On Friday, President Donald Trump urged parents to vaccinate their children following a report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that the number of measles cases in the country has attained a nearly 20-year high.

“They have to get the shot,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “The vaccinations are so important. This is really going around now. They have to get their shots.”

As of Monday, more than 700 cases of measles have been reported in the United States. This represents the highest number of infections since the disease was first eradicated in 2000.

Trump previously opposed vaccinations. In 2012, he claimed they could sometimes lead to autism in children.

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During a presidential debate in 2015, Trump said he backed a debunked claim that suggests links between vaccines and autism. He cited the example of a 2-year-old girl who was diagnosed with the disorder.

Among the states with the highest numbers of reported measles cases are New York, New Jersey and Washington. In some cases, like those discovered in Rockland County, New York, and in New York City’s Brooklyn borough, the outbreaks have been linked to Orthodox Jewish communities in these areas. Residents of these areas who have refused to vaccinate their children have reportedly received summonses from the city.

There was also a significant number of measles cases reported in 2014: more than 660 were reported nationwide that year.

Full Frontal host Samantha Bee also recently aired a segment on her show about the growing number of young Americans pushing for vaccines to stop the spread of various diseases.

 

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