Growing number of American children not vaccinated

A vial of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine.                        CHARLIE NEIBERGALL AP

Using data from the National Immunization Survey-Child, the CDC report published Thursday found that in 2017, "the percentage of children with no vaccinations by age 2 years increased from 0.9% for children born in 2011 to 1.3% for those born in 2015". A 2001 survey with a different methodology suggested the proportion was in the neighborhood of 0.3 percent.

The rates climb closer to 95% once children get to kindergarten, since most public school systems require most parents to vaccinate their children. The CDC report does not offer a reason that explains the increase of the number of children who have not received a vaccine.

Still, coverage in this age group surpassed 90% for a number of vaccines, including poliovirus, Hepatitis B, varicella, and measles, mumps and rubella. The new estimate is based on finding that, in 2017, 1.3 percent of the children born in 2015 were completely unvaccinated.

Some diseases, like measles, have made a return in the United States because parents in some areas have failed or chosen not to vaccinate their children.

In recent years, measles outbreaks have flared up in several USA cities, mostly affecting people who had not been vaccinated.

A significant minority of them did not have health insurance coverage.

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Toddlers living in non-metropolitan areas had lower coverage by 2.6 to 6.9 percentage points for most vaccines compared with their urban counterparts.

Some families do not have health insurance to cover the shots needed (children without insurance can receive vaccines for free under government immunization programs).

The median percentage of kindergartners with an exemption from one or more required vaccines was 2.2% (range = 0.1% [Mississippi] to 7.6% [Oregon]), compared with 2.0% during the 2016-17 school year. But the report noted "this was the third consecutive school year that a slight increase was observed".

The overall percentage of children with an exemption was low, 2.2 percent. "It seems that in recent years, exemptions are going up, and the trend is likely due to parents refusing to vaccinate", he said.

"Measles was virtually eliminated in the USA after the vaccine became widely available in the 1960s". Nevertheless, it increases the risk of infectious disease outbreaks in schools and among children, where such diseases are easily preventable from vaccination. Some believe that it stems from the choice of the parents who do not wish to have their kids vaccinated.

Earlier this year, researchers from several Texas academic centers identified "hotspots" where outbreak risk is rising in 12 of the 18 states that allow nonmedical exemptions because a growing number of kindergartners have not been vaccinated.

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