Discovering YOU Magazine April 2018 Issue - Page 14

HEALTH MATTERS

Childhood Vaccine Rates

Increase but More Parents

Also are Refusing

Article by BCBSA

(BPT) - Childhood and adolescent vaccination is considered by many to be one of the greatest public health accomplishments of the 20th century but based on the results of a new study by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), there is still more work to do to ensure children and teens are protected against the diseases vaccines were developed to eradicate.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield: Health of America Report shows childhood vaccination rates climbed 12 percent among young commercially insured members. Data shows 69 percent of young BCBS members born in 2010 were up-to-date on their CDC-recommended vaccinations by the age of 2 years and 3 months compared to 77 percent of children born in 2013.

The study also found that the rate of documented vaccine refusal - in other words, doctors charting parental refusal of vaccines for their children - went up by nearly 70 percent for children born in 2013 compared to those born in 2010 (4.2 percent versus 2.5 percent, respectively). The result of vaccine refusal can be dangerous, not only for the child who is vulnerable to diseases like

measles and diphtheria, but for the community at large.

It played itself out in Minnesota last year, when a measles outbreak in the Twin Cities exceeded the total number of cases reported in the entire U.S. the year before. Health officials didn't have to look far for the cause. Spread of the highly infectious disease started in the state's Somali-American community.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, the vaccination rate among Somali-American children dropped from the high 80s to a low of 42 percent last year in response to the anti-vaccine movement's targeting efforts, fueling the outbreak. But the disease wasn't confined to the Somali community. It spread throughout the Minnesota public school system as well, infecting non-vaccinated children.

The disease is nothing to take lightly. At the low end, it causes fever, runny nose, cough, sore throat and a rash but it can be