Measles outbreaks in New York and Washington State are gaining attention. This disease, all but wiped out 20 years ago, now spreads among clusters of children who were not inoculated.
Scientists deem the vaccine safe. Sensibly, most people get them. But some parents indulge skepticism, paranoia and groupthink and believe canards about a link to autism.
Before his election President Donald Trump helped spread these vaccine fears — for reasons he has yet to truly defend or even explain.
One of his many tweets on the subject, from March 2014, said: "Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn't feel good and changes — AUTISM. Many such cases!"
When Trump took office, word got around that he would put Robert Kennedy Jr., a vaccination resister, on an advisory panel on the topic. Since then Kennedy was reported to have had a few conversations with higher-ups in the Trump administration, but otherwise, no official followup.
Last week Kennedy showed up at the state Capitol in Olympia, Washington, to testify against a bill that would end personal or philosophical exemptions for measles, mumps, and rubella shots.
While we have heard the voluble president mock Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' divorce, make fun of global warming, sneer at Democratic candidates and call his wall plan urgent, he maintains Twitter silence on this public health crisis.
Judging by the public positions at the Centers for Disease Control, nothing at all has changed in federal policy or thinking about the vaccines.
"On-time vaccination throughout childhood is essential because it helps provide immunity before children are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases," says the CDC website.
"Vaccines are tested to ensure that they are safe and effective for children to receive at the recommended ages."
Click further on the details, and there are many, and you'll read:
"Serious side effects after vaccination, such as severe allergic reaction, are very rare and doctors and clinic staff are trained to deal with them.
"Pay extra attention to your child for a few days after vaccination. If you see something that concerns you, call your child’s doctor."
As recently as Monday Robert Redfield, whom Trump picked last year as CDC director, himself tweeted:
"Measles can be prevented with MMR #vaccine. The MMR vaccine is very safe and effective. Two doses of MMR vaccine are about 97% effective at preventing #measles; one dose is about 93% effective."
Has Trump changed his mind? Was his mind ever made up, and if so how? Does Dr. Sean Conley, who oddly predicted Trump's good health "for the duration of his presidency, and beyond," insist on vaccinations for patients?
Maybe, at some point, someone who spoke with the president during all that unscheduled "executive" time will explain where he stands on this measles emergency. Or he can just ignore it.