Disease outbreaks may prompt legislative action on childhood vaccinations, study shows

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The U.S. has seen an increasing number of vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks occur in recent years, and along with that, there has been a corresponding increase in legislation on childhood vaccinations, according to a study published in JAMA Pediatrics.

Researchers from Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University in Philadelphia examined state-level data from 2010 to 2016 on 12 different childhood vaccine-preventable diseases reported to health departments. The diseases include hepatitis A and B, influenza, measles and whooping cough. They also studied state legislature data for vaccination-focused bills introduced between 2011 and 2017.

Researchers found each state reported an average of 25 vaccine-preventable diseases per 100,000 people each year. Of the 175 vaccination-related bills proposed from 2011-17, 53 percent made it easier to avoid childhood vaccine requirements while 47 percent made it more difficult to skip vaccinations.

Although the number of anti-vaccine bills was higher than the pro-vaccine bills, researchers found that vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks was linked to an increase in the number of proposed pro-vaccine bills. There was no association between outbreaks and anti-vaccine bills.

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