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U.S. Vaccinations are Up – But is that a Good Thing?

Sick girl with a thermometer on her mouth, hugging a box of tissues.

When it comes to needles and preventive vaccinations, most people prefer to avoid them for a number of personal reasons. Unfortunately, in most cases – children are the ones most at risk and, although U.S. vaccinations are up, it may not necessarily be a good thing. And, while you may be able to avoid getting a shot in the arm – you can no longer avoid having health insurance.

As it turns out, despite a variety of anti-vaccination campaigns, more children are being vaccinated in the U.S. than previously thought. According to a recent report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s estimated that at current rates, vaccination will have prevented 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations, and 732,000 deaths of children who were born between 1994 and 2013.

The findings include the following:

Ninety percent of children less than 3 years of age were vaccinated against polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, and chickenpox last year.
Fewer than 90 percent received the DTaP vaccine to protect against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, or vaccines that are intended to protect against Haemophilus influenzae Type B, pneumococcal disease, hepatitis A, and rotavirus. According to experts, more than 90 percent of children need to be vaccinated to have “herd immunity”, which is the phenomenon that occurs when a large portion of a community is immunized against a contagious disease to protect the community as a whole – resulting in little chance of an outbreak occurring.)
Fewer than 90 percent of children received the hepatitis B vaccine at birth, as recommended.
Only 71 percent of children received the combined vaccination series. These require numerous doses each and include: four doses of DTaP, three doses of polio, at least one dose of measles, mumps, and rubella, three to four doses of Haemophilus influenzae Type B, at least three doses of hepatitis B, one dose of chickenpox, and four doses of pneumococcus. Not receiving the required doses can place the unimmunized children at risk, but also other susceptible children and adults they come in contact with.
Just 0.7 percent of all children received no vaccines at all.

The low number of unvaccinated children aside, a single vaccination in a series or three or four will not protect a child against all diseases, according to Danelle Fisher, MD, vice chair of pediatrics at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica. She continued by stressing that the first shot of the DTaP vaccine will not fully protect a child, but subsequent shots increase protection – and, he or she remains vulnerable after the first shot without the follow up vaccinations.

Although the news that most children in the U.S. get at least one vaccine of protection is somewhat good news, the fact they don’t necessarily get all the ones they need – isn’t.

Furthermore, Fisher is also less than thrilled by the glaring statistic that only 71 percent of children received the combined vaccination series. Without more than 90 percent of children being vaccinated, the goal of achieving herd immunity is not possible.

On the bright side, vaccines have helped dramatically lower and even eradicate occurrences of some once-deadly or life-altering diseases. For instance, polio, a once crippling disease that affected more than 35,000 people in the U.S. each year, was virtually wiped out as a result of mass vaccinations in the late 1970s. But, the way to ward off the return of polio in the U.S., according to the CDC, is to maintain a high level of immunity within the population through vaccination.

Measles, another disease that was more or less eliminated from the U.S in 2000 – thanks to the effectiveness of vaccinations, – has made a reappearance in 24 states and the District of Columbia in recent years with 188 reported cases. The majority of those infected were unvaccinated.

Fisher is emphatic that vaccinations have “extremely minimal side effects,” and they aren’t “the evils that people report them to be.” And, experts point out that, with the availability of vaccines, it will require the public’s cooperation if they are to achieve the more than 90 percent for herd immunity to keep diseases from reappearing – and, that would be a good thing.

What’s also a good thing is being covered by health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Remember – if you’re currently uninsured, there’s a penalty for not having health insurance. So, why not keep that from happening by getting a free health insurance quote today?
Have you had your child vaccinated with all required shots? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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