As news broke Wednesday that US measles cases have hit their highest mark in 25 years, a proposed vaccine law in California was drawing massive opposition. Details:
- Officials in hard-hit New York City on Wednesday reported 61 new cases since late last week, in what would make this the nation's worst year for measles since 1994, with eight months still to go, the AP reports. Other states are reporting more cases, too. The US is closing in on 700 cases this year in a resurgence largely attributed to misinformation that is turning parents against vaccines. Public health officials are worried, not just because measles can be dangerous in itself, but because its return could mean other diseases that were seemingly consigned to the past may be coming back, too. (More on that story here.)
- Hundreds of critics of mandatory vaccines were in Sacramento Wednesday opposing a California proposal to give state public health officials instead of local doctors the power to decide which children can skip their shots before attending school, the AP reports. They packed the first legislative hearing on a bill that proponents said would stem bogus exemptions granted in many cases by doctors who are paid to excuse students from vaccinations. California ended non-medical immunization exemptions in 2016, but the bill would follow West Virginia's lead in having public health officials rather than doctors decide who qualifies for medical exemptions. Doctors would certify that they examined the patient and then send the state health department the reason they are recommending the exemption. State and county health officials could also revoke exemptions if they are found to be fraudulent or contradict federal immunization standards. Opponents of the bill, including members of parental rights and religious groups, doctors, and alternative healthcare practitioners, said the measure strips away parents' rights and isn't necessary to prevent outbreaks.
- The California bill is one of a number of efforts by state legislatures to address measles outbreaks. Washington state lawmakers voted Tuesday to remove parents' ability to claim a personal or philosophical exemption from vaccinating their children for measles, although medical and religious exemptions will remain. Oregon is considering removing all non-medical exemptions, drawing the ire of hundreds of parents who came to the state capitol Tuesday to protest.
(They defied NYC's vaccination order. Now, consequences