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The surge in global measles cases might be the first medical epidemic bolstered by a political movement. The anti-vaccination crowd — long relegated, quite properly, to the fringes of society — has moved perilously close to the mainstream, riding in on the same currents that brought us the Tea Party, Brexit and other populist movements. It’s the enthusiastic undermining of societal norms, however legitimate they might be. “Vaccine hesitancy and political populism are driven by similar dynamics: a profound distrust in elites and experts.” The correlation between populism and the anti-vaccination movement is so clear, the paper argues, that doctors should be tracking where populist sentiments are strongest and focus their vaccine-awareness efforts there: “Support for populist parties could be used as a proxy for vaccine hesitancy … with an increase in support being a signal for public health actors to be vigilant.” The Guardian, as part of a recent deep-dive series on the resurgence of populism, concluded the relationship with the anti-vaccination movement is a symbiotic one: Populism gets converts, and vaccination opponents get a political home after having been mostly rejected by established political parties. “The arguments align,” wrote the British daily. “Populists are often suspicious of the establishment and authority figures. Antivaxers are hostile to government, medical institutions, Big Pharma and science. More than 41,000 cases were reported in Europe in the first half of last year, almost double the year prior, with more than 30 deaths. England’s almost 1,000 cases in 2018 were fully triple the year before. In more than a half-dozen states, including Missouri, Republican lawmakers have responded to the epidemic by trying to pass legislation making it easier for people to avoid vaccinating their kids.
Janet Mills’ administration on track to pass. Now, Maine allows guardians to opt children out of school immunization requirements based on personal, religious or medical beliefs. Tipping’s bill would remove all nonmedical exemptions as a response to rising opt-out rates. During the past school year, only six states had a higher vaccine opt-out rate than Maine, and the share of kindergartners vaccinated for measles dropped in this school year for the third straight year with the share of students citing nonmedical exemptions rising from 5 percent to 5.6 percent. The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention warned those marks are risking the state’s “herd immunity,” a standard making it nearly impossible for contagious diseases to spread. “We have to make decisions in 2019 that are for the greater good, and this is one of those,” Carson said. Republicans on the education committee criticized Tipping’s bill as a violation of personal and parental rights. Democrats voted that down along party lines. Sen. Matt Pouliot, R-Augusta, said while he would support further education in places with high shares of unvaccinated children, parents have “a multitude of reasons” why they don’t vaccinate their kids. He said Tipping’s bill effectively boots a class of students out of public schools.
Morning Joe medical contributor Dr. Dave Campbell discusses the current measles outbreak in Rockland County, New York and beyond as well as cardiovascular health for men. » Subscribe to MSNBC: http://on.msnbc.com/SubscribeTomsnbc MSNBC delivers breaking news and in-depth analysis of the…