The U.S. has counted more measles cases in the first two months of this year than in all of 2017, and part of the rising threat is misinformation that makes some parents balk at a crucial vaccine, federal health officials told Congress Wednesday.
Yet the vaccine is hugely effective and very safe — so the rise of measles cases “is really unacceptable,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, infectious disease chief at the National Institutes of Health.
The disease was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, which means it was not being spread domestically. But cases have been rising in recent years, and 2019 is shaping up to be a bad one.
Republican and Democratic lawmakers at the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing bemoaned what’s called “vaccine hesitancy,” meaning when people refuse or delay vaccinations.
“These outbreaks are tragic since they’re completely avoidable,” said Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Ky.
“This is a public health problem for which science has already provided a solution,” agreed Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J.