The measles outbreak in the nation has been on the rise for the past two years, but is nearly at epidemic proportions now. http://www.cdc.gov/measles/cases-outbreaks.html There are 141 cases of measles in 17 states so far in 2015. This chart from the CDC shows the states which have the most outbreaks of measles.
Measles, is a preventable childhood disease for which an immunization (a shot) is usually given to a child when the child reaches nineteen to thirty-five months of age. Measles causes red spots, fever, and in some cases can result in death. This article reviews changes in childhood immunization patterns, which were reported for all fifty states in Unraveling U.S. Healthcare-A Personal Guide, published in 2013. Information is drawn from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is inclusive of 2013 calendar year data. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6334a1.htm?s_cid=mm6334a1_e#Tab1
In 2011, the national immunization rate for children between the ages of nineteen and thirty-five months was 83.34% for all recommended childhood vaccinations. In 2013, the immunization rates for the same age-group of children and the same vaccines had dropped to 83.07%.
Here are the states with the lowest rate of immunization for these diseases as of the end of the reporting year for 2013, as compared to the national average. As you can see, the western states do poorly for immunization compliance, as reported in my 2013 health scorecards. The one bright spot is Utah, which matches the national average for the top three vaccines. The outlier in the group is Vermont, which has achieved the dubious designation as the state with the lowest rate of childhood immunizations. And though much of the country seems to ignore the District of Columbia, seat of our nation's capitol, it has a better vaccination rate than the national average, at 86.7% penetration versus 83.07%. Here is information from the table, showing the worst states for immunizing their children:
|Children's Health Scorecard-2013||National Average||Oregon||Montana||Wyoming||New Mexico||California||Colorado||Alaska||Vermont|
|Notes: Negative number means performance is worse than the national average.|
|Immunization rate is for Heb B only.|
rates are from the Centers for Disease Control for 2013 year
In short, this is the reason there are large outbreaks of childhood diseases now. An immunization is a preventive dose to activate the body's immune system to the disease vector. In order to have adequate protection for a population, which means a community, a school, a state, the majority of the population has to become immunized. In the United States, especially on the west coast, we are in danger of losing our herd immunity, which is a scientific term that means the actions of a significant minority can imperil the entire population. The standards for public health in the United States and all developed nations are based on scientific data, using gold-standard studies and analysis, not spurious opinions of the uniformed in social media. The recommended immunizations for children in the above age-group are as follows:
In 2003, a population-based case-control study in Italy, published results which found that childhood exposure to two infections significantly increased the likelihood of a child contracting Type I Diabetes. Infections which were reviewed in the study included; pertussis (whooping cough), varicella (chicken pox), rubella, parotitis, and morbilli. Here are the findings of the study:
1. The statistically significant finding with no confounding variables, showed that children in the Abruzzo region of Italy who were exposed to two of the childhood viruses listed, had a higher incidence of Type I Diabetes compared to the population who had been exposed to a single childhood infection.
2. Children who had been exposed to only one of the listed childhood infections did not show an increased incidence of contracting Type I Diabetes.
3. Childhood immunizations were also analyzed as risk factors for contracting Type I Diabetes and there was no statistical increase shown in the incidence of juvenile diabetes for the immunized children.
4. However, for children who had received the pertussis (whooping cough) and MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccinations, a significant decrease was found in the contraction of childhood Diabetes.
My brother, Russell was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when he was three years old, three months after his exposure to chicken pox. He had also been exposed to mumps within the year, by his school-age siblings (including moi). Unfortunately, this event was due to the fact immunizations were typically provided through the school at the time of enrollment, so children younger than school age were at risk. Russell died at 42 years of age, following multiple organ transplants, and amputations all related to Type 1 Diabetes.
To all parents who think they are "boosting their child's immune system" by avoiding immunizations, do take the long term view and consider all adverse consequences. This article of course, is written for those whom do base their decisions on scientific evidence. Considering the low-level of science readiness in our national population, as compared to other countries, perhaps this issue will ultimately be decided through tort action in the courts. The CDC clearly states these immunizations prevent 722,000 deaths over a lifetime, so the parents whom are abdicating these preventive measures must be assuming some other child or relative will be in that statistic and not their own. Truly it is just a question of time before the actions of one parent bring irreparable illness to the lives of others, which is similar to driving a vehicle without auto insurance. Considering that many of those eschewing immunizations are patrons of the well heeled in private schools, this population is an easy target for social responsibility through the courts.
And this is the healthpolicymaven signing off, encouraging all to share this article virally, just as childhood diseases are spreading through our population.
Roberta Winter is the author of http://www.amazon.com/Unraveling-U-S-Health-Care-Personal/dp/1442222972#
Roberta E. Winter is a graduate of the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine and the Evans School of Public Affairs. She has spent the past 12 years advocating for consumer issues in health care.