Health officials have confirmed that the highly-contagious measles outbreak has sickened nearly two dozen people and has struck at least two Jewish day schools in Los Angeles County.
According to Southern California Public Radio (SCPR), the L.A. County Department of Public Health had reported that the people infected by the outbreak are unvaccinated individuals. In a statement, the department reportedly said, “We can say that the outbreak has largely been limited to unvaccinated people in a single social group and the disease is spreading among personal contacts in the group,” adding that “there have been no infections spreading in the general community.”
The last measles outbreak in Southern California was in December.
Rabbi Hershy Ten, the president of Bikur Cholim, a Jewish health care foundation, reportedly said the measles had struck at least two Jewish day schools. He could not disclose the school’s names or locations but noted that Judaism unequivocally supports vaccination.
“You’ll always find pockets within communities that would be categorized as ‘anti-vaxxers,’ that will not vaccinate their children,” Ten said, according to SCPR. “Why these individuals have embraced a belief that is today … not based on science or medicine, I can’t speak to.”
The majority of anti-vaccination rhetoric stems from affluent liberal enclaves in California, such as Santa Monica and the greater Los Angeles area. Liberals in Hollywood, like Jim Carey and Jenny McCarthy, have also advocated against vaccinations. President Donald Trump has also shown some interest in anti-vaccination views.
SCPR notes that eighteen people in L.A. County have contracted measles since early December and none of them could provide proof of vaccination. Two other people have reportedly been sickened in Santa Barbara County and Ventura County.
Senators Ben Allen and Dr. Richard Pan, both Democrats, were behind Senate Bill 277 (SB 277), which requires children in California to be vaccinated if they wish to enter a school setting. The bill became law after Gov. Jerry Brown signed it in June of 2015.
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