President Obama is speaking out against the anti-vaccination movement, saying there is no science to support the beliefs of so-called “anti-vaxxers” and calling on them to better protect their children.
Obama is speaking out amid a new outbreak of the measles, a disease once nearly eradicated but has returned thanks in part to a movement that opposes getting children vaccinated.
“There is every reason to get vaccinated — there aren’t reasons to not,” Obama said in an interview with NBC News. “I just want people to know the facts and science and the information. And the fact is that a major success of our civilization is our ability to prevent disease that in the past have devastated folks. And measles is preventable.”
The latest measles outbreak is believed to have been sparked when a number of unvaccinated people visited the Disneyland theme park in California. It has since spread to 14 other states, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden warned that it has the potential to become a “very large” outbreak.
Obama’s remarks represent the White House’s most direct and strongest statements against the anti-vaccination movement. Over the weekend, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the decision on whether to vaccinate or not was ultimately up to parents.
“I’m not going stand up here and dispense medical advice. But I am going to suggest that the president’s view is that people should evaluate this for themselves, with a bias toward good science and toward the advice of our public health professionals, who are trained to offer us exactly this kind of advice.”
But Obama took it a step further, saying that parents should be vaccinating their kids.
“You should get your kids vaccinated — it’s good for them,” Obama said. “We should be able to get back to the point where measles effectively is not existing in this country.”
President Obama is not the only one countering the anti-vaccination movement. Many doctors have begun refusing patients who are not vaccinated, and school districts are removing children who do not have their vaccinations.