More Magic Valley Families Seek to Exempt Their Children From Shots

They still make up a slim minority, but more parents are seeking vaccination exemptions for their school-aged children.
2011-09-06T01:30:00Z 2011-09-06T07:27:08Z More Magic Valley Families Seek to Exempt Their Children From ShotsBy Kimberlee Kruesi kkruesi@magicvalley.com Twin Falls Times-News

Children aren’t the only ones afraid of shots.

Idaho is seeing a slow trend of parents refusing to let their children receive school immunizations. Last year, 253 children in the South Central Public Health District were exempted from school immunizations. While this is barely 3 percent of students enrolled in grades K-7 throughout south-central Idaho, school exemptions have increased more than 62 percent since 2005. In that same time, enrollment in those grades rose 11 percent.

“I think the trend is just starting here,” said MaryBelle Anderson, nurse manager for the SCPHD Jerome office. “It’s been a pretty significant trend in California and Arizona and now it’s impacting us.”

While most schools will start next week, the total number of exemptions filed for this year will not be collected until Oct. 1.

Exempted children also make up about 3 percent of the school population statewide, said Tom Shanahan, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare spokesman. It’s still enough to concern health officials.

“Overall, the number has been fairly stable but even though we may not see a lot of mumps, it’s all a plane ride away,” he said. “Those traveling can bring it back. There’s that concern for the children that aren’t protected.”

Health and Welfare allows exemptions under three conditions: medical, religious and personal. In the Magic Valley and across the state, personal beliefs are the leading reason cited.

However, while exemptions are increasing, Idaho has improved its immunization rate over the years. Idaho ranks 42nd in the nation with a 62 percent immunization rate for children under 3 years old. In 2008, Idaho ranked 49th among states.

When pockets of a community refuse to vaccinate their children, it increases the chances of disease outbreaks, said Diane Peterson, associate director for the Immunization Action Coalition.

Diseases are still a threat to any population, she said. Cases of measles and whooping cough are on the rise in the Northwest. Without vaccinations, more children are more likely to get sick.

“It’s a situation where we’re victims of our own success,” Peterson said. “We’ve been able to reduce the numbers of diseases like polio, but young parents can’t see how important that is so they question the need for the vaccine.”

Copyright 2015 Twin Falls Times-News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(6) Comments

  1. agfishman
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    agfishman - September 08, 2011 8:45 pm
    If the parents are ignorant on vaccinations, then they are doing a huge disservice to their children and to the community. I am a firm believer on getting vaccinations because I don't want to get the disease and spread them around the community. As I was reading this article, the thoughts of Darwin's Theory kept popping in my mind. Sorry if that was harsh.
  2. lynns
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    lynns - September 06, 2011 7:19 pm
    It's easy for parents here to forego important vaccinations because the majority of the population does their duty to get immunized. I worry about the risk to young babies/children not yet completely inoculated being given an easily preventable disease. There was so much hype about autism being caused by vaccinations and that has all proven to be false...I think too many parents jumped on the bandwagon before thinking about the consequences to others.
  3. Cherilrcl
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    Cherilrcl - September 06, 2011 6:31 pm
    Ok, then I'll say it! Parents who refuse to get their kids vaccinated ARE ignorant. They spend way too much time researching bad information from people like Jenny McCarthy and her like. Today's children will be victimized by these ignorant parents because the bad diseases vaccines prevent will come back with a vengeance.

    Vaccines are safe. Very few children ever experience serious side effects. Polio, Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Pertussis are known to kill and/or permanently injure.

    Get your kids vaccinated! The millions of parents who do vaccinate couldn't possibly be that wrong!
  4. Kimberlee
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    Kimberlee - September 06, 2011 10:21 am
    nptolman,
    I was unable to find a parent who wanted to talk to me about this subject. I would have loved to have gotten a parent's voice in this story but due to my deadline and limited resources, it just didn't happen. I never said in the article parents were ignorant if they choose not to get their children vaccinated, only that this is rising trend and some health officials are concerned about it.
  5. ctbrown
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    ctbrown - September 06, 2011 10:08 am
    While I was glad to see this topic addressed, I was very disappointed it was completely one-sided. The article didn't even try to explore WHY more Magic Valley families are seeking exemptions. The first sentence,"Children aren’t the only ones afraid of shots" is about as ignorant as the ending statement concluding the medical field is a "victim of our own success." Chances are that if a family has made the decision to go against the mainstream, it's because they have spent countless hours researching and educating themselves about the risks vs. benefits and have arrived at a conclusion that they do not take lightly. The fact that the only people interviewed in this article were from Health and Welfare, SCPHD and Immunization Action Coalition honestly makes this piece, dare I say, propaganda and it is not only very disheartening but also misleading. Next time you explore this issue, please try to at least have one quote from someone on the other side of the fence. Fear stems from ignorance, and believe me, people that take the time to research the subject of vaccines are the least bit ignorant about the topic.
  6. nptolman
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    nptolman - September 03, 2011 10:56 am
    I would like to see the some of these parents actually interviewed to see how ignorant they truly are. I am one of these parents and it was not a choice I took lightly. My first son was vaccinated and I watched the adverse effects it had on him. After months and months of studying both sides I chose to stop any further vaccines. My next 3 kids have never had a shot. They are all perfectly healthy.

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