A new report highlights the dichotomy of New Jersey being one of the wealthiest states in the United States, yet having one of the lowest vaccination rates for its children. With the national average of vaccinated infants and toddlers coming in at 71%, New Jersey is ranked 42nd out of 50 with only 64% of Jersey infants and toddlers vaccinated.
You're going to look twice at that cute toddler sharing spit with your little one at playgroup in Metuchen, huh?
While pockets of poverty do play a big part in the lower vaccination rate, it's a bit more complicated in the Garden State as their vaccination rates have been steadily dropping.
In low-income and immigrant communities, many lack health insurance, transportation to the doctor’s office, or struggle to understand the complex schedule of up to 28 shots recommended by the time a child is two-and-a-half years old.
And there’s also a growing resistance to vaccines among middle-class and wealthy people for whom money and insurance aren’t an issue. Some reject the schedule of shots urged by the American Academy of Pediatricians and the CDC.
As a pro-science parent myself, and one who has a baby in Southern California, the site of the latest deadly whooping cough epidemic, this anti-vax fervor makes me nervous. After all, we need the herd immunity to protect those too young or too ill to be vaccinated. People will die when the herd immunity is compromised, and that's a fact no matter which side of the debate you champion.
Of course, that is precisely what will make the vaccination rate go back up.
"There are a small percentage of people who are very vocal and very invested in making their viewpoint known," [Robert Tolan, chief of allergy immunization and infectious diseases at Children’s Hospital of St. Peter’s Medical Center in New Brunswick] said. "When I have tried to share scientific information, they don’t seem to respond to that approach. What will happen is that when preventable illness starts striking down our children, the pendulum will swing back."
What a horrible lesson to have to re-learn, and at the expense of our children.
Are you a New Jersey anti-vax parent?
Image via Zaldylmg/Flickr