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A rise in the number of unvaccinated children has prompted some alarming headlines, but while the immunization rate is heading in the wrong direction, most parents are still vaccinating their kids, according to reports by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Vaccinations help protect children from serious diseases like measles, mumps, pneumococcal disease, and whooping cough. When kids don't get immunized it can lead to disease outbreaks, such as the measles flare-up in Minnesota last year, which sickened 79 people.
According to the CDC reports, the percentage of unvaccinated kids is growing, but still very small. You can do your part to protect your child – and other people's children – by making sure you follow the recommended vaccination schedule for your little one.
Let's look at the numbers:
- CDC survey data show that 1.3 percent of children born in 2015 had received no vaccines by age 2. That's up from 0.9 percent from previous surveys of kids born in 2011. A 2001 survey found that just 0.3 percent of kids up to 35 months old (a few months shy of their third birthday) had not been vaccinated.
- More children are entering kindergarten without recommended vaccines because their parents have exempted them, mostly for nonmedical reasons, according to the CDC. The rate rose from 1.9 percent in the 2015-2016 school year to 2.2 percent in 2017-2018, the agency reported.
People living in certain parts of the country may be at slightly increased risk of coming into contact with unvaccinated children. The CDC found variations in vaccination rates between states and demographic groups. Another recent study identified "hot spots" where the risk of outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases is higher because of parents opting out of vaccinating their kids. You can check out the map here to see if your hometown is in one of those areas.
The data suggest some of the decline in immunizations is because parents are worried about vaccine safety (even though safety testing for vaccines is rigorous). But there are other reasons, too: The CDC found the vaccination rate was lower among children who don't have health insurance or are insured by Medicaid, and those who live in rural areas.
If you're worried about the cost of vaccines, know that your child can probably be vaccinated for free or at very low cost if your insurance doesn't cover the standard recommended vaccines or if your child has no insurance coverage at all.
our site News & Analysis is an assessment of recent news designed to cut through the hype and get you what you need to know.