Map Shows State-by-State Look at Where Kids Aren’t Being Vaccinated

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When it comes to parenting hot topics, perhaps nothing is as divisive as vaccinations.

With so much misinformation out there, thousands of parents are choosing not to vaccinate their kids. But for me, with kids still coming down with “polio-like” illnesses, I’m all for doing whatever I can to limit the spread of deadly viruses.

A new map courtesy of Mother Jones shows just how many people disagree with me. State by state, it gives a break down of how many people in the U.S. are opting not to vaccinate their kids.

Oregon leads the pack with more than 6% of kids reporting vaccination exemptions. Michigan, Idaho, and Vermont aren’t far behind with 5%.

As Jezebel notes, “the numbers reflect kindergartners whose parents checked ‘exempt’ when asked about immunization on school forms. Just because the child was marked exempt doesn’t necessarily mean the child wasn’t vaccinated. Still, that is quite often the case. And in many states, checking a box is all it takes to skip vaccination.”

While many parents sign vaccine exemption forms because they’re anti-vaccine, Tasneem Raja and Chris Mooney report for Mother Jones that a 2012 study shows some parents sign them because it’s easier than just getting their kids vaccinated:

“The study found that an astonishing 49 percent of toddlers born from 2004 through 2008 hadn’t had all their shots by their second birthday, but only about 2 percent had parents who refused to have them vaccinated. They were missing shots for pretty mundane reasons — parents’ work schedules, transportation problems, insurance hiccups. An earlier CDC study concluded that children in poor communities were more likely to miss their shots than those in wealthier neighborhoods, and while that may not be too surprising, it’s still a dangerous pattern.”

According to Jason Glanz, the study’s lead author and an epidemiologist at the Kaiser Permanente Colorado Institute for Health Research, putting off one or two vaccinations won’t necessarily make a big difference. ”But you could also think of it like this,” he said, “if a million kids delay their vaccines by a month, that’s time during which a disease could spread.”

No kidding. It’s something we all saw happen in California in 2010 when more than 9,000 cases of pertussis were reported and ten infants died. Unless there is some medical reason why a child should not be vaccinated, should a child really be allowed to be exempt? The fact that it’s so easy to obtain an exemption shows a huge failure on the part of the government. In addition, when that one kid is not vaccinated based on a parent’s religious belief, the rest of our children are in danger. Your right to your belief ends when it endangers lives.

 Image: MotherJones.com

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