Despite the fact that we know definitively that vaccines are safe and effective at preventing very serious diseases around the world, vaccination rates in this country continue to fall, and rates of unvaccinated children continue to rise. In recent months, there have been outbreaks of diseases like measles and mumps, both illnesses which can be prevented by a vaccine. But still, some parents continue to cling to the belief that vaccines are dangerous. A recent report by the CDC shows exactly how that fear and disinformation has affected vaccine rates, and it's not great news.
According to the new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the unvaccinated rate among toddlers is on the rise. A survey in 2003 showed that just 0.3% of two-year-olds had not received their vaccinations. However, for children born in 2015, that rate has risen to 1.3%. The CDC says that nearly 50,000 children born in 2015 have not ANY of the recommended vaccines. Remember, those vaccines prevent and protect against 14 very serious diseases, and save countless lives every single year.
So what could be to blame for this increase in the unvaccinated rate? The CDC suggests that rates tend to be lower among children on Medicaid when compared to those whose families use private insurance. That's not to say that there's a very strong connection between vaccination rates and the economic situation in the region; Mississippi is one of the poorest states in the country, and they have one of the highest vaccination rates.
Amanda Cohn is the vaccines advisor of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Cohn says that although we know parental choice plays a major role in vaccination rates, there may also be an issue with access to vaccines (and quality medical care) in some regions.
It's not all bad news, though. While the vaccination rate among toddlers is unnecessarily low, it does increase as kids age. By the time children reach kindergarten, almost 95% of them are up-to-date on their recommended vaccines, in large part because many public school systems in this country require that children have all of their immunizations in order to attend school.