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Thank anti-vaccination activists for the Disneyland measles outbreak

To the editor: In 1998, Dr. Andrew Wakefield published an article in the Lancet showing a direct relationship between the administration of the measles vaccine and autism. Eventually, British Medical Journal assessed the article and found it to be fraudulent. Wakefield lost his license, and the Lancet retracted the article. ("Disneyland, holiday travel a perfect mix for measles' spread," Jan. 14)

Tragically, too many misguided individuals, some with celebrity status, continue to preach the evils of vaccination based on this discredited article. Worse, they encourage other to do the same. The inevitable result is the measles epidemic we are now experiencing.

We can no longer tolerate subjecting children to the risks of preventable diseases. Ignorance cannot dictate public health. No unvaccinated child should be allowed to enter public school. Parents who withhold vaccination of their children are subjecting their children and their contacts to a serious disease and should be held accountable in a court of law.

Before widespread vaccination, this country had 500 deaths annually from measles. Enough. Society must protect its children from the consequences of ignorance — or should we stop mandating child restraints in cars because someone believes it causes lifelong claustrophobia?

Richard Wulfsberg, MD, Studio City

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To the editor: I was disappointed that your front-page article did not mention congenital rubella syndrome in the babies of pregnant women who get measles. Perhaps this problem would get through to the parents who do not get their children vaccinated.

The most famous case of this occurred before a vaccine was available when movie star Gene Tierney gave birth to a mentally disabled child after a fan with measles gave it to her. This tragedy is outlined in her autobiography.

Connie Elliot, Studio City

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To the editor: Barbara Loe Fisher, president of the National Vaccination Information Center, is quoted as saying that one should "be able to make a voluntary choice without being harassed, coerced or punished."

The punishment is having one's child die of measles encephalitis.

Vaccination schedules are based on the sciences of immunology and public health. What science is the decision not to vaccinate based on?

Sandra Canalis, Santa Monica

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