Worried health officials say a small but growing proportion of the youngest children in the US have not been vaccinated against any disease.
They say an estimated 100,000 young children have not had a vaccination against any of the 14 diseases for which shots are recommended.
The numbers come from a telephone survey last year of the parents of about 15,000 toddlers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the numbers Thursday.
100,000 young children have not had a vaccination against any of the 14 diseases for which shots are recommended
The new estimate is based on finding that 1.3 percent of the children born in 2015 were completely unvaccinated.
That’s up from the 0.9 percent seen in an earlier assessment of kids born in 2011.
The researchers didn’t ask why parents didn’t get their kids vaccinated.
Young children are especially vulnerable to complications from vaccine-preventable diseases.
A common stance among the anti-vaccination community is that, if their child does get sick, they will medicate then, rather than injecting them with something now.
Dr Robert M Jacobson, a pediatrician and former medical director for the Population Health Science Program at Mayo Clinic, says the irony is that vaccines are much more rigorously checked for side effects than any other type of medication.
‘Vaccines are the most tested thing that we as physicians prescribe, because they are being administered to millions of people so there is no room for error,’ Dr Jacobson told DailyMail.com.
‘Vaccines are tested in tens of thousands of people, compared to, say antibiotics to prevent infection from a tattoo, which are tested in hundreds.’
The CDC advises that babies get their first round of vaccines at two months old, unless they are ill, have a chronic illness, or have suffered allergic reactions, in which case their doctor will plan a different approach or delay vaccinating.
Generally, this involves getting five:
- Hepatitis B
These protect against seven diseases:
- diphtheria (which can cause heart failure)
- tetanus (or ‘lockjaw’)
- pertussis (‘whooping cough’)
- Hib (a type of flu that leads to meningitis)
- hepatitis B
- pneumococcal disease
Prior to the existence of these vaccines, thousands of children died a year of these diseases.
Since the mid-20th century, the rate of preventable child deaths has plummeted – a shift largely attributed to the introduction of vaccines.
However, support for vaccines is waning.
Dr Pritish Tosh, MD, an infectious diseases specialist at the Mayo Clinic, told Daily Mail Online that while some anti-vaxxers can survive unscathed, that is largely because their peers are vaccinated.
The further the rate of vaccination drops, he warns, the more endangered our community becomes.
Dr Tosh explains that the strength of many vaccines, such as measles, partly relies on ‘herd immunity’, requiring that the vast majority of each community (at least 90 percent) is protected.
‘When you have some people who are unvaccinated or under vaccinated in a community then we lose some of that herd immunity meaning the populations can be at-risk of infection, even if they were vaccinated.
‘Once you start dropping in that number, you run a risk of re-introducing mumps into a population.
‘Certainly, unvaccinated people get sick but also there will likely be vaccinated people who get sick because the vaccine is not 100 percent effective.’
He warns: ‘The unvaccinated people are amplifying the outbreak then allowing some who are unvaccinated to become sick. This has been seen more and more including in college campuses.’