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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
April 9, 2019

Measles Vaccine Exemptions

JAMA. 2019;321(14):1344. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.3063

A 2018 outbreak of measles in California that infected 6 people may have been driven in part by children who received broad medical exemptions to measles vaccination, according to a CDC report.

A wave of US measles outbreaks fueled by unvaccinated children has led to concerns about lax vaccination requirements. Most recently there were 70 confirmed cases of measles—including 61 in unvaccinated individuals—in Washington State, where philosophical exemptions are allowed. In the affected county, only 78% of children age 6 through 18 years have received the recommended 2 doses of the measles vaccine, well below the 93% to 95% needed to maintain herd immunity, according to the World Health Organization. Since the outbreak began, state lawmakers have proposed banning such exemptions. Before resigning, US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD said in an interview that national policies may be needed to prevent permissive use of exemptions from sparking widespread outbreaks.