Well, letâ(TM)s see. In March, there were 58 cases alone in Brooklyn, N.Y., tied to a Jewish community that refused or delayed vaccinations. In Texas, a megachurch that preached anti-vaccination views had an outbreak with at least 20 cases. In North Carolina, 23 cases were reported in one outbreak; most of them in a religious (Hare Krishna) community that was largely unvaccinated.
There are usually around 60 cases per year. Religion accounts for more than half the rise.
More to the point, why is this article quoting an astronomer? Why not some real internal medicine doctors.
Because debasing irrational belief is a field of its own. Medical doctors can tell you exactly what happend during a vaccination but this is not the kind of things that help convince people to get vaccinated. A normal doctor of medical researcher will just shrug and stop debatting if faced with the regular anti-vaxx comments.
Phil Plait has spent a lot of time comfronting irrational beliefs and that makes him more likely to become a spokerperson for this case.