Parents opting out of vaccines for kids on the rise

The number of parents opting out of school shots for their kids is rising and more than one in 20 public school kindergartners in eight states do not get all of their required vaccinations.
The results of the study have health officials worried about the possibility of new outbreaks of disease that were all but eradicated, the Associated Press reports. Over half of the states have seen at least a slight rise in exemptions in the past five years and the ones with the highest exemption rates are in the West and Upper Midwest.

In 2010-11, Alaska had the highest exemption rate at nearly nine percent. Colorado's rate was seven percent, Minnesota's rate was 6.5 percent, Vermont and Washington had a six percent exemption rate and Oregon, Michigan and Illinois were close behind. Mississippi was the lowest at close to zero percent.
Reasons for skipping the shots vary and include a doubt that they are essential, while some parents fear that vaccines carry their own risks. Some parents also don't want to give their children the nearly two dozen shots they require by the age of six.
Childhood vaccination rates remain high overall, at 90 percent or better for several vaccines, including those for measles, hepatitis B, polio and chicken pox. Health officials have yet to identify an exemption threshold that would likely lead to outbreaks, though there are some pockets in certain states where exemption rates are as high as 50 percent.
"Vaccine refusers tend to cluster," Saad Omer, an Emory University epidemiologist, said, according to the Associated Press. "Your child's risk of getting disease depends on what your neighbors do."