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An anti-vaccination parent outside a vaccines hearing held by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on March 5, 2019. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Between Jan. 1 and March 7, the CDC confirmed 228 cases of measles across 12 states.

Why it matters: These outbreaks — which have been especially large in Washington, Oregon and Texas — were predictable. A 2018 study of vaccination rates identified a dozen likely hotspots, two of which have now seen eruptions of this preventable illness.

Background: The current anti-vaccine movement began more than 20 years ago after a paper published in The Lancet (but later retracted) claimed that the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine could be linked to autism.

Where it stands: Since then it's spawned a media empire that includes almost 500 anti-vaccine websites, each amplified on social media. Almost all of Amazon's best-selling vaccine books are by anti-vaxxers, though the company has removed some anti-vaccine documentaries from its Prime streaming service.

  • The anti-vaccine movement has also added political arms, with PACs in multiple Western states lobbying legislatures to maintain or expand vaccine exemptions — moves that would all but ensure future outbreaks.
  • U.S. public health agencies have been reluctant to launch highly visible advocacy campaigns to combat anti-vaccine messaging. Meanwhile, Australia's government has launched a 12 million Australian dollar ($8.5 million) initiative.

What’s needed: Countering the anti-vaccine movement would require dismantling its media presence through a partnership between the federal government and the major social media and e-commerce platforms. In parallel, states with outbreaks underway could help stem their growth by closing non-medical vaccine exemptions.

What to watch: The House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate HELP Committee have each held hearings on the outbreaks, but have yet to formulate new policies. If no action is taken, the number of cases will likely continue to climb.

Peter Hotez is a professor of pediatrics and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and the author of “Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel’s Autism.” He met with congressional staffers ahead of the recent hearings.

Go deeper

Updated 31 mins ago - World

State Department orders evacuation of U.S. diplomats' families from Ukraine

From left, Under Secretary for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Chargés d'Affaires in Ukraine Kristina Kvien during a meeting with Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal in Kyiv. Photo: Yevhen Liubimov/ Ukrinform/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The State Department will begin evacuating families and non-essential staff from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv this week, according to a travel advisory published Sunday evening.

Why it matters: The move underscores U.S. fears that a Russian invasion could destabilize Ukraine and threaten embassy's ability to assist Americans.

Perfect storm brewing for extreme politicians

Data: Axios research; Table: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Redistricting and a flood of departing incumbents are paving the way for more extreme candidates in this year's midterm elections.

Driving the news: At least 19 House districts in 12 states are primed to attract such candidates — hard partisans running in strongly partisan districts — according to an Axios analysis of districts as measured by the Cook Political Report's Partisan Voter Index (PVI).

Updated 60 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February — FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated".
  2. Vaccines: Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: Beijing Olympic Committee lowers COVID testing threshold ahead of Games — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker