Analysis conducted by The Associated Press found that a rising number of children aren't getting all of the vaccinations recommended by health officials. Half of all states experienced some increase in vaccine rejection, with 8 states reporting that 1 in 20 kindergartners didn't get all of the shots necessary to attend school. The opt-out trend is particularly high in Western and Midwestern states.
Vaccine exemption rules vary by state, and can allow parents to skip their kids' shots for religious, medical or other reasons. Some parents feel that kids get too many shots too quickly: By the time children are 6, it's recommended that they have received about two dozen vaccines. Others question whether some of the recommended shots are really necessary or feel that newer offerings aren't as important as some of the established vaccines. Concerns about vaccine safety persist despite evidence that proves that few negative side effects are associated with vaccines.
Health officials are particularly concerned about states that have an exemption rate of 5% or more, as well as small communities where unvaccinated rates are even higher. If an outbreak occurs in an unvaccinated group it could put vaccinated kids at risk as well. "Your child's risk of getting disease depends on what your neighbors do," Emory University epidemiologist Saad Omer told the AP. The report points to an increase in outbreaks of whooping cough and measles in recent years as a result of vaccine exemption.
- read the AP article