Frieden: School Boards Should Decide If All Children – Without Exception – Should Be Vaccinated

By Melanie Arter | February 2, 2015 | 3:30pm EST

Pediatrician Charles Goodman vaccinates 1 year-old Cameron Fierro with the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, or MMR vaccine at his practice in Northridge, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

(CNSNews.com) – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Thomas Frieden said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that the school board and the community should decide whether to mandate that all children – without exemption – should be vaccinated against the measles, despite being “very concerned” that the U.S. could see “a large outbreak” from “a growing number” of children who have contracted the disease.

“We've worked community by community, and it's a decision for the school board, for the community,” said Frieden. “Last year we had a large outbreak in an Amish community. We worked closely with the community. We got vaccination done. We increased use of isolation and quarantine, and the outbreak stopped. We can control it.

Frieden said he is “very concerned by the growing number of people who are susceptible to measles” – a disease that was declared eliminated in 2000.

“We are very concerned by the growing number of people who are susceptible to measles and to the possibility that we could have a large outbreak in this country as a result,” he said.

California alone has 91 confirmed cases of measles – 58 of them connected to visits to Disneyland or contact with someone who was there while ill, the Associated Press reported. That’s not the only state with measles cases though. Utah, Washington, Colorado, Oregon, Nebraska, and Arizona all have recorded measles cases.

Frieden said these cases have all resulted “from individuals who have traveled and brought it back here.”

Parents in some states can use what’s called a “personal belief exemption” to opt out of having their children immunized. Two states – Mississippi and West Virginia – do not allow it. Vaccination is mandatory without exception, and as a result, they have close to 100 percent vaccination rates.

According to the CDC’s “frequently asked questions” measles page, the measles was declared eliminated from the United States, “because it has a highly effective measles vaccine, a strong vaccination program that achieves high vaccine coverage in children and a strong public health system for detecting and responding to measles cases and outbreaks.”

The CDC defined “measles elimination” as “the absence of continuous disease transmission for 12 months or more in a specific geographic area. Measles is no longer endemic (constantly present) in the United States.”

“The future is within our control. We vaccinate well. We increase those vaccination rates. We can stop measles just as we stopped it before,” Frieden said.

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