I thought I'd write a blog post about a question that I raised in class in response to Luis's blog post about the anti-vaccine movement amongst affluent people. When we were discussing Luis's blog post in class, I was perplexed by the idea that more affluent individuals, despite access to resources and educational materials, choose not to vaccinate their children. However, according to a 2004 study, unvaccinated children tended to come from families with college educated parents and a relatively higher income.
Public health surveillance has shown that vaccination rates have been reduced in several affluent communities, such as in Santa Monica and Malibu. In Orange County, California, some doctors have noted that almost 10% of kindergarteners have not received their vaccinations. A speculated reason as to why vaccination rates have dropped in this demographic include the idea that not vaccinating their children is a "status symbol" to distinguish their children from other children. Additionally, as we discussed in class, it may be that because the rates of vaccine-preventable diseases have dropped in these communities, people remember the dire effects of these potentially fatal illnesses on a smaller scale. While these parents may consider themselves "well-educated" and helping their children, they are in turn undermining community health on a far greater level. In fact, studies have demonstrated that lower income families may be 70% more likely to vaccinate their children than higher income families, suggesting a skew in the information that these patients are receiving. There needs to be education to dispel these myths among individuals who may not understand the importance of receiving the vaccination, especially targeting these groups that are most susceptible to misinformation.
This Paul Offit article also provides great insight into the anti-vaccination movement and the social factors contributing to it: http://www.wsj.com/articles/paul-a-offit-the-anti-vaccination-epidemic-1411598408