By Anne Dachel
Forget the autism issue. Just go to Google News and look up "Vaccines, Exemptions." It's a really big topic. Parents aren't buying all the claims that vaccines are safe.
Despite a massive effort by health officials and doctors, parents continue to fear that vaccines can do more harm than good. Stories about more parents exempting their children are everywhere. I can't help but notice that there's special concern about the vaccination rates for kindergarten kids. If the youngest students are more likely to be exempted, that can't be good for the vaccine promoters.
And I'm sure the pro-vaccine people don't like to see these stories out there. If more parents are opting out, they may have good reasons. It causes other parents to be concerned too. If they start to really look into the issue, there's plenty of info out there to scare them out of vaccinating.
It's a slow process, but parents are getting the message that an unsafe, unchecked vaccine schedule isn't to be followed blindly.Family Practice News Digital Network: Oregon has highest rate of kindergarten vaccine exemptions
"Oregon has the highest percentage of children enrolled in kindergarten who have been exempted from receiving at least one vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported."
CBS News CDC: Vaccination rates among kindergartners high, but exemptions worrisome
"The state with the highest vaccine rate was Mississippi, with over a 99.9 percent rate reported among kindergarten students. The state with the lowest median vaccine rate was Colorado, with 82.9 percent of kindergartners covered by vaccines."
Vermont ranks high on list of non-medical immunization exemptions
"The percentage of students entering kindergarten who were fully immunized was consistent over the past two years - 86.9 percent in 2012-2013 and 87 percent for the previous year, according to the Department of Health.
"Public schools generally have a higher immunization rate than private schools. The public school with the lowest immunization rate was Barre City Elementary and Middle School with 60.4 percent of the students having received all of the required vaccines."Pa. lags in kindergarten vaccinations
"Some states have nearly 100 percent immunization rates when kids enter kindergarten, but not Pennsylvania, which ranks near the bottom of lists of vaccine coverage by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Just over 85 percent of kindergartners have gotten their chickenpox vaccinations, for example, when schools report data to Pennsylvania health officials in October."
TampaBay.com: Back-to-school vaccine questions are answered
"According to the CDC, exemptions for children entering kindergarten went up in Florida about 20 percent between 2011 and 2012." MI WILX-TV: Why the Sudden Drop in Immunizations?
"The numbers are alarming, only 63 percent of teens have their recommended shots. Two-year-olds are hardly any better, with less than 72 percent getting theirs."CA KQED:
New Efforts Put Pressure on Parents to Vaccinate Kids (Listen to Barbara Loe Fisher (vs three vaccine promoters) speak on this talk radio program)
"Bay Area students are heading back to school this month amid news that an increasing number of parents have opted not to vaccinate their kids. The number of unvaccinated children in California has tripled in the last decade. Nearly 10 percent of kindergartners statewide last year didn't have all of their required immunizations. In Marin Country, only 82 percent of kindergartners were fully vaccinated. To fight this trend, a Marin pediatric practice with 8,000 patients has refused to treat those who aren't vaccinated, public health officials have launched information campaign and a new state law requires parents to consult with a doctor before opting out of vaccines. A well-known bio-ethicist is even proposing lawsuits against parents who refuse to immunize. We talk about efforts to pressure parents to vaccinate their kids. Why are vaccination opt-out rates rising? Will efforts to turn the tide work?" Chicago Sun-Times:
Why do rich people hate vaccines?
"California law mandates that all students get vaccinated, but it also makes it easy to get exemptions for personal beliefs. And parents in tony places like Marin County are taking advantage of it in seemingly growing numbers. One public elementary school in Malibu, an affluent beach town just north of Los Angeles, reported that only 58 percent of their students are immunized - well below the recommended 90-plus percent level - according to Shapiro."
Los Angeles Times: Vaccine debate: The conspiracy theorists vs. reality.
"Although some 90% of the state's kindergartners are up to date on their immunizations, it is not uncommon for individual public elementary schools to report that more than one-third of their kindergartners are not."Daytona Beach News-Journal
: Vaccine debate grows as kids head back to school
"In Volusia County, 91.3 percent of incoming students received vaccinations last year, compared to 92.7 percent for the 2011-12 school year. In Flagler County, 96.6 percent of incoming students received vaccinations, compared to 97 percent in 2011-12. Volusia County falls short of the federal government's goal of a 95 percent vaccination rate. In Volusia County last year, 106 students - about 2 percent - received a religious exemption from vaccinations compared to 28 in Flagler County, or 2.7 percent. The number of children with religious exemptions continues to climb from 2007-08, when less than one percent of children in the two counties fell into that category."OR: Health Departments See Reduced Demand For Vaccinations
"Nguyen said she's aware of a handful of providers in Washington County who are offering families an alternative vaccine schedule - which, like philosophical abstentions, are sometimes recommended by the movement that links certain childhood vaccinations with autism, a link that has been debunked by multiple studies."Nearly 20 Percent of School-Aged Children in Marin Not Vaccinated
"A study by the California Department of Public Health in 2010 found that 80 percent of parents who don't immunize their kids do so because they believe the vaccines pose a health risk."Los Angeles Times: With fewer vaccinations, is your child's school safe?
"Although some 90% of the state's kindergartners are up to date on their immunizations, it is not uncommon for individual public elementary schools to report that more than one-third of their kindergartners are not.
"And if you're thinking this must be a problem unique to schools in low-income neighborhoods, think again. One of Malibu's three elementary schools reported that just 58% of its kindergartners were up to date on their vaccinations, and some other affluent areas throughout the state have schools with similar compliance rates.
"Private schools vary widely, but some have rates of less than 20%. Yes, that's right: Parents are willingly paying up to $25,000 a year to schools at which fewer than 1 in 5 kindergartners has been immunized against the pathogens causing such life-threatening illnesses as measles, polio, meningitis and pertussis (more commonly known as whooping cough). In order for a school to be considered truly immunized, from a public health standpoint, its immunization rate needs to be 90% or higher."Boston NPR: Opting-Out Of Vaccines; Dipping Below Herd Immunity
"A recent piece in Scientific American featured tantalizing graphics - on view above - illustrating this scary trend. According to this analysis, the vaccination rates in some states - Oregon, West Virginia and Colorado, for instance, are shockingly low. So low, in fact, that they've dropped below the "herd immunity" levels (or what is thought to be the safe threshold) for MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and DTP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis)."Fox44 News Burlington (VT):
If No Exemption - Childhood Vaccinations Required for School - Fox44 News Burlington
"More than 87% of Vermont school children get vaccinated every year."
Texas Issues Measles Alert After 9 People Sickened
"Measles is probably the most contagious virus that we know of," said Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. "More importantly, there are an increasing number of children whose parents are delaying immunization or stretching them out, and others who are simply withholding these children from immunizations because of autism."
Schaffner said the autism argument "has been laid to rest scientifically," but parents still believe it and don't vaccinate their children.
For more information on vaccine exemptions, see The National Vaccine Information Center.