Pew: Pennsylvania Has Second-Lowest Vaccination Rate in the Nation

Are we vulnerable to a measles outbreak?

Take a look at this chart from Pew, and note where Pennsylvania falls:

SLN_Feb09_vaccinationRates

That’s right! Pennsylvania has the second-lowest vaccination rate in the United States — less than 90 percent of our population has taken the needle. Authorities say that low rate makes us vulnerable to outbreaks of infectious diseases — something like the measles outbreak being seen nationally.

Pew:

The federal government’s goal is to immunize at least 90 percent of all children before they enter school to keep measles and other childhood diseases at bay. Although the national average immunization rate (91.1 percent) exceeds that number, several states fall below it. “To have pockets where community immunity is below 90 percent is worrisome as they will be the ones most vulnerable to a case of measles exploding into an outbreak,” said Litjen (L.J) Tan, chief strategy officer of the Immunization Action Coalition, which advocates for higher levels of immunization.

Why are immunization rates so low around here? Because state law allows more than just the usual religious exemption to get out of vaccinations — philosophical exemptions also work here. The result? Better-than-average vulnerability to the next big epidemic. Let’s hope that doesn’t come soon.

One bit of comedy, though: Last year state officials (mostly Republican) protested vociferously against housing undocumented child immigrants in the state — warning that health hazards could result! And they were right it turns out — there’s a real risk that foreign-born kids could end up contracting diseases from all these unvaccinated Pennsylvania kids. Probably best to keep them safe and away from us.

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