President Trump answers questions at the White House on April 26. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump on Friday spoke for the first time on the record about measles outbreaks that have taken place across 22 states so far this year, instructing parents to vaccinate their children against the highly contagious and occasionally deadly virus.

What he said: "They have to get the shots. The vaccinations are so important, this is really going around now. They have to get the shots."

Why it matters: Trump's comments are notable in part because he has expressed skepticism of vaccines in the past. For example, he met with prominent anti-vaxxers such as Andrew Wakefield, whose study on a tie between the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine with autism was debunked and retracted from a scientific journal.

A more recent study with thousands of participants found no link between the MMR vaccine and autism, and the vaccine is safe and effective.

  • In the past, presidents have used the bully pulpit to encourage Americans to vaccinate themselves and their children against diseases such as polio, measles and the flu, among others.
  • Until Friday, Trump had remained silent on the ongoing outbreaks, which are the largest the U.S. has seen in any year since the virus was declared eradicated from the country in 2000.

The big picture: So far this year, the U.S. has seen nearly 700 cases of the measles, with more than 70 cases reported in just one week. As of Monday, 5 states were reporting outbreaks, with the largest ones occurring in New York, including in New York City.

A reluctance by some parents to vaccinate their children, either because of misinformation spread online or other reasons, has made many communities more susceptible to outbreaks sparked when people travel from regions where the virus is still active.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Over 73 million people watched the first debate on TV

Data: Nielsen; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

More than 73.1 million people watched the first presidential debate on television on Tuesday night, according to Nielsen ratings.

Why it matters: While that's a sizable audience for any American TV program, it's down more than 13% from the record number of TV viewers who tuned in for the first debate of the 2016 election. The chaotic nature of the debate and the overall uncertainty around this year's election may have pushed some viewers away.

Senate passes bill funding government through December

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Senate on Tuesday passed legislation to fund the federal government through Dec. 11, by a vote of 84-10.

Where it stands: The legislation will avert a government shutdown before funding expires Wednesday night and before the Nov. 3 election. The House passed the same measure last week by a vote of 359-57 after House Democrats and the Trump administration agreed on the resolution.

  • Both sides agreed early in negotiations that the bill should be a "clean" continuing resolution — meaning each party would only make small changes to existing funding levels so the measure would pass through both chambers quickly, Axios' Alayna Treene reported last week. The bill now goes to President Trump for his signature.
Bryan Walsh, author of Future
2 hours ago - Technology

The age of engineering life begins

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Synthetic biology startups raised some $3 billion through the first half of 2020, up from $1.9 billion for all of 2019, as the field brings the science of engineering to the art of life.

The big picture: Synthetic biologists are gradually learning how to program the code of life the way that computer experts have learned to program machines. If they can succeed — and if the public accepts their work — synthetic biology stands to fundamentally transform how we live.