American Academy of Pediatrics Joins Other Medical Groups to Call for a Ban on Non-Medical Vaccination Exemptions
To some parents, getting their child vaccinated may seem like common sense. Measles have been basically eliminated from the western world because of it and other, once common, childhood diseases now only spring up in a handful of cases each year.
The anti-vaccination movement and non-medical immunization exemptions were typically not an issue for decades. Herd immunity virtually guaranteed that even if one child in a school of 500 was not immunized for whatever reason, they wouldn’t catch one of the ~dozen illnesses that are easily preventable.
Changing attitudes towards vaccines in the last decade has poked a hole in the herd immunity defense humans have enjoyed since the 1950s. Now, even with a 1-2% non-vaccination rate, diseases that were all but eliminated years ago have a viable pathway to a resurgence. Worse yet, parents not vaccinating their children aren’t just putting their own kids at risk, but also the ones who cannot be immunized for medical reasons. These individuals are much more likely to get sick in the first place, which is why denying these illnesses a host is so important to prevent transmission.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, which has always been in favor of vaccinations, is now calling for a repeal of non-medical exemptions. They join organizations such as the American College of Physicians and the AMA in asking Congress to do something about the troubling trend of not vaccinating children.
According to the CDC, 91.5% of children in the U.S. between 1.5 and 3 years old have received their MMR vaccine, down from 92.3% in 2007. Hepatits B vaccines for the same age range have fallen from 92.7% to 91.6% during the same time. While some of those unvaccinated at age 3 will receive vaccines in due time, pre-schools are usually a hotbed of transmission between both children and adults.
The AAP has taken a bold stand with their support of a non-medical vaccination exemption ban, but as a society made primarily of doctors, perhaps they best understand the consequences of letting vaccinations become more optional as opposed to required.