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Trump says people "have to" be vaccinated amid measles outbreak

U.S. measles cases reach highest numbers in 25 years

President Trump appears to have changed his stance on vaccinations amid an ongoing measles outbreak crippling major U.S. cities, telling reporters on Friday that children "have to get their shots." Weighing in on the measles for the first time, Mr. Trump said "They have to get their shots, the vaccinations are so important, this is really going around now. They have to get the shots." 

That message represents a shift from Mr. Trump's past skepticism of vaccines.

The president has tweeted nearly 20 times over the past five years to criticize the way children are vaccinated for common diseases. Currently, the CDC urges parents of young children to protect their child against the measles with a combination vaccine that protects against three diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR). The MMR vaccine is given to a child in one dose between ages 12-15 months and 4-6 years old. 

The president has suggested "spreading" vaccines out "over time"  as opposed to delivering one larger dose. "I am totally in favor of vaccines, but I want smaller doses over a longer period of time," then-candidate Trump said at a 2015 presidential debate. "It looks just like it's meant for a horse not for a child," he added. 

2015 Republican debates: What the GOP candidates had to say about vaccines

He's even supported a common but debunked claim that autism is linked to vaccines, suggesting that doctors give "small dose vaccines vs big pump doses" to bring down autism statistics. He claimed at that same 2015 debate that he knew of a two-year-old child who had received a vaccine and just a week later was diagnosed as autistic. 

"Autism has become an epidemic," then-candidate Trump claimed. "25 years ago, 35 years ago you look at the statistics, not even close." There has been no medical link established between vaccines and autism. 

The CDC reports that since January 2019, individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 22 states -- making it the second-greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since measles was declared to have been eliminated in 2000. 

Nationwide, the government has counted nearly 700 measles cases, roughly three-quarters of them in New York state.