President Donald Trump urged all Americans to "get their shots," amid a nationwide outbreak of measles.
The president's comments come as measles cases spread throughout the United States, with nearly 700 cases being reported across 22 states, as reported by the BBC. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that these are the highest numbers seen since 2000, with the highly infectious disease making a resurgence since it was eliminated from the country back at the start of the century.
Hundreds of staff and students at universities across Los Angeles, California, have been put in quarantine over fears that they may have contracted the disease. Those who were thought to be at risk of being infected with measles were told to stay at home until they could prove their immunity. Trump's warnings come amid news that up to 82 people at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) were unable to hand in their vaccination records as of Thursday, according to the institution.
In addition, 156 people at California State University, including students and library staff, were unable to provide vaccination records and had to remain quarantined, as reported by news agency Associated Press.
When asked about the measles outbreak by reporters outside the White House, Trump stated that getting vaccinated is "so important." His comments, as noted by the BBC, contradict his very own point of view, which he has expressed often over the years. Trump has previously linked vaccines and autism — a claim that has been debunked by scientist and health care experts many times in the past decade — in some of his early social media posts.As further cited by the BBC, Trump suggested that vaccines were behind what he dubbed "an epidemic of autism" during a Republican primary debate back in 2015. He argued that while he was in favor of vaccines, he wanted "smaller doses over a longer period of time." The president also held meetings with several prominent anti-vaccine campaigners (also known as "anti-vaxxers") ahead of the 2016 election. A steady decrease in vaccination rates has become somewhat of a trend lately across the globe, with many parents in the U.S. deciding not to have their children vaccinated for both philosophical and/or religious reasons. Others still defend the theory that vaccines cause autism in young children, despite science saying otherwise.
Measles is a highly infectious disease that can cause serious health issues, such as lung and brain damage. In the first three months of 2019, the World Health Organization observed a rise of 300 percent in measles cases worldwide, with over 110,000 people contracting the disease.According to the CDC, the rise in measles cases in the U.S. is "part of a global trend seen over the past few years as other countries struggle with declining vaccination rates."