Feb 12, 2024 - Health

Measles comeback is "canary in the coal mine" for U.S., vaccine expert says

Book cover for "Tell Me When It's Over" by Paul A. Offit.

The return of measles is a "canary in the coal mine" for the country's ability to fight the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases, vaccine expert Paul Offit warned in an interview with Axios.

Why it matters: That's among the many consequences of vaccine misinformation and politicization that exploded during the pandemic, Offit writes in a new book out Tuesday, "Tell Me When It's Over: An Insider's Guide to Deciphering COVID Myths and Navigating Our Post-Pandemic World."

The big picture: The World Health Organization recently warned about global outbreaks of measles tied to falling vaccination rates, and the CDC late last month issued an alert about cases popping up in the U.S., mostly among kids and teens who weren't vaccinated.

What he's saying: "Independence is trumping the collective," said Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and a member of the FDA's vaccine advisory committee since 2018.

  • He pointed to hundreds of bills in statehouses that have been introduced or passed to "neutralize public health" mandates, while growing numbers of parents are pushing back against any vaccine requirements for their kids.
  • "What you're seeing is exactly what you would expect to see, which is the most contagious of the vaccine-preventable diseases coming back."

Go deeper: A worrying sign in the global effort to vaccinate every child

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