Part 2: Understanding what’s causing rates of vaccine refusal

I wonder about the number of children who were not inoculated — even vaccinated — since the vaccinations were refused or denied. With some states requiring proof of parental consent before an infant is vaccinated for most diseases, and some people refusing any vaccines for some childhood diseases, I’m curious about the degree to which such people tend to infect each other. …

Then I turn to the statistics. The most telling thing about the vaccination rate in Imperial County is the present large disparity between a strong norm and dramatic variation. It’s very hard to isolate vaccine-refusal from the other factors we’ve described. This is because the reaction to vaccines is entirely social, and actually quite fascinating when you think about it. Most parents are good people, but every parent makes his or her own contribution to vaccination decisions. While it’s hard to know the exact impact on vaccination rates from large numbers of parents refusing vaccines, I can tell you that vaccination has a huge impact in the form of immunity. For example, in 2008-2009, 56 children died from polio around the world.

But among the children who survived, most experienced 80 percent immunity for at least seven years. Vaccination turned that situation around. It’s because we’re on the right track of ending polio in this world, and it’s because most people do the right thing. How many of us could’ve used those seven years of vaccine protection? Just think of the number of children who were on their way to a cure for something they no longer had to worry about if we’d all been vaccinated.

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