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Anti-vaxxers are so insistent about their junk science there are new chickenpox, measles outbreaks

Flu-related deaths this season are already increasing.

Angel Van Deventer, 5, of South Portland reacts as she receives a flu shot at a clinic hosted by VNA Home Health Hospice. (Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
Angel Van Deventer, 5, of South Portland reacts as she receives a flu shot at a clinic hosted by VNA Home Health Hospice. (Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

A new report released Monday, at the height of flu season, has found that more than one-third of U.S. parents are not planning to vaccinate their children.

The study, by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, surveyed nearly 2,000 parents, 34 percent of whom said they were unlikely to give their child the flu vaccine. While 48 percent of parents said they generally take the advice of their children’s health care providers when it comes to the vaccine, 21 percent said they couldn’t recall whether doctors gave them any recommendations on the matter.

As CNN reported, the key reasons parents did not plan to vaccinate their children were due to concerns about potential side effects and concerns that the vaccine is ineffective.

Another recent report by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) found that, although the flu shot is one of the least controversial vaccines, few who are advised to get it actually do so.

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The latest data reflects a growing anti-vaccine trend that has, in recent years, resulted in a disturbing resurgence of preventable illnesses, like chickenpox and measles. Last year’s flu season saw the lowest vaccination rate and the most deaths in decades, with nearly 80,000 reported deaths, including more than 180 children. Eighty percent of those children had not received the flu vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The anti-vaccine movement is based on junk science which incorrectly draws a connection between vaccines and the increasing risk of autism in children, a claim that has been disproven time and time again.

Anti-vaccine advocates reportedly influenced two Orthodox Jewish communities in New York against vaccinating its children, resulting, as of last week, in 85 cases of measles, a number that is expected to rise. As Vox reported last week, such outbreaks are common in small, insular communities — like the recent chickenpox outbreak in a small North Carolina community — which are often more vulnerable to the messages spread by anti-vaccine propagandists.

The NBER study found that people’s past experiences with illnesses also influence their decision to obtain a vaccine. Researchers found that people who did not receive a flu shot and ended up getting the flu were more likely to get the vaccine the following year. But those who did obtain a flu shot and still got the flu were less likely to get the vaccine the following year.

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So far, at least a dozen people have died from the flu this year, with some of the first cases reported in South Carolina and North Carolina.