A Global Perspective: United States of America

Anti-vaccination movements are not just isolated to Australia, but do occur in many countries around the world, predominantly in first world countries. Such countries include, but are not limited to, United States of America, France and Britain. These countries have essentially universal access to vaccines that prevent terrible diseases, and yet are not reaching Herd Immunity thresholds. As with Australia, much of these countries host pockets of unvaccinated people who share the same beliefs with regards to vaccines, which leads to outbreaks of vaccine preventable illnesses within these populations. So though overall vaccination rates within these countries are up above 85%, it’s these pockets of misinformation and distrust that are leading to people falling ill from vaccine preventable diseases.

In the U.S., vaccination rates across all states for each of the common seven vaccines are all above 80%, with 3 of the vaccines/combined vaccines reaching the threshold for herd immunity. However, there many communities and groups that have diminished vaccination rates that are causing outbreaks of preventable diseases. One such outbreak occurred in California. In December of 2014, an outbreak of measles occurred, with at least 127 cases being traced back to a single visitor of the Californian Disneyland amusement park. These cases spanned across 8 states in the U.S. as well as spreading into Canada and Mexico. Fortunately, no deaths resulted from this outbreak. This case prompted the passing of the Californian Senate Bill 277 in 2015, a Bill which removed a number of exemptions to vaccination requirements for day care and school aged children. Though this bill was only effective from July of last year, it is expected to result in increased vaccination rates within the state of California.

Image result for disneyland measles outbreak

Figure 1: A depiction of a Disney favourite, Mickey Mouse, with the Measles Disease. Available from: http://www.truthrevolt.org/news/disneyland-measels-outbreak-blamed-anti-vaccine-movement

This is one example of a government’s response to falling vaccination rates, due to vaccine opposition, and is quite similar to Australia’s response to declining immunisation rates; the “No Jab, No Pay” Law (please refer to blog post of the same name). By removing avenues through which parents can rule their children exempt from vaccines, the Californian government and the Australian Government hope to increase vaccination rates and reduce the occurrence of outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases.

References

  1. Legal Info. Senate Bill 277. Government of California; 2015 [Cited: 23 Feb 2017]. Available from: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/15-16/bill/sen/sb_0251-0300/sb_277_bill_20150630_chaptered.html
  2. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Immunisation. National Centre for Health Statistics; 2016 [Cited: 23 Feb 2017]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/immunize.htm
  3. World Health Organisation. Immunisation: Monitoring and Surveillance. WHO International; 2016 [Cited: 23 Feb 2017]. Available from: http://www.who.int/immunization/monitoring_surveillance/data/en/
  4. Ołpiński M. Anti-Vaccination Movement and Parental Refusals of Immunization of Children in USA. Pediatria Polska [Internet]. 2012 [cited 25 February 2017];87(4):381-385. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0031393912000042
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