Finding good health news is often difficult, but here’s one: children are being immunized at record rates in the United States, reports The Washington Post. Nearly 80 percent of America’s youth are vaccinated against nine diseases by their third birthday.
For unknown reasons, rates are weakest in the West with Colorado scoring lowest at 68 percent. (I haven’t found California numbers yet). Connecticut comes on top with a vaccination rate of 94 percent. By the time children reach school age, 90 percent are up to date on vaccinations.
Although vaccination rates have been falling in Britain out of fear that the measles-mumps-rubella shot causes autism, Americans still favor the shots. Only 84 percent of British children were being vaccinated by 2002.
Fear of the MMR shots lingers in the United States because autism has grown 634 percent from 1987 to 2002, reports The Riverside Press-Enterprise. Some people suspect a chemical called Thimerosal, which contains mercury, is the culprit despite repeated studies that show there is no connection to autism. Some U.S. vaccine makers are phasing the chemical out anyway, though the remaining stocks will be in circulation until 2005.
Still, the increase in immunizations show that American parents fear diseases such as mumps and measles more than they do anecdotal theories that the immunizations cause autism.