Call it the Jenny McCarthy Effect. Call it the result of a very gullible American public. Or just blame it on the lack of pro-science voices in the media. Either way, more kids than we ought to be comfortable with don’t have their vaccinations. In fact, according to new federal data, the percentage of kids under age 2 who don’t have any of their shots has quadrupled since 2001.
Here’s what we know: In 2001, 0.3% of kids under 35 months old didn’t have any of their recommended vaccinations. That number is now 1.3%.
What does that mean in terms of raw numbers?
Assuming the same proportion of children born in 2016 didn’t get any vaccinations, about 100,000 children who are now younger than 2 aren’t vaccinated against 14 potentially serious illnesses, said Amanda Cohn, a pediatrician and the CDC’s senior adviser for vaccines. Even though that figure is a tiny fraction of the estimated 8 million children born in the past two years who are getting vaccinated, the trend has officials worried.
It’s problematic because vaccine efficacy depends on as many people as possible having the shots so a virus can’t spread. Yet outbreaks have occurred precisely because of a lax approach to immunization and parents wrongly thinking they know better than doctors what’s best for their kids regarding vaccinations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also points to health insurance as leading to the problem. If your family can’t afford it, you’re more likely to go unvaccinated… even though free options are available.
The new data shows health insurance plays a significant role, as well. About 7 percent of uninsured children in this age group were not vaccinated in 2017, compared with 0.8 percent of privately insured children and 1 percent of those covered by Medicaid.
Those differences are concerning because uninsured and Medicaid-insured children are eligible for free immunizations under the federally funded Vaccines for Children program.
“Parents may not be aware of this, so this may be an education issue,” Cohn said.
Another problem is that many states give anti-vaxxer parents a loophole so their kids can attend school. Instead of only allowing that for kids with medical reasons to avoid the shots, religious and philosophical reasons are acceptable as well.
The fact is: Not getting your kids vaccinated is a form of abuse. Those parents are putting their kids at risk — not to mention all the rest of us. We routinely condemn parents who treat kids’ diseases with prayer rather than taking them to medical professionals, and this is really the same idea.
The people who oppose vaccines don’t have good reasons for doing it. They’re just gullible enough to believe the lies. It’s up to government officials to take a stand, eliminate non-medical exemptions to the rules, and make it all but impossible for kids to enter school without having had their shots. Anything less is a health hazard for everyone.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link)