Fort Worth, Texas,
08:20 PM

Measles, pertussis increase due to ‘intentionally unvaccinated’

Why children who aren’t vaccinated puts everyone at risk

Not getting your child vaccinated puts them and others at risk.

We have said this before (many times), but a new study shows just how true this statement is.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) looked at the combined data of 18 published measles studies on several measles and pertussis outbreaks.

Reviewing a total of 1,416 measles cases, 56 percent had no history of measles vaccination. This is way higher than you might expect given that most still choose to have their child vaccinated.

Still the study states that “a substantial proportion of the US measles cases in the era after elimination were intentionally unvaccinated.”

Intentionally unvaccinated?

As a pediatrician this concerns me. As a dad, it terrifies me.

In one outbreak the risk of contracting measles was 35 times more likely when parents had skipped the shots. A child who isn’t vaccinated is much more likely to spread measles than a vaccinated child.

We know that the pertussis vaccine is not working as well as we would like. The protection from the vaccine is falling off quickly. However, this study showed that despite this, vaccine exemptions continue to be a factor in the spread of pertussis outbreaks. Somewhere around 1 out of 3 kids who got pertussis during these outbreaks was unvaccinated.

Why are children not getting the vaccines? Not all studies had the information necessary to say. But, for those that did, most families skipped the vaccines for personal or religious reasons (70 percent for measles, 60-90 percent for pertussis).

This is further proof to something we’ve suspected for some time. Having even small pockets of unvaccinated children increases the risk to the whole community.

Each of these families who chose not to vaccinate gamble on 3 issues:

1.Their child would not be exposed to the disease (banking on herd immunity whether they know it or not).

2.If their child was exposed, that they would not contract the disease.

3.If their child contracted the disease, they would not suffer serious consequences.

These are consequences I’m not willing to gamble on.

In the case of measles, consequences could mean pneumonia, hospitalization and, later in life, neurologic complications.

In the case of pertussis, consequences could mean painful coughing, broken ribs and, in the very young, death.

This is further proof to something we’ve suspected for some time. Having even small pockets of unvaccinated children increases the risk to the whole community.

About the author

Justin Smith, M.D., is a Cook Children's pediatrician in Lewisville . View more from The Doc Smitty at his Facebook page.He attended University of Texas, Southwestern Medical School and did his pediatric training at Baylor College of Medicine. He joins Cook Children's after practicing in his hometown of Abilene for four years. He has a particular interest in development, behavior and care for children struggling with obesity. In his spare time, he enjoys playing with his 3 young children, exercising, reading and writing about parenting and pediatric health issues.

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And what Texas town has the highest rate of non immunized children?
Dallas suburb
White collar