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Trump says anti-vaxxers 'have to get their shots' despite repeatedly linking vaccinations to autism

The Independent logo The Independent 26/04/2019 Andrew Griffin
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Donald Trump has said people "have to get their shots" in an apparent attempt to encourage vaccinations in the face of a measles outbreak sweeping parts of the US, despite having repeatedly linked vaccinations to autism.

"The vaccinations are so important. This is really going around now," he told reporters outside the White House. "They have to get their shots."

The president was speaking in the wake of a troubling resurgence in the spread of the disease, which was once eradicated. The number of measles cases in the US is now at the highest level since 2000.

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Some 700 cases have been reported this year, and the spread has been largely attributed to misinformation that is turning parents against vaccines.

The warning comes despite the fact that Mr Trump has repeatedly attempted to link vaccinations and autism, in the face of scientific evidence.

He has tweeted about the conspiracy theory more than 20 times, to the dismay of leading scientific groups. Mr Trump also met with leading anti-vaccination campaigners before his election.

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The US's own federal agency, the Centres for Disease Control, has repeatedly urged citizens to ensure that they and their children are vaccinated.

“Credible scientific evidence shows that vaccines are very safe and do not cause autism spectrum disorders (ASD)," it said in a statement last year, amid concern about Mr Trump's links to the anti-vaxx cause.

“CDC, the Federal Drug Administration, and the Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices, regularly review data to ensure that vaccine recommendations are based on the latest available science to provide safe and effective protection against serious diseases. Concerned parents should be reassured that recommended childhood vaccines have a strong safety record.”

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It added: “For the general population, maintaining high vaccination levels is important not only for the individual person but also to protect potentially deadly diseases from spreading to the most vulnerable among us, such as patients with weakened immune systems and newborn children who are too young to be vaccinated.”

The president made the comments as he spoke to reporters before leaving for Indiana, where he will speak at the annual NRA convention. During the same discussion, he referred to himself as "the youngest person" and attacked newly declared Democrat candidate Joe Biden.

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