An anti-vaccine movement is evident in some Salt Lake County schools.The Salt Lake Tribune
In 2011, a family in the affluent Salt Lake County suburb of Holladay drew scorn for starting the biggest measles outbreak in Utah in more than a decade.
The family’s unimmunized children imported the virus from Poland after traveling there to retrieve a Mormon missionary.
But public furor has faded, apparently along with support for tightening Utah’s exemption law –– one of 19 in the country that allow families to forgo vaccines for personal, and not just medical or religious, reasons.
Meanwhile, the percentage of kindergartners seeking exemptions from Utah’s school-entry immunization requirements is creeping up. (See an interactive graphic here.)
School immunization data obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune for the start of the 2013-14 year show 54 of Salt Lake County’s 235 public elementary and intermediate schools fell short of the 95 percent vaccination rate experts say prevents measles and whooping cough from spreading — also known as the "herd immunity" threshold.
The anti-vaccine movement is driving more parents to choose not to vaccinate their children, creating hot spots vulnerable to a comeback of vaccine-preventable illnesses, such as measles and whooping cough, public health watchdogs say.
"Each unimmunized person can become a vector for someone else’s disease, and thus is a relative danger to the community," said William Cosgrove, a pediatrician in Murray and a member of the Utah Scientific Immunization Advisory Committee.
"It does not require very many," he said, "before you are in a situation where [a] germ can spread to those in the community who can’t protect themselves, an infant too young to immunize, or a family member on immunosuppressives, or those few vaccines don’t fully protect."
In 1997, 1.2 percent of Utah kindergarteners sought exemptions from immunization requirements. By 2007 it had grown to 2.9 percent, and today it approaches 4 percent.
That’s still above the safety threshold set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) for preventing the spread of most diseases.
Read the entire story at The Salt Lake Tribune
Visit the Utah Immunization Program for more information about getting immunized at http://www.immunize-utah.org/