The ongoing measles outbreak linked to the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, shines a glaring spotlight on our nation’s growing antivaccination movement and the prevalence of vaccination-hesitant parents. Although the index case has not yet been identified, the outbreak likely started sometime between December 17 and 20, 2014.1,2 Rapid growth of cases across the United States indicates that a substantial percentage of the exposed population may be susceptible to infection due to lack of, or incomplete, vaccination. Herein, we attempt to analyze existing, publicly available outbreak data to assess the potential role of suboptimal vaccination coverage in the population.Erin Allday reports at The San Francisco Chronicle:
Two years ago, Marin County conducted a survey asking parents why they decided not to vaccinate. Parents cited concerns about their children getting too many shots over too short a period of time as their primary worry, followed by doubts about the safety of newer vaccines. They said they were “unsure” whether vaccines could cause autism — a claim, long debunked, that’s held firm since a single study noting a possible ink was published in the 1990s.
That one study often is blamed for much if not all of the vaccine resistance still reported in the United States. But Sharon Kaufman, a UCSF medical anthropologist, said the issue also is tied deeply to major cultural and societal shifts that have happened over the past two decades.
Americans are much less trustful of government and major corporations, especially so-called Big Pharma, than they once were. Parents have seen medical science shift and change course over time — solid facts about diet and nutrition change from year to year, and drugs once deemed safe are pulled from the market.
Plus, in a break from past practice, patients are now encouraged to take responsibility for their own health and work with their doctor in a partnership, not taking advice blindly and without question.
“Skeptical parents are practicing the strong, practical values of our society today. This is one of the great ironies,” Kaufman said. “They’re aware of market-driven Big Pharma, they’re aware that scientific truths are unsettled. This is the land they dwell in, in which they have to make decisions.