There’s a small island in Washington, situated between Seattle and Tacoma, where vaccination is considered a bad idea. Since 2002, this little island has been known as a major source of ant-vaccine sentiment. Called Vashon, it boasts some of the highest rates of vaccination exemptions in the county and it’s been reflected in their outbreak history. In 2012, they had the highest number of whooping cough cases seen in the outbreak that year. In Vashon, 1 in 4 kindergarteners haven’t received their childhood vaccinations for everything from whooping cough, tetanus and polio to measles. Compare this to the exceptional 99.7% vaccination rate in Mississippi and it’s no wonder why public health officials are worried about Vashon.
90% of parents who don’t vaccinate their children do so under the “personal reasons” exemption allowed by Washington state laws. However, as of Feb. 17th this “reason” was revoked in a Bill approved by the state House committee. People worry about the backlash resulting from such a revoke of the personal exemption clause, but legislators are feeling the pressure more and more—especially with the current measles outbreak. The pro-vaccine camp is speaking up more than ever now in Vashon and science is on their side. However, anti-vaccine views are entrenched and no amount of myth-debunking info has shown to sway them from their beliefs.
With measles cases on the rise, public health officials are desperate to try and persuade these parents to vaccinate. Maybe the legislation will help.