PUBLIC HEALTH AND PERSONAL CHOICE

“This study helps dispel one of the commonly held beliefs among vaccine-refusing parents: that their children are not at risk for vaccine-preventable diseases.”
—Jason Glanz, Kaiser’s Institute for Health Research

We're all in this together

When you get vaccinated, you are not only protecting yourself. You are also protecting your family, friends, neighbors, and everyone you come into contact with.

In any community, there will always be some people who are not immunized—they are too young, too old, too weak, or some other reason.

They are susceptible to the disease. But if everyone in the community is immunized, then the odds of them catching the disease are small. And the odds of them passing it on and starting an epidemic are even smaller. Scientists call this phenomenon community immunity.

It doesn't take much

The number of parents choosing not to vaccinate their kids is small, usually only a few percent. But those children are often clustered together, making their schools potential breeding grounds for mumps, measles and other disease that were close to elimination. And as those children go about their day, they can unwittingly spread the germs far and wide.

Normally, poor health care is more common among people with low incomes and low levels of education. But with vaccines, it is some highly educated parents who second-guess their doctors and skip immunization—a potentially very dangerous decision.