Sunday, October 14, 2012

U.S. States Make Opting Out of Vaccinations Harder

News Brief by Alison Pinkerton

            Many states are now making the option to deny childhood vaccines much more difficult after numerous districts have reported greater numbers of unvaccinated children, according to Tara Haelle of Nature. Her article also points out that along with the popularity of abstaining from vaccines, infection rates are soaring: in 2012, the United States reported the most incidents of pertussis (whooping cough) since 1959. As well, 2011 saw more than two hundred measles patients, a record since 1996.
            These diseases are easily and effectively prevented by the common MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis) vaccines. However, these former silver-bullet solutions have been under attack since The Lancet published an incorrect study blaming childhood vaccinations for autism. The study, over ten years old, still haunts parents today, and many are denying their children the required vaccines for entering public school. All states offer exemptions based on legitimate medical concern, while 20 states offer philosophical/personal exemptions and 48 offer religious exemptions. Parents are taking advantage of these loopholes at an alarming rate – between 2008 and 2010, Californian exemption rates grew by 25%.
            To combat this, state officials are seeking to make procuring an exemption more difficult than scheduling a vaccination appointment. Some viable options include requiring doctor approval for exemption and requiring exemption renewals. With hope, officials believe that these measures will increase vaccination rates and decrease dangerous infections among school-aged children. 

Haelle, Tara. "U.S. States Make Opting Out of Vaccinations Harder." Scientific American. 06 2012: n. page. Web. 10 Oct. 2012. .
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