Sur­vey: Thou­sands of young U.S. chil­dren get no vac­cines


NEW YORK — A small but grow­ing pro­por­tion of the youngest chil­dren in the U.S. have not been vac­ci­nated against any dis­ease, wor­ry­ing health of­fi­cials.

An es­ti­mated 100,000 young chil­dren have not had a vac­ci­na­tion against any of the 14 dis­eases for which shots are rec­om­mended, ac­cord­ing to a Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion re­port re­leased Thurs­day.

“This is pretty con­cern­ing. It’s some­thing we need to un­der­stand bet­ter — and re­duce,” said the CDC’s Dr. Amanda Cohn.

Most young chil­dren — 70 per­cent — have had all their shots. The new es­ti­mate is based on find­ing that, in 2017, 1.3 per­cent of the chil­dren born in 2015 were com­pletely un­vac­ci­nated. That’s up from the 0.9 per­cent seen in an ear­lier sim­i­lar as­sess­ment of the kids born in 2011. A 2001 sur­vey with a dif­fer­ent method­ol­ogy sug­gested the pro­por­tion was in the neigh­bor­hood of 0.3 per­cent.

Young chil­dren are es­pe­cially vul­ner­a­ble to com­pli­ca­tions from vac­cine-pre­ventable dis­eases, some of which can be fa­tal.

The lat­est num­bers come from a tele­phone sur­vey last year of the par­ents of about 15,000 tod­dlers. The 100,000 es­ti­mate refers to the 2017 vac­ci­na­tion sta­tus of kids born in 2015 and 2016.

A sep­a­rate CDC study found that over­all vac­ci­na­tion rates for older, kinder­garten-age chil­dren con­tinue to hold about steady, with close to 95 per­cent fully vac­ci­nated.

The re­searchers didn’t ask why par­ents didn’t get their kids vac­ci­nated.

A sig­nif­i­cant mi­nor­ity of them did not have health in­surance cov­er­age. Health of­fi­cials said that was a sur­prise be­cause a gov­ern­ment pro­gram pays for vac­cines for unin­sured chil­dren.

But the ma­jor­ity were in­sured. What’s go­ing on isn’t clear, but one fac­tor may be some par­ents’ mis­per­cep­tions about the safety and im­por­tance of vac­cines, some ex­perts said.

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