Anyone born in the 1960’s and later — the so-called Generation X and Millennial Generation — are lucky to have never experienced polio or measles. Those diseases were eradicated, for the most part, by the introduction of vaccines in the 1950’s. Vaccines were also developed for mumps and rubella, given together as MMR, and diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough) and tetanus, given as DPT. The incidences of these diseases were negligible — until recently, that is. An outbreak of measles in New York City and Orange County, California, a whooping cough outbreak throughout the state of California and an outbreak of mumps in Columbus, Ohio (around the campus of Ohio State University) are warning signs that this generation may not be protected.
Your Denver medical malpractice attorney explains that vaccination compliance rates must be very high — up to 95 percent for some diseases — in order to establish what is known as “herd immunity.” Herd immunity is the protection provided by an entire community to a handful of people who cannot be vaccinated, for example, due to a medical condition. In most of the United States, 95 percent of incoming kindergartners are in compliance with vaccine guidelines for MMR and DPT vaccines. However, California has compliance rates of 92.7 percent for MMR, and 92.5 percent for DPT — which helps to explain the recent outbreaks of whooping cough (pertussis). Colorado has the worst compliance rates in the nation, with 85.7 percent for MMR, and 82.9 percent for DPT.
Why Are Compliance Rates So Low?
Health officials attribute such low compliance rates to the antivax movement. Strongest among highly educated, higher paid, liberal-leaning individual who are deeply concerned with everything non-organic and potentially hazard, this movement largely rests on anecdotal stories from parents who are convinced that their children became ill from vaccines. In actuality, the onset of autism, ADHD, or whatever medical condition the child suffers from typically occurs at 12—18 months, which is the same time that most inoculations occur. There may be a correlation, but not a causation.
Although many public schools and day care centers require immunizations to be current, there are exceptions for “religious” or “philosophical” reasons in many states. Antivax parents take advantage of this loophole in order to avoid having their children vaccinated. Contrary to their assertions that their choice is a personal one, however, their lack of compliance destroys herd immunity for everyone. Your Denver medical malpractice attorney points out that with compliance rates as low as they are, Colorado could see outbreaks of measles, mumps and whooping cough. Once nearly eradicated, these diseases could come back and put everyone at risk, including the children of the antivax parents. They, like the rest of the community, did not have a choice.
Of course there is a choice: choose to vaccinate. Better laws and better education about vaccinations will persuade antivaxers to make the right decision. If you would like more information on vaccination guidelines in Colorado, contact the State Health Department. For more information on why vaccines are so important, contact Jordan Levine at Levine Law.