One area of particular concern, the US has counted more measles cases in the first two months of 2019 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 in late February.
"I grew up understanding my mother believed vaccines are unsafe, as she would speak openly about her views both online and in person", the high schooler said Tuesday in testimony before a Senate hearing on contagious disease outbreaks.
Ethan Lindenberger, a high school senior, testified Tuesday before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, underscoring the importance of "credible" information.
When Lindenberger would attempt to show his mother scientific evidence and reports disproving anti-vaxx misinformation, such as the thoroughly debunked claim that vaccines cause autism, she would instead point to anecdotes shared on Facebook anti-vax groups.
The committee sought to discuss the famously dispelled myth that vaccines are linked to autism (most recently refuted in a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine Monday), and how to combat preventable diseases, with an eye towards the recent measles outbreak in Washington state.
Social media companies face increasing scrutiny for amplifying fringe anti-vaccine sentiment amid measles outbreaks in several states like Washington.
Many vaccines are theoretically mandatory for children to attend school in the United States.
Lindenberger's mother, Jill Wheeler, told The Associated Press that she "didn't agree with anything he said" but was proud of his appearance before the committee.
Doctors today blamed social media, in part, for spreading false information about vaccines and encouraged concerned parents to turn to pediatricians, not the internet.
"People don't resonate well with information and data", Lindenberger said. He called for an increase to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's budget and increased funding for immunization programs that involve sharing immunization information with parents and maintaining electronic immunization systems. The boy's mother, however, said her 7-year-old already had his shots, so they need not worry.
While Paul's remarks generated some audience applause, Sen.
"I think it's the same with vaccinations", he added. "But I do not favor on giving up on liberty for a false sense of security".
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) on Tuesday clashed with Sen. "This is why I question vaccines", says mother Brandy Vaughn, who has chosen not to vaccinate her son.
If one of his younger children approached him about wanting to be vaccinated, Lindenberger said he would allow them to do so.
"Here is what I want parents in Tennessee, in Washington, in Texas, everywhere in our country to know: Vaccines are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and meet the FDA's gold standard of safety".
All in all, "vaccines are safe, effective and the best protection we have against serious preventable diseases like measles", Wiesman said. "The only way to protect against measles is to get vaccinated".
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