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Measles outbreak stirs vaccine debate as it spreads from Disneyland

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan. 26, 2015) – The Center for Disease Control confirms a measles outbreak — that started at Disneyland in California — is spreading, and some doctors say the problem stems from an anti-vaccine movement.

The majority of the cases are in California, but the outbreak has spread to at least seven other states and to Mexico, with about 80 cases total as of Monday.

“We are seeing these diseases, that we thought were our parents and grandparents diseases… coming back into society,” said Lisa Robertson, Executive director Indiana Immunization Coalition.

So far, there haven’t been any related cases from the outbreak in Indiana. There was one measles case in the state in 2014, but nothing this year.

Still, some worry if more parents choose not to vaccine their kids, it could put more people at risk, while others believe the risk is the vaccine itself. “Measles was almost eradicated in the U.S., then there was the anti-vaccine movement, and now we’re seeing the resurgence of measles,” Robertson said.

“Measles is highly, highly contagious, which is why you need to at least be cautious,” Robertson said.

The Indiana Immunization Coalition says most parents in the Hoosier state have been cautious.

“About 93% of our kindergarteners enter school with the measles vaccine already, and by the time they get to 6th grade, almost 100%, 99% of the kids have their measles vaccine,” Robertson said.

Still, some kids still go to class without getting vaccinated.

“There are two exemptions you can have going into school unvaccinated, one is a medical exemption, the other is a religious exemption,” Robertson said.

The religious choice – is something Karmen Wagler informs people about through her group she helped form called the “Indiana Coalition for Vaccination Choice.”

Wagler says she used to administer vaccines herself as a nurse through a health department position in Indiana, but says the vaccine she gave her son when he was a baby changed her view on the issue.

“At that time, he was saying many words, if you asked him to say a word he would make every attempt to say it. After I gave him the vaccine, over a period of time we began to notice he began to lose developmental milestones that he had already attained,” Wagler said. “He had rashes, and fevers and he was just sickly.” Wagler says her research has led her to question the safety of vaccines given to babies and believes, like some other parents in the U.S., that the MMR vaccine given to her son is directly linked to his Autism.

“You hear this often, these parents are not making this up. What I found was a community of people, reporting the same thing I reported about my son,” Wagler said.

”We’re there as a support system, if you’re seeking vaccine exemption rights through their workplace or educational facility, we will help them do that. We’re not telling them not to vaccinate, that’s not our place, we’re not telling them to claim a religious exemption, but what we will do is assist them in the process with no bias, we make no profit off vaccines or not vaccinating,” she said.

The CDC and other health officials say there is no link to Autism.

“There have been 20 very large epidemical, logical studies looking exactly at that, does this vaccine or any vaccine cause Autism — and there have been no studies to confirm those findings,” Robertson said.

For more information from the Indiana Immunization Coalition, click here.

For more information from the Indiana Coalition for Vaccination Choice, clink here.

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