Vaccinations for kids -- seems like a no-brainer. However, The Hollywood Reporter, a trade publication for the entertainment industry, recently published a comprehensive study of school children who are vaccinated in the Los Angeles area.
The findings are troubling. Vaccination rates in high-income areas like Malibu and Santa Monica are low and sinking. As a result, incidence of whooping cough has skyrocketed. Experts say that Los Angeles Schools in this area are at "High Risk" of more outbreaks - possibly of other illnesses as well.
When a child is enrolled in school, an avalanche of forms to be filled out before kids hit the classroom. This includes an immunization record since birth. But there is a way to get around this requirement. Parents can submit a "personal belief exemption", also known as PBE. This exemption states that they're not vaccinating due to "a diffuse constellation of unproven anxieties, from allergies and asthma to eczema and seizures," reporter Gary Baum writes.
The Hollywood Reporter found that up to 60 to 70 percent of parents have filed these PBEs in a select group of schools.
That rate, more than half of kids enrolled, is a vaccination rate as low as Chad or South Sudan.
As a result, the L.A. neighborhoods of non-vaccinators are experiencing diseases like whooping cough and measles cases are high in California this year.
The L.A. Times previously reported that the percentage of kindergarteners not fully vaccinated because of the parent's beliefs has more than doubled since 2007. Private-school parents were likelier to file the PBEs than public-school parents. The paper found that the exemption rate for all of Santa Monica and Malibu was 15 percent.
So what's the problem with immunizations? High profile celebrity Jenny McCarthy claimed that her son's autism was caused by vaccination. She has legions of fans who believed her and shunned vaccinations. Her son's disorder began with seizures and his improvement occurred after the seizures were treated. Medical experts have noted that his symptoms are more consistent with Landau–Kleffner syndrome, often misdiagnosed as autism. (She has denied that he was misdiagnosed)
Are anti-vaccination parents threatening other children with 19th-century diseases? Medical experts from the CDC say yes.
Hollywood loves a comeback story - think Britney Spears, Drew Barrymore and Robert Downey. Here's hoping 19-th century diseases don't start making appearances.