A new study from Emory University shows that in states where it’s relatively easy for parents to opt out of vaccinating their children, more are choosing not to vaccinate.
All 50 states allow parents to opt out of vaccinating their children.
But some states—like Georgia— have stricter requirements than others for granting an exemption.
Saad Omer is a global health professor at Emory and the study’s lead author. He says it’s troubling that exemption rates were more than 2.5-times higher in states that allow philosophical exemptions than in ones that only allow religious exemptions .
“The reason we are concerned about this is because people who seek exemptions tend to cluster in certain communities,” says Omer.
In other words, group mentality sometimes takes over. And that changes the equation, Omer says.
For example, a vaccine that’s 90% effective can prevent an outbreak even if it fails 10% of the time. That’s because other children are vaccinated.
But if a good number of children aren’t vaccinated, it makes the likelihood of an outbreak greater.
“That means that all of us have a stake in maintaining high vaccine coverage, not just at the national and state level, but also at the local and school level,” says Omer.
The study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine