Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Andrew Wakefield, others hold anti-vaccine rally amid raging measles outbreaks

Andrew Wakefield, Del Bigtree, and other prominent anti-vaccine advocates unleashed fear and toxic misinformation last night at a well-attended symposium in New York’s Rockland County. The area is currently grappling with one of the largest and longest-standing measles outbreaks in the country, mainly in its tight-knit, ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.

Rocking babies and munching on cake, hundreds of people—many of them members of New York’s Orthodox Jewish community—gathered late Monday night at an anti-vaxxers rally in the Atrium, a ballroom in Monsey, about an hour north of New York City.
The event, advertised on WhatsApp and robocalls as a “Vaccines Symposium” and “a night of science, discussion, and truth,” featured mainly secular speakers, including anti-vax YouTuber Del Bigtree, “holistic pediatrician” Lawrence Palevsky, and Andrew Wakefield, the disgraced gastroenterologist and author of a now-retracted 1998 study linking the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism.
“Your news anchors and the media outside this building just want to talk about measles,” Bigtree told the rapt crowd. “I want to talk about autism. I want to talk about the greatest epidemic of our lifetime.” The audience burst into applause.
Measles is galloping through New York’s Orthodox community at a rate not seen in years, with nearly 500 cases reported so far. The outbreak has led to yeshiva closures and spread fear among parents of infants who are too young to be immunized and are at risk of infection.
Although study after study has shown childhood vaccinations to be safe and effective, there are still parents who refuse to get the shots for their kids.

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