| Maria Herd, dpa |
WASHINGTON (dpa) – Isolated outbreaks of preventable childhood diseases such as measles and whooping cough in the United States have been linked to some parents’ decision to decline immunising their children.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 593 confirmed cases of measles in the United States in 2014 as of August 15, the highest occurrence in two decades. The disease had been declared eliminated in 2000.
Over 48,000 cases of whooping cough were reported in the country during 2012, the most since 1955.
The statistics are noteworthy as children go back to public schools across the country during September.
Several states allow parents to opt out of vaccinations for various reasons, and experts believe this is linked to the recent increase in illnesses. All states allow parents to opt out of vaccinations based on medical conditions, 46 states for religious reasons and 19 out of philosophical beliefs.
Some parents have opted out because of concerns that autism might be linked to the vaccines children receive. But to date there is no scientific evidence linking vaccines to autism, experts said at a panel discussion in Washington about vaccines and the outbreak of preventable diseases.
To protect an entire community from serious diseases, at least 95 per cent of the population must be vaccinated in what experts refer to as “herd immunity.”
When above 5 per cent of the population skips a vaccination or is unable to be immunised due to a medical condition, it puts the entire population at risk, the experts say.