Growing Number Of U.S. Children Not Getting Vaccines, CDC Warns

The number of children under the age of two who are not receiving recommended vaccines has quadrupled over the past two decades, according to the findings of a new study. 

Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conclude that the number of children who aren’t receiving much needed vaccinations is increasing. The data was published October 12, in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, focusing on vaccination coverage among children aged 19-35 months in the United States.

While the majority of children are still receiving the needed vaccinations, data indicates children missing out on vaccines for serious diseases is becoming a growing trend.

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Overall, 90% of children under the age of two in the U.S. are covered by at least three doses of polio vaccines, one dose of measles mumps and rubella (MMR), three doses of hepatitis B, and one dose of varicella. However, the proportion of children who did not received needed vaccinations by 24 months increased since 2003.

In 2003, roughly 0.3% of children weren’t vaccinated. By 2011, that number increased to 0.9%. However, the newest data from 2015 indicates the number of children not vaccinated rose to 1.3%.

This translates to about 100,000 children in the U.S. who aren’t vaccinated against 14 serious, but preventable, diseases. This is only a small number of the 8 million children born in the last two years, yet it still indicates an increasing trend against vaccination.

Many researchers point to the importance of herd immunity to help protect the general public from serious diseases. Herd immunity occurs when a high percentage of the general population is protected from the disease through vaccines. Since some people will always be vulnerable due to an inability to take vaccines due to health reasons, it makes the spread of the virus or bacteria more difficult since few people are susceptible to the infection and those who are susceptible are less likely to be exposed.

Once the proportion of immunity begins to drop, more people are susceptible, making it easier for the virus or bacteria to spread through the population, sickening more people. The proportion of the population that must be immunized to achieve herd immunity is different for each disease. But when a large proportion of the population is immunized this helps to protect more people in the long run.

Another recent CDC study focusing on vaccinations among children in kindergarten indicated about 95% of children in the U.S. received state-required vaccinations. The data concludes more older children are getting the needed vaccinations.

Vaccination coverage among kindergartners is much higher. However, there still is a tendency by many parents to forgo vaccines.

Some parents simply choose not to vaccinate their children from fear it may cause serious side effects. Other parents want to vaccinate their children, but simply are unable to because they lack needed health insurance or have other limiting factors.

Researchers emphasize schools should follow up with students who are provisionally enrolled and awaiting vaccinations, who are in a grace period or lacking complete documentation of required vaccinations to ensure every child receives the needed vaccines.

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