According to a new poll conducted by CNN and Opinion Research Corporation International, approximately 8 in 10 Americans believe that parents should be held accountable for ensuring their children are vaccinated against preventable diseases.1
CNN’s survey comes in the wake of a growing concern over an outbreak of measles that stemmed from a theme park in California. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that a record number of 644 measles cases were reported in 2014, and that in 2015, 154 cases have already been reported as of February 20.2
The vaccination debate has gained considerable attention in wake of three separate outbreaks across the nation. A small percentage of Americans opt out of receiving the measles vaccine, which is generally considered the cause of outbreaks. For this reason, many Americans stand behind required vaccinations because it would better the overall health of the population.
If this concept were ever written into law, it would alter the way health care professionals enforce vaccination on a local, regional and national level. For certified medical assistants, in particular, tracking required immunizations may become part of the administrative workload.
CNN reports that about 60 percent of those polled believe that unvaccinated children should be barred from public schools and day care facilities.1 Participants on the West Coast expressed the most concern that measles would ‘very likely’ strike their community, about 39 percent. In comparison, about 10 percent of participants in the Northeast expressed the same level of concern, and only 8 percent felt it was very likely in the Midwest and South.1
Participants were surveyed over the phone by CNN or ORC International and were queried about basic demographics such as age, gender, race and geographic region.1
The facts about measles
The measles is a highly contagious virus that can be spread by coughing or sneezing. According to the CDC, the disease is spread so easily that a person with the measles will likely infect 90 percent of unvaccinated people close to him or her.3 Furthermore, the measles can live for up to two hours in airspace after a person with the disease coughs or sneezes. Hence, the disease can easily be spread in high traffic areas, such as the theme parks at the center of the recent outbreak in California.
The CDC notes that the majority of recent measles cases occur in those that are unvaccinated.2 Moreover, the organization states that the measles is still a common disease that affects populations around the world. Therefore, the measles is still easily brought into the U.S. by those traveling. Small communities that are opposed to vaccinations are particularly at high risk of contracting and spreading the disease.
In 2014, the CDC found that the majority of measles cases stemmed from an outbreak in unvaccinated Amish communities in Ohio.2 In 2000, the CDC declared that the measles had been eliminated in the U.S., and between 2002 and 2007, fewer than 100 cases were reported each year.
In 2008, more cases of the disease emerged in communities where many people were unvaccinated. The number of cases was again reduced below 100 per annum in 2009 and 2010, but an outbreak in France contributed to just more than 200 cases in 2011.
Considering 2014’s record numbers and the rate at which cases are being reported in early 2015, it’s possible that that 2015 may be the worst year for measles cases in recent history.
1 “Poll: Majority of Americans want vaccines to be required as measles outbreak grows,” by Sandy Lamotte, CNN, Feb. 23, 2015. http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/23/health/vaccine-poll/
2 “Measles cases and outbreaks,” U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Feb. 23, 2015. http://www.cdc.gov/measles/cases-outbreaks.html
3 “Transmission of measles,” U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Nov. 13, 2014. http://www.cdc.gov/measles/about/transmission.html