HealthDay News — Public health vaccine opposition has been growing in recent years in the United States, and has resulted in measles outbreaks, according to a policy forum article published online June 12 in PLOS Medicine.

Jacqueline K. Olive, from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and colleagues address the state of the antivaccine movement in the United States.

The authors note that in recent years, a social movement of public health vaccine opposition has been growing in the United States, with an increase in measles outbreaks. The number of “philosophical-belief” vaccine non-medical exemptions (NMEs) has increased since 2009 in 12 of the 18 states that currently allow this policy. Several US “hotspot” metropolitan areas have very large numbers of NMEs, including Seattle, Spokane (Washington), and Portland (Oregon), in the Northwest. In analysis of the correlation between NME rates and actual vaccine coverage, there was an inverse association between NME rate and measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine coverage of kindergarteners.

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“Our findings indicate that new foci of antivaccine activities are being established in major metropolitan areas, rendering select cities vulnerable for vaccination-preventable diseases,” the authors write. “As noted by the recent experience in Anaheim, California, low vaccination rates resulted in a measles outbreak. In contrast, state closure of NMEs has resulted in an increase of MMR coverage.”

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