The anti-vaccine movement picked up steam in the late '90s when a now-widely discredited study was published in The Lancet claimed a significant link between autism rates and childhood vaccinations [source: Mooney]. Back then, few people were freaking out about diseases like measles, polio and pertussis (whooping cough) because – for the most part – they had ceased to exist in the developed world. Although the study that really ignited this hysteria was retracted by The Lancet , many people continue to leave their kids unvaccinated, even as some previously rare diseases are now making a comeback [source: Helmuth]. In 2000, measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, by 2014, there were 644 cases in the country and an even higher final total is expected for the outbreak in 2015 [source: Bernstein and Dennis].
Conspiracy theorists purport that vaccines remain dangerous -- the government is "in on it" with the pharmaceutical industry, providing funding and mandating these immunizations with the intention of turning a tidy profit and other nefarious goals [source: Severyn].
Now, I'm not saying that the government is all sunshine, puppies and roses. However, it seems unlikely that elected officials and the best scientific minds in the world (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and the like) are all so under the spell of Big Pharma that they're choosing to poison our kids and look the other way. Especially when it is well-known that these vaccine-preventable diseases often cause severe illness or death if contracted.