaccines, to some extent, are victims of their own success. In the United States especially, they’ve beaten so many infectious foes into oblivion that hardly any practicing doctors, let alone new parents, remember how terrible those diseases once were. An effective pro-vaccine campaign needs to remind us: Vaccines prevent two million to three million deaths globally each year. In developing countries, people line up for hours to get these shots. It’s also O.K. to get out of the gray zone. Scientists, especially, are uncomfortable with black-and-white statements, because science is all about nuance. But, in the case of vaccines, there are some hard truths that deserve to be trumpeted. Vaccines are not toxic, and they do not cause autism. Full stop.

Read the rest here, and share with all the new parents you know.

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