Co-sleeping, sleep training, breast versus bottle, free-range versus helicopter parenting – these are all hot-button parenting issues. But no parenting issue invokes more division and derision than vaccination.
The difference, pro-vaccinators argue, between the first examples and vaccination is that the decision not to vaccinate impacts more than just one’s immediate family. Unvaccinated children can present a health risk to those too young to be immunized or who are unable to receive vaccines because of allergies or other health issues.
Yet more and more families are opting out of vaccinations. In some states, the number of opt-outs has caused vaccinations to drop below the herd immunity threshold – the proportion of immunized people necessary to prevent widespread transmission of a disease. For some diseases, like measles, as much as 94 percent of the population must be immunized to reach the threshold.
Take measles, for instance. In 2000, the United States declared that measles had been eliminated in the country. “Elimination” is a technical term, meaning that there is no continuous disease transmission in a specific geographic area for 12 months. However, the disease can still be brought over from other countries. From 2002-2007, the number of reported measles cases remained relatively consistent at around 50, with a low of 37 reported cases in 2004.
The number began to increase in 2008, with 140 reported cases. While the following few years saw some back and forth, the past few years have been consistently high. In 2014 the CDC reported 667 cases of measles. 2015 had 189 reported cases – many linked to the
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