According to a governmental study, the great majority of American children are vaccinated by the time they reach kindergarten age, but it turns out that preventable diseases are still a threat in regions with unprotected children.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study revealed that the number of vaccination exemptions have been at a new time low in 2014 on a national level, with just 1.7 percent of American parents of kindergartners trying to get around the laws requiring children to be vaccinated.
Average rates vary, however, with some states reporting over 6 percent of parents applying for exemptions, as reported in the study published Thursday.
A press release with Dr. Anne Schuchat, head of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, explained that the children who miss vaccinations are not just a health danger for themselves, but for the communities they live in, because they create pockets where outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases can easily start.
After the recent measles outbreak that occurred at Disneyland in Anaheim leaving 100 people sick, more than 10 states – including California – are starting to grasp the importance of tightening the laws around school vaccination exemptions.
A schedule of vaccines is mandatory in all states, and children have to check them before they enroll in the first grade. Exemptions from vaccines for medical reasons are allowed in every state, and all but West Virginia and Mississippi will also allow children to be exempted on religious grounds.
Overall, U.S. measles vaccination rates are high, with 94 percent of kindergarten-age children on schedule with their shots. The outbreak could’ve hit a lot harder in U.S. schools if that weren’t the case. But the Disneyland outbreak hasn’t spread like it did in Canada, for example, where it made more victims “because of a big pocket of undervaccinated people.”
High vaccination rates are very important because they are the basis for herd immunity. By keeping them high, the virus is stopped from reaching individuals of the community who are too young or too sick to be vaccinated themselves.
The CDC report included data on 45 states, with six of them indicating an average rate of unvaccinated kindergartners due to exemptions lower than 1 percent, and eleven states reporting the rate to higher than 4 percent.
Vaccine exemptions hit a new low in Mississippi, the state that registered a median of 0.1 percent, while Idaho was on the highest end with 6.5 percent. Schuchat said another encouraging statistic is in regard to vaccine information that’s made available to residents online, an effort that is increasingly prevalent with 21 states already doing so.
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