Is Your Child Safe From Antivaccine Activists?

from The Wall Street Journal,

Measles, all but eradicated by 2000, threatens a comeback.

Today’s parents worry constantly about the kids: What are they doing, seeing, saying, eating? Is that shampoo safe? Are they watching too much television? Thanks to antivaccine campaigners, add measles to the list. In 2000, doctors were celebrating that measles essentially had been eradicated in the U.S. Even people who could not safely receive the vaccine, such as newborns, were protected by what’s known as “herd immunity.” When a large portion of a population is immunized, there are few potential carriers to spread the disease, which shields everyone. But a study published last week in JAMA Pediatrics shows how quickly herd immunity can break. The researchers estimated that a 5% reduction in measles vaccination in the U.S. could triple the number of cases annually among children 2 to 11. “The numbers would be substantially higher,” they write, “if unvaccinated infants, adolescents, and adult populations were also considered.” This is alarming when you consider how many parents are now skipping their children’s vaccines. Between 2009 and 2013, nonmedical exemptions for school immunizations increased by 19%, according to a 2014 study in the American Journal of Public Health. The exemption rate for kindergartners in Oregon was 6.4%; in Vermont, 5.7%; in Wisconsin, 5.4%. Parents who cite religious, philosophical or personal objections to vaccination are like conscientious objectors in the war on disease. But they are putting their friends and neighbors at risk because they have fallen for antivaccine propaganda.

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