An outbreak in measles led to Sen. Charles Schumer Sunday calling on the Centers for Disease Control to offer free vaccination shots for children and adults.
Schumer said the CDC should treat the vaccination for measles-mumps-rubella, which mostly had been a scourge of the past, like it does the flu, where shots are free, widely available and publicized. He wants to see vaccines and booster shots offered in schools, health clinics and possibly pharmacy chain stores.
"They do a great job on flu, which is not eradicated," Schumer, who had measles as a child, said of the CDC. "So we want them to do the same thing with measles, which they are very capable of doing."
The CDC did not respond to a request for comment. A measles outbreak at Disneyland spurred a debate about parents who decline vaccinations for their children over debunked claims about a link with autism. New York allows for a valid medical or religious exemption.
When asked about efforts to expand exemptions for philosophical reasons, Schumer said parents should be convinced of vaccinations' benefits.
"My view is, every parent, unless there's an unusual health situation, should have their child vaccinated and I think we can educate people to do that," he said.
The U.S. saw more than 600 measles cases last year, by far the highest number since at least 2001, according to the CDC. There were 200 in 2013 and this year there are already 102 cases recorded in 14 states, including New York.
"Measles is highly contagious, it's not like Ebola," Schumer said. "You sneeze or cough and it's in the air for two hours. So on subways you can catch it very easily, which you can't with Ebola."
But New York City does well inoculating its kids. In 2013, 96.8% of children age 19-35 months got at least one dose of the MMR vaccine, higher than the CDC's 95% target rate; the rest of New York State fell below that goal with 94.2%, according to the agency's National Immunization Survey.