I've mentioned in a 2007 post, "Mad Science", about the political issue of autism's and their alleged link to childhood vaccinations in the past as a metaphor for what we went thru with the debunked tort driven silicone breast implant (SBI) scare in the late 1980's. Unlike SBI's which are a cosmetic product, vaccines save lives. Lots of them!
A wrong headed attempt to blame first a preservative in some vaccines (thimerosol) and later the vaccines themselves for new diagnosis of autism has led to a dangerous public health situation. Pockets of non-immunized children can clearly serve the role of "typhoid mary" for pandemics of illness if history is any guide.
The number of new measles cases in the U.S. is at its highest level since 1997, and nearly half of those involve children whose parents rejected vaccination. According to the Las Vegas Sun,
It is no longer endemic to the United States, but every year some Americans pick it up while traveling abroad and bring it home. Measles epidemics have exploded in Israel, Switzerland and some other countries. But high U.S. childhood vaccination rates have prevented major outbreaks here.
In a typical year, only one outbreak occurs in the United States, infecting perhaps 10 to 20 people. So far this year through July 30 the country has seen seven outbreaks, including one in Illinois with 30 cases, said Seward, deputy director of the CDC's Division of Viral Diseases.
....The nation once routinely saw hundreds of thousands of measles cases each year, and hundreds of deaths. But immunization campaigns were credited with dramatically reducing the numbers. The last time health officials saw this many cases was 1997, when 138 were reported. Last year, there were only 42 U.S. cases."
Leading the voices of reason and evidence-based medicine is Dr. Paul Offit, who has a great new book coming out this whole controversy and breaks it down for a lay audience as to what the issues are and what the evidence shows. Linked below is a nice clip of Dr. Offit summarizing this.