California Measles Outbreak Is the Worst in 2 Decades

Doctors say the main cause is that more parents choose not to have children vaccinated.
3:00 | 04/01/14

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Transcript for California Measles Outbreak Is the Worst in 2 Decades
We turn now to a health emergency that's hitting both coasts. A measles outbreak in Orange county, California, officials are saying that the outbreak is the worst that they've seen in two decades and the main reason is that more and more parents are choosing not to get their kids vaccinated. ABC's Abbie Boudreau has the story. Reporter: Steve and Victoria are part of a small but growing minority. Parents who choose not to vaccinate their children calling it a personal choice. We told them no vaccinations right off the bat. Reporter: The couple and their 2-year-old twin daughters live in Orange county, California, where there are 21 confirmed cases of measles so far this year. That's more than the number of total cases just four for all of California this time last year. And this year authorities already confirmed 49 measles cases throughout the state and in 14 of those, the patients were intentionally not vaccinated. This is a preventable disease. If children get it, it's serious. Reporter: California is one of several states that allows parents to turn down vaks nations for personal beliefs. Fewer people that are vaccinated, the more likely the disease will spread. Reporter: The couple say they will eventually get their daughters vaccinated but not until they're older and stronger. And say they feel the measles outbreak in California is being overblown. We feel that we're making these decisions on our own and we'll take responsibility for them. Reporter: For "Good morning America," Abbie Boudreau, ABC news, Los Angeles. And we want to bring in our chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser an Dr. Besser, what do you make of this measles outbreak. Well, you know, what it says is that even though we eliminated measles in this country decades ago we're still at risk and there are 20 million cases around the globe every year so every time we travel there's risk. Every time someone comes here there's risk and I worry parents who delay or don't vaccinate their kids put their children at risk but everyone else, as well. Parents are delaying or not getting these vaccines but isn't this a personal decision. You know, they're delaying for a number of reasons. Some are delaying because they think there are too many vaccines. Some don't believe in vaccination or that there's risk from December and others are still concerned about autism, even though scientists have disproven that and the damage from celebrities who push that theory just continues today. But in terms of personal decision, when you vaccinate you protect your own child but you also protect children under 1 who can't get vaccinated yet. People with cancer who are at risk and then people who are vaccinated where the vaccine didn't take hold so it's more than a personal decision. All right, so Dr. B., what's the takeaway? What do parents need to know? I think they need to understand that measles is serious, that there's still a risk and if their children haven't had two vaccines yet they should get them. Get the shot. Dr. Richard Besser, we thank

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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