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Healthline: This Is What Happens When Children Don’t Get Vaccinated

By Brian Krans

Diseases such as measles and chickenpox are seeing a resurgence because of an increasing number of parents who opt out of vaccinating their children, officials say.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the percentage of 2-year-olds who have never received a single vaccination has quadrupled since 2001, reaching 1.3 percent of children born in 2015.

While that’s still a relatively low number, it does reflect a change.

There appears to be distrust in vaccinations in a generation who may not have any firsthand knowledge of the diseases routine shots prevent. This includes the once-common chickenpox and measles.

Herd immunity — when large swaths of the population are immunized — is one of the best defenses humanity has against diseases like measles, which are easily spread through sneezing and coughing.

Dr. Christopher Harrison, director of both the infectious disease research laboratory and vaccine and treatment evaluation unit at Children’s Mercy-Kansas City, says that anti-vaccine groups promote fear of vaccines through various media, enlisting the help of celebrities and politicians.

This, he says, can put families in a conflicted position.

Parents who want to do what’s best for their children may be reluctant because they’ve heard “the non-science-based ‘information’ or opinions, and have difficulty differentiating ‘junk data’ from real scientifically based data,” he said.

“They have usually not seen the suffering and complications from vaccine-preventable diseases,” Harrison told Healthline. “They usually do know or have heard of someone who claims that vaccines were the cause of some problem that is a better known or more prevalent condition for which a defined cause is not well described, i.e. autism.”

Children who have autism aren’t an abstract concept, Harrison says, while vaccine-preventable diseases usually are abstract and distant. So, some families may decide to avoid vaccines to reduce their immediate and longer-term worries.

Officials say there’s been an increase since 2001 in the number of young children who have never received a vaccination.

They say many of these parents grew up in a world where once-common chickenpox and measles are rare.

This lack of firsthand knowledge as well as unscientific information about vaccination side effects may be fueling this trend, they say.


Read the full story via Healthline

Learn more about Infectious Diseases at Children's Mercy