Anti-Vaccine Movement Causes First Deaths, Doctor Says

Person with blue gloves using a needle to pull a vaccine from a clear vial

A movement against vaccines based on the belief that the medication causes more harm than good, has now led to its first deaths, according to reports.

In an interview with The Hill, Dr. Peter Hotez, a vaccine expert, noted that as flu season is upon the United States, there were more than 200 deaths of children associated with influenza. Of those deaths, 80 percent of the children were not vaccinated against the illness, said Hotez, who is dean of the School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.

"So for the first time now we're seeing deaths because of this anti-vaccine movement," Hotez told The Hill

In his interview, Hotez noted that there are three major diseases that concern him that the anti-vaccination movement has voiced its opposition to – the flu, measles and cervical cancer. Currently, an outbreak of the measles has swept across parts of New Jersey and New York. With measles being highly contagious, Hotez said that is often the first illness you see break out due to a lack of vaccinations. According to various reports, there have been more than 100 confirmed cases of the measles across parts of New York and New Jersey, The Hill said. The majority of those who have been infected with the measles virus has not been vaccinated, according to the report.

When it comes to cervical cancer, Hotez said there are “lots of teenage girls” whose parents are withholding the human papillomavirus vaccine, such as Gardisil or Cervarix, which can reduce the chances of cervical cancer related to the virus.

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Earlier this month an outbreak of chickenpox was reported in Asheville, N.C. According to reports, 36 students at one school all came down the virus. The school, The Asheville Waldorf School, has one of the highest rates for religious exemptions from vaccines, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times.

According to the Washington Post, the percentage of children in the United States who do not receive any vaccines has quadrupled since 2001. Citing an analysis from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Post said about 1.3 percent of children who were born in 2015 do not receive vaccinations. That number grew from .3 percent in 2001, the Post said. While the number of children is small when taking into account the number of children born each year in the United States, the Post noted that the growing numbers of unvaccinated children have health officials worrying, particularly as a number of diseases such as measles are making a return to the United States.

At the time of the CDC report, Hotez noted that the number of unvaccinated children may be minute across the country as a whole, but there are significant pockets of the population where the numbers of children without vaccinations are much higher. Hotez has been an outspoken critic of the anti-vaccination crowd who often suggest that vaccines are related to the growing rate of autism in the United States. Hotez’ daughter is autistic and he wrote a book called “Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel’s Autism” in response.

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