Declining Vaccination Rates In The US: More Parents Believe Vaccines Are Unnecessary In Their Children’s Health

Numerous parents in the United States are refusing to take their children to pediatricians to get them vaccinated. These moms and dads believe that their kids don't need immunization from viruses and vaccinations are unnecessary.

A new survey published in the journal Pediatrics this week found that in 2013, 87 percent of pediatricians in the U.S. encounter parents who refuse vaccinations for their children. In 2003, that rate was only 75 percent.

Dr. Kathryn Edwards, a pediatrician and director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program, said parents believe that vaccines aren't important to their kids' health, STAT News reported. Because of this, recent upticks in mumps and measles cases have been recorded, with the decline in vaccination rates as its primary reason.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a guide titled "2016's Recommended Immunizations for Children from Birth Through 6 Years Old." Vaccines protect kids from a bunch of diseases such as chicken pox, diphtheria, hepatitis A and B, influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, polio, pneumococcus, rotavirus, rubella, and tetanus.

The survey also found that there are fewer parents who believe that vaccines and its thimerosal content cause autism in children. Thimerosal is a mercury-based compound that was used to preserve multi-dose vaccines and prevent them from getting contaminated.

Thimerosal was removed or reduced from childhood vaccines between 1999 and 2001 to lower kids' exposure to mercury. Some flu vaccines, however, still have thimerosal in them, according to the CDC.

The survey's authors said autism concerns from parents have declined from 74 percent in 2006 to 64 percent in 2013. The drop in autism concerns was largely attributed to scientific research and the succeeding media coverage.

Plenty of doctors have reached the limit of their patience in dealing with parents who refuse vaccinations for their children. In 2013, 12 percent of pediatricians advised parents to find another doctor if they don't want to have their kid vaccinated. That rate was only six percent in 2006, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The vaccinate-or-leave approach, however, was intended as a last resort. The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement titled "Countering Vaccine Hesitancy" earlier this week that accompanies the new survey. The policy statement is loaded with information and guidelines to assist pediatricians in the U.S. in their dealings with parents who refuse vaccinations. Dr. Alison Ziari, chief of pediatrics at the Austin Regional Clinic in Texas, said majority of parents agreed to child vaccinations and maintain them after they had lengthy and informative discussions with physicians.

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