Feature Immunization

“Vaccine hesitant” parents affect vaccination rates in some communities

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g1211 (Published 04 February 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g1211
  1. Julie A Jacob, freelance journalist
  1. 1Wisconsin
  1. julieajacob{at}aol.com

Julie Jacob looks at why vaccination rates are falling in some places and what doctors should do to reverse it.

Even though about 95% of children entering kindergarten in the United States have received the immunizations required to start school, children in geographic pockets of the country have lower immunization rates, according to a federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report.1 Physicians and medical groups are working to boost immunization rates in these regions through advocacy and communication to parents who might be reluctant to vaccinate their children because of concerns about side effects or skepticism about the necessity of vaccination.

National immunization rates for children entering kindergarten in 2012-13 were 94.5% for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR); 95.1% for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP); and 93.8% for varicella. However, the CDC reported that, despite the high overall vaccination rate, which hovers around 95%, that the US Department of Health and Human Services set as one of its Healthy People 2020 goals, “low vaccination and high exemption levels can cluster within communities, increasing the risk for disease.”1

Colorado has the lowest vaccination rate: 85.7% for MMR, 82.9% for DTaP, and 84.6% for varicella, according to the CDC. Some other states with vaccination rates for children entering kindergarten below 90% for one or more of the three vaccines include Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania.

Oregon has the nation’s highest non-medical vaccination exemption rate for children, 6.4%, compared with an average non-medical exemption rate …

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