Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


US county bars unvaccinated children from public spaces amid measles emergency

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 28 March 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l1481

Linked opinion

Measles in America—what’s playing out in New York State is nightmarish

Rapid Response:

Re: Joel Harrison (measles is not Ebola)

I have just seen the letter from Joel Harrison [1], dated 31 March but perhaps only recently published. I do not intend to respond to most of it but I thought I should respond at least to three adjoining sentences:

"Stone writes: “Measles is not identified by the US government as a disease which requires quarantining.”

"True; but neither is Ebola; yet quarantine was invoked. Until recently, thanks to Stone and other antivaccinationists, measles had been declared ended in the U.S."

I do note that while Harrison attributes to myself and others the elimination of measles in the United States he also calls me an "antivaccinationist". What I am against is the vaccine lobby, and I very much regret to the polarised nature of the debate which has been falsely created by the lobby, which obfuscates many issues. Perhaps treating measles as if it is Ebola is one of them - a grotesque distortion of health policy, as well as a threat to human liberty. If we make vaccination compulsory for every disease which is notionally preventable, where does this end? In the case of measles - and several others - it might anyway be more true to call them "vaccine discourageable" rather than "vaccine preventable".

We should also ask, if we are arriving at the point where no one may criticise vaccine science, how can we have good science?

Finally, regarding Harrison I draw to readers attention my published submission to the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee inquiry into anti-microbial resistance last year (paragraphs 4-5 and footnote 10) [2].

[1] Joel A Harrison, 'Re: US county bars unvaccinated children from public spaces amid measles emergency (Response to John Stone)', 31 March 2019,


Competing interests: No competing interests

13 April 2019
John Stone
UK Editor
London N22