Parents' vaccine fears causing measles revival

In spite of years of research proving otherwise, some parents still misguidedly believe vaccines--such as the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) shot--can cause autism. And their decision to skip their children's vaccinations are leading to an increasing number of measles outbreaks.

Measles once affected about 4 million children a year, causing hundreds of deaths and leaving thousands more with brain damage. Widespread vaccination programs have eliminated the disease in North America. But parents who choose not to get their children vaccinated leave them vulnerable to contracting the illness from someone in another part of the world, where measles is more common.

Vancouver is dealing with its own small outbreak following the massive influx of visitors for the Winter Olympics. Sixteen people have contracted the measles; half of them are in one unvaccinated household. Health officials are usually able to keep outbreaks of the incredibly contagious virus small, but because it's so easily transmitted from person to person, even a minor outbreak causes considerable work and is costly for officials to contain.

While some may reject shots for religious reasons, an increasing number of parents do so because they believe in raising their kids in a 'natural' lifestyle can help boost their immunity to diseases without vaccinations. But they not only reject shots due to their misinformed ideas about their safety, but also because they don't trust government officials who say the injections aren't linked to autism.

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