Sep 21, 2019

Anti-vax movement targets Maine law on vaccine exemptions

The "Tdap" vaccine at the Nasson Health Care clinic in Springvale, Maine in 2018. Photo: Brianna Soukup/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Maine is close to adding a ballot question to ask voters "to overturn a state law eliminating nonmedical vaccine exemptions for school children," due to efforts from members of the anti-vaccination movement, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The big picture: "Maine is one of a handful of states that have passed laws to limit exemptions to vaccinations developed to stop the spread of infectious diseases like measles, which immunization can keep at bay," per the WSJ. Earlier this year, the Democrat-controlled state legislature passed the law for fear of low immunization rates among young people.

  • "New York eliminated religious exemptions from school-vaccination rules this year," the WSJ notes — and that "repeal came in the midst of the worst measles outbreak in the U.S. since 1992."
  • Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said this week that he "wants his state to eliminate most exemptions via new legislation," per the WSJ.
  • California passed a law in 2015 that "barred families from citing personal beliefs, including religion, as a reason for schoolchildren to receive exemptions" for vaccination, per the WSJ — and a newly proposed state law aims to curb medical exemptions for vaccines.

Go deeper: No new measles cases reported last week for first time since January

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U.S. likely to retain measles elimination status — but barely

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

New York says it has reached a "milestone" in halting the measles outbreak that started in October 2018, and U.S. public health officials now believe the country has retained its measles elimination status — just barely meeting the year deadline, a spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

Yes, but: Recent cases reported from returning international travelers demonstrate the danger of new outbreaks when there are still pockets of communities with low vaccination rates. Despite measles being mostly preventable, the combination of the anti-vaccination movement and vaccine hesitancy places several communities at risk.

Go deeperArrowOct 3, 2019

NY officials: Major measles outbreak is over as countdown continues

Waiting for patients at the Rockland County Health Department in April. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

Health officials from Rockland County — the New York community that's been a focal point in the recent battle over measles due to its low vaccination rate — announced Wednesday that the outbreak there is over.

Why it matters: The latest measles outbreak in America is the largest since 1992, and public health officials have been concerned the U.S. could lose the "measles elimination status" it earned in 2000. But the U.S. may "scrape through just under the wire" and retain its status as long as no new cases are reported in New York state in September, a spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells Axios.

Go deeperArrowSep 25, 2019

Lifesaving drugs could be missing on commercial flights

Photo: Michael H/Getty Images

It's illegal for U.S. airlines to take off without a kit of lifesaving drugs on board, but the Federal Aviation Administration has been handing out exemptions because some of those drugs are facing shortages, the New York Times reports.

The big picture: Domestic and international flights must carry drugs for severe allergic reactions, cardiac arrest, irregular heart rhythm, slow heart rates and low blood sugar. In 2016, more than 50 airlines were granted 4-year exemptions from the requirement to carry all 5 drugs in the medical kit.

Go deeperArrowOct 4, 2019