While American children are being vaccinated in record numbers, a survey published in the June issue of Health Affairs reports that 77% of parents have at least one concern about the safety of vaccines. The most common concern among parents – unsurprisingly – is that their children will feel physical pain as a result of getting shots. But the second and third most common worries about vaccines that parents confessed to in the survey reflect the belief that vaccines may be unsafe for children under age 2. 36 percent of parents surveyed “worried that their children were getting too many vaccines in a single visit, while 34 percent fret they are getting too many shots in the first two years,” ABC News reports.
They go on to say, “Concerns of resultant fevers from the vaccines were mentioned by 32 percent, and the fear that the vaccines could cause learning disabilities like autism remains among 30 percent. Others, 26 percent, have a general worry that the ingredients in the vaccines are unsafe, the survey found.” While only 5% of the 376 households surveyed admitted to skipping some vaccines and a mere 2% said they would not vaccinate at all, there is one state where anti-vaccine sentiment is much higher.
Which state leads the nation in an unwillingness to prevent childhood disease through vaccination?
No, it’s not California, despite that fact that whooping cough claimed the lives of several infants there last year. Washington state leads the nation in parent-signed vaccine exemptions at 6.2 percent, “a rate that has more than doubled over the past decade,” according to The Slog, which uses some choice words against the Jenny-McCarthy-worshiping hippies who believe vaccines cause autism. That number comes from the Centers for Disease Control’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Secretary of Health Mary Selecky responded to the news in a prepared statement, saying, “Most of today’s parents weren’t around to see how bad diseases like measles and whooping cough were before vaccines helped bring them under control. We’ve done a good job fending off those diseases with vaccines, but we can’t be complacent; we’re seeing them start to make a comeback and too many of our kids are vulnerable.”
Dr. John Dorsey, a pediatrician in Michigan, says the only way doctors can convince questioning parents to vaccinate their children is by being respectful of their concerns, not condescending towards them. “When people are fearful, the worst thing you can do is be sarcastic, or fear them into doing something,” he says. “If you’re respectful with them, you’ll be more successful than showing death and disfigurations.”
Still, many parents are fed up with those families who choose not to vaccinate, asserting that parents who skip shots put the entire community at risk. Wealthy parents are often the ones choosing not to vaccinate their children, especially in California, where 7 percent of kindergartners in Marin county had a personal belief exemption in 2009. It’s possible that percentage may be even higher now.
What do you think? Should vaccination be mandatory?