If I ask a science audience to guess, off the tops of our collective heads, which state would hold an irrational science position that was not only boneheaded but downright dangerous to each other and all of America, would you guess Alabama or Washington?
Alabama is the South and everyone in wealthier northern and western states equate that with stupid - but highly educated, wealthy, progressive, organic-loving Washington state thinks that Big Pharma is is exploiting the American children and those of us who got our kids vaccinated are just part of the stupid bourgeois without any intellectual independence or healthy skepticism. Alabama just accepts the science.
The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) "Vaccination Coverage Among Children in Kindergarten --- United States, 2009--10 School Year" showed an alarming trend in progressive states - they increasingly don't want their kids vaccinated.
Washington State had an overall alarming 6.2% exemptions requested by parents for their kids; dangerously close to the herd immunity threshold. Alabama only had 0.5% exemptions, including for religious, philosophical or medical reasons - and Alabama is 94% religious while Washington state is only 75%.(1) So much for religious people being more anti-science or stupid; not having your child die because some New Age hippie in a Whole Foods store told you vaccines cause autism is downright smart.
And it isn't fringe kooks in some remote Washington wasteland, highly-educated Seattle had 5.3% exemptions. An article in The Stranger (Not Safe For Work) notes more creatively than I do that six Seattle schools have kindergarten exemption rates higher than 20 percent. 20 percent!
We've had vaccine requirements for school since 1855 and the CDC has monitored compliance since 1978. Vaccines are not new.
Why are educated, progressive people who like government programs suddenly opting out of vaccinations in droves?
Well, they are educated. And selfish. They understand herd immunity in a way lesser educated people do not and maintain a suspicion that, despite any scientific evidence, vaccines may cause autism and so they would like to have their kids protected from both. The way for Washington parents to do that is to have the proletariat pump up the vaccine numbers to herd immunity levels, while their far-more-important special snowflakes benefit.
It's downright capitalistic. And dangerous. When it comes to being pro-science this time, Alabama beats Washington hands down.
(1) Mississippi topped all states with a non-compliance rate for the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine at just 0.3%
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