Despite a growing anti-vaccine movement, concerns about vaccination policies loom large among parents choosing a daycare for their child.
A poll conducted by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital found that more than 80 percent of parents say they believe all children in daycare should be required to be up to date on vaccines. More than 40 percent polled said that children who don’t receive the required vaccination should be kept out of daycare.
The poll also found that 75 of parents strongly supported policies that would require care providers to check vaccination statuses every year. Two out of three parents also said that they would like to be informed of the number of children in the daycare center not up to date on vaccines.
“The take-home message from this poll is that, when choosing a daycare for their child, parents should feel comfortable asking about the vaccination policies, such as whether the daycare excludes children who are not up-to-date, and whether they check children’s vaccination status every year,” C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital said in the report.
Babies and toddlers, many of whom are not toilet trained, are exposed to a large number of germs during their stay at daycares. Vaccines, however, protect babies between the ages of less than a year and five against 14 common childhood ailments. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, proper immunization will prevent nearly 322 million illness, 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths among children born between 1994 and 2013.
That message, however, has failed to resonate with some parents as of recently.
While most states require students to get vaccinated for measles, whooping cough, polio and other preventable diseases, parents have been able to obtain non-medical exemptions with a “philosophical objection” loophole. Nearly 40 percent of parents choose to delay or skip their children’s recommended vaccines, according to a study released in June. Earlier this year, health officials in several states — including Iowa, Illinois, Virginia, and Oklahoma and Nevada — reported an increase in children who entered school without getting their vaccines first.
Some anti-vaxxers — including celebrities like Jenny McCarthy, Jay Cutler, Kristen Cavalleri, and Rob Schneider — base their aversion to immunizations on the belief that the cocktail of shots causes autism, an argument that has been discredited. Upon review of the government immunization schedule, the Institute of Medicine has found childhood vaccinations to be both safe and effective. The resurgence of whooping cough, measles, and other preventable diseases in recent years has prompted some pushback against this small but vocal contingent.
Earlier this year, New York confirmed nearly 20 cases of measles among 10 adults and nine children. In 2011, health officials confirmed more than 20 cases of the mumps at the University of California, Berkeley campus. This year, California suffered its worst whooping cough epidemic in nearly 70 years, also thought to have been caused by a growing number of unvaccinated children. Nearly 9,000 people have been affected so far.
Some states have recently countered the anti-vaccination movement with legislation aimed at teaching parents who don’t want to vaccinate their children about the risks of following through with that decision. After introducing a measure like that in Colorado, for instance, state legislators said that they didn’t want to impede on parents’ rights; instead they wanted to ensure that they received accurate information about vaccines before taking a stance.
“This is not mandatory vaccinations, this is not a change to personal belief exemption,” Colorado Rep. Dan Pabon, the sponsor of the legislation, told the Mint Press News. “This is simply saying, ‘If you exercise this option, you will get some disclosures about the risks and benefits.’”
The authors of the recent C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital study said that the figures show that the tide is slowly turning against the anti-vaccination movement, in part due to the spread of accurate information about the impact of vaccines. This shows the potential for conversation between supporters of vaccines and anti-vaxxers.
Dr. Paul Offit, known as one of the nation’s most ardent proponent of vaccines, has taken this message to heart by hosting lectures where he teaches physicians to calmly argue down parents who may question the use of vaccines during their next visit.