Everybody knows that children don't like shots. Now a new Wisconsin survey reveals more parents also aren't liking them. While compliance with the Wisconsin Student Immunization Law remains high, many Wisconsin children are more susceptible to vaccine preventable diseases because more parents refuse immunizations for nonmedical reasons.
"We've seen an increase in nonmedical exemptions," says Dr. Jeffrey Davis, chief medical officer with the state Division of Public Health. During the 2005-2006 school year, 3.1 percent of Wisconsin students received nonmedical exemptions for vaccines, nearly four times higher than in 1992-1993.
Those numbers are from a survey of parents, and while the percentage is still small, it represents real problems. "Whenever you have decreased rates, there's going to be issues of increased susceptibility," says Davis. "And this isn't uniformly spread across the state. There are pockets where these rates are higher. When that occurs, the risk of transmission is gong to be even greater."
Survey findings involving 963 parents of children in 66 Wisconsin elementary, middle and high schools compared attitudes and beliefs of those with children having nonmedical exemptions to those with fully-vaccinated children. Results are published in the latest issue of the Wisconsin Medical Journal.
"What we found is the people who claimed exemptions have certain fears regarding vaccine safety," says Davis. "They also have a belief that it's better to get natural disease than the vaccine. Another is that my child is not at risk of the diseases."