STUDY: more Arizonans opting out of vaccinations

TUCSON, Ariz. - A recent study coming out of the Baylor College of Medicine reveals that more parents in Arizona are not getting their children routine vaccinations. The study, published in the PLOS Medicine Journal, explains that there are 18 states that allow "Non-Medical Exemptions" (NME's) from vaccines. Arizona is one of them.

"Due to parental concerns about vaccine safety and efficacy, many families choose to opt out their children from vaccinations required for school entry by obtaining nonmedical exemptions (NMEs) based on religious or philosophical beliefs."

-PLOS Medicine Journal

The study continues to say,

  • Since 2009, the number of “philosophical-belief” vaccine nonmedical exemptions (NMEs) has risen in 12 of the 18 states that currently allow this policy: Arkansas (AR), Arizona (AZ), Idaho (ID), Maine (ME), Minnesota (MN), North Dakota (ND), Ohio (OH), Oklahoma (OK), Oregon (OR), Pennsylvania (PA), Texas (TX), and Utah (UT).

Tucson based pediatrician Dr. Tien Nguyen explained she finds these new trends unsettling.

"I can't really single one out and say that none of them are important, because all of them are important," Nguyen said. "We have created vaccines that can prevent children from dying."

Every so often, Nguyen says parents come by her clinic, Desert Pediatrics, who do not want to have their children vaccinated. Typically, they have a concern that vaccines will give their children Autism, or the chemical makeup of the vaccines will be harmful to their kids. Nguyen says that isn't something they should worry about.

"Multiple studies have disproven that vaccines do cause Autism," she said. "As far as the preservatives, they're very minimal, so they shouldn't affect the child at all."

She feels that parents should be aware that by not vaccinating their children, they'll be more at risk for serious illnesses. The recent study cites a statistic in line with her argument:

A child with an NME from the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is 35 times more likely to contract measles than is a vaccinated child.

-PLOS Medicine Journal

Nguyen believes parents have an obligation to get their children vaccinated, to keep them healthy, but also, to keep everyone else's children healthy as well. Even though she's firm on this stance, she won't turn any child away from her clinic if they're not vaccinated.

"We should be there to support the children," she said. "The children aren't able to make these decisions themselves, so I do think it's our duty to watch these children as well."

The study also notes:

NMEs weaken herd immunity that protects the population at large, particularly children who are unable to get vaccinated for medical reasons. The target vaccination coverage rate to achieve the ideal herd immunity is 90% to 95%, depending on the infectious agent.

-PLOS Medicine Journal

If you'd like to read the entire publication, click here.

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