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Many Higher-Income Parents Forgoing Kids' Vaccinations: Report
Date:11/3/2010

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Vaccination rates for children insured by commercial plans dropped almost four percentage points between 2008 and 2009, even though the rate of children on Medicaid getting vaccinated is rising.

"Rates had been gradually improving in the commercial plans. This was the first time we'd seen a drop -- and it was a pretty big drop," said Sarah Thomas, vice president of public policy and communication for the National Committee for Quality Assurance, which recently released its annual State of Health Care Quality report.

Although vaccination rates last year were still mostly higher among children in private health plans rather than Medicaid, researchers and other experts suspect that a counterintuitive trend in American demographics is at work: Parents in a relatively high socio-economic bracket -- with more education and relatively high incomes -- forgoing vaccines because of fears about their safety, with poor individuals taking good advantage of their access to free or extremely low-cost care to have their children immunized.

"We didn't really explore the reasons [for the trend], but one leading hypothesis is that parents have decided not to get their children vaccinated because of concerns about the potential for side effects and even autism," said Thomas.

"I would argue that parents are doing what they think is the best for their children; they're just misinformed," said Dr. Robert W. Frenck, Jr, professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

The view that vaccinations cause autism -- which is not supported by scientific research -- is also being publicly touted by a host of attractive celebrities.

Part of that misinformation may come from "very articulate, very good-looking movie stars or personalities that are giving information about how bad vaccines are," Frenck said. "Frump
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