Study: States with nonmedical vaccine exemptions linked to lower immunization rates

States permitting vaccine exemptions for children due to nonmedical, philosophical beliefs had lower vaccination rates for mumps, measles and rubella, according to a study published in Plos Medicine.

Today, 18 states allow nonmedical vaccine exemptions. To assess the effect of these exemptions on vaccination rates, researchers compared the contraction rates of children who entered kindergarten with a nonmedical vaccination exemption form and children who received the MMR vaccine.

Twelve of the 18 states permitting nonmedical exemptions demonstrated an upward trend in children starting kindergarten with a vaccine exemption since 2009. The odds of an unvaccinated child contracting measles was 35 times higher than for a vaccinated child.

"Our concern is that the rising [nonmedical exemptions] linked to the anti-vaccine movement in the U.S. will stimulate other countries to follow a similar path," the study’s authors wrote.

They believe tougher regulations must be implemented to end nonmedical exemptions for global safety.

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