An Epidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All
Consider: In certain parts of the US, vaccination rates have dropped so low that occurrences of some children’s diseases are approaching pre-vaccine levels for the first time ever. And the number of people who choose not to vaccinate their children (so-called philosophical exemptions are available in about 20 states, including Pennsylvania, Texas, and much of the West) continues to rise. In states where such opting out is allowed, 2.6 percent of parents did so last year, up from 1 percent in 1991, according to the CDC. In some communities, like California’s affluent Marin County, just north of San Francisco, non-vaccination rates are approaching 6 percent (counterintuitively, higher rates of non-vaccination often correspond with higher levels of education and wealth).
That may not sound like much, but a recent study by the Los Angeles Times indicates that the impact can be devastating. The Times found that even though only about 2 percent of California’s kindergartners are unvaccinated (10,000 kids, or about twice the number as in 1997), they tend to be clustered, disproportionately increasing the risk of an outbreak of such largely eradicated diseases as measles, mumps, and pertussis (whooping cough). The clustering means almost 10 percent of elementary schools statewide may already be at risk.
In May, The New England Journal of Medicine laid the blame for clusters of disease outbreaks throughout the US squarely at the feet of declining vaccination rates, while nonprofit health care provider Kaiser Permanente reported that unvaccinated children were 23 times more likely to get pertussis, a highly contagious bacterial disease that causes violent coughing and is potentially lethal to infants. In the June issue of the journal Pediatrics, Jason Glanz, an epidemiologist at Kaiser’s Institute for Health Research, revealed that the number of reported pertussis cases jumped from 1,000 in 1976 to 26,000 in 2004. A disease that vaccines made rare, in other words, is making a comeback. “This study helps dispel one of the commonly held beliefs among vaccine-refusing parents: that their children are not at risk for vaccine-preventable diseases,” Glanz says.
This is an issue that keeps me away from most "autism" groups. I put autism in quotes because too often those groups are actually about the evils of vaccines and how to fix the damage claimed to have been done by those vaccines. What use is any of that to me who does not fear or loathe vaccines and does not have "vaccine injured" children? I'm certainly not interested in the latest outrageously priced "cure" or "treatment" that "they" don't want you to know about. Every time I hear about some supposed autism advocacy group protesting about vaccines I want to scream that these people do not speak for me. But I get tired of having to repeat myself. This is a problem that they don't seem to have as they repeat their fear and loathing of vaccines every chance they get.
Please note that I received no compensation for this post but if someone from Big Pharma wants to turn me into a pharma shill by paying me for not being afraid of vaccines I will happily take a check. (Will this get me into trouble with new FTC rules?)