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KCUR: As Anti-Vax Movement Grows In Missouri, Families With Sick Children Fear For Their Lives

By Alex Smith

Vaccinations not only protect your health, they protect the health of the community by slowing or stopping the spread of illness.

But Missouri now has some of the lowest measles vaccination rates in the nation, and that’s especially troubling for families with children who can’t get the shots for medical reasons.

When Izzy Lightle of Savannah, Missouri, was almost 2, she was diagnosed with leukemia, and doctors put a halt to her getting vaccines.

To stay healthy, she relied on herd immunity, the collective effect when a large majority of people get vaccinated.

The latest survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in 2017, Missouri had the lowest rate among the 50 states for measles, mumps and rubella vaccinations for children between 19 and 35 months: just 85.8 percent.

Experts say herd immunity for measles breaks down when the rate drops below 90 percent.

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Barbara Pahud of Children's Mercy Hospital warns that measles could spread like 'wildfire' in Missouri communities with low vaccination rates.

“At 85 percent, that means we’re dangerously falling from that number,” says Dr. Barbara Pahud, an infectious disease specialist at Children’s Mercy Hospital and an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

“We don’t have an outbreak right now, but you can see it’s surrounding us,” Pahud says. “We’re at risk. It’s just a matter of time for that wind to blow our way and to make that fire catch.”

Experts believe lack of healthcare access and delays in checkups, rather than vaccine skepticism, account for why most kids aren't getting the vaccines.


Read the full story via KCUR

Learn more about Infectious Diseases at Children's Mercy