Overprotective Parents Gone Over the Edge — Vaccine Hysteria Endangering the Rest of US
In the spirit of accommodation, states have expanded the criteria for parents to opt out of children’s vaccinations. Some states require a note from a physician and/or clergyman; some require a signed statement of objection from the parents; in some states, parents need only check a box. Two states - Mississippi and West Virginia - allow only medical exemptions, attested by a physician. The National Vaccine Information Center, “grassroots activists working to protect and expand vaccine exemptions,” has compiled a state-by-state list: ( nvic.org).
Not surprisingly, in states with “easier” opt-out procedures, more parents have opted out. In 2011, 3.3% of parents opted out for non-medical reasons in states with “easy” exemption policies; 1.3% in states with more stringent ones. Yet in all states, the number of parents sparing their children shots, but exposing them to disease, has grown. (“Vaccination Policies and Rates of Exemption from Immunization, 2005-2011,” Correspondence, New England Journal of Medicine, Sept. 20.) In Washington State, in 2008, 7.6% of kindergarten parents opted out. The new norm seems to be a parental “no” to vaccines.
The result: again not surprisingly, a resurgence of once-rare childhood diseases.