Understanding Factors Contributing to Suboptimal Rates of Childhood Vaccinations in Vermont
Presented at the American Public Health Association 139th Annual Meeting & Exposition, Washington, DC, October 30, 2011
Introduction: Nationally, childhood immunizations have proven themselves invaluable in preventing contagious diseases and their associated morbidity and mortality. Nonetheless, vaccines have become increasingly controversial, with a growing number of parents refusing to vaccinate their children. Primary reasons given for vaccination refusal include fears of side effects and the belief that the target diseases are not harmful. Those parents who refuse to vaccinate their children generally have higher levels of education and income. An additional population of under-vaccinated children who have received limited recommended vaccinations has been identified and often comes from a lower socioeconomic level. Unimmunized children have been associated with recent disease outbreaks, placing other individuals at risk and increasing the controversy about childhood vaccinations. Nationally, Vermont has one of the highest rates of unvaccinated children with recent data showing these rates are continuing to increase.