Ok… so the Bible doesn’t actually say that (for obvious reasons), but I’d be remiss to not point out the current measles outbreak that is largely centered from a cluster at Disneyland in California. I wont go into a diatribe here about why you should vaccinate your kids (more to come on that) but I do want to point out some interesting statistics and also to offer California a little bit of an apology because you’re being singled out somewhat unfairly.
No offense to anyone from Mississippi, but to be ranked below the Magnolia State on health and wellness indicators isn’t something to strive for and is quite frankly hard to do since Mississippi is at or near the bottom when it comes to most things medical and public health. Except for one thing – vaccinations.
Mississippi leads the country in the percentage of kindergartners who are vaccinated against measles – at a crazy high 99.7%. West Virginia – also not a state we typically look to for health and wellbeing – has a vaccination rate at 96.1%. I say we owe California an apology because despite being constantly in the media when it comes to “anti-vaxxers”, the state’s vaccination rate is 92.3%, not the lowest in the nation although there are counties in California where the rates are significantly lower. The dubious distinction for the lowest state vaccination rate goes to Colorado, where almost 20% of kindergartners aren’t vaccinated against measles.
Why are the rates in Mississippi so high? The Magnolia state only allows vaccination exemptions for medical reasons. That’s right – one of the MOST religious states in the country does not have a religious or philosophical exemption to vaccination. The same holds true for West Virginia. In fact, Mississippi and West Virginia are the only two states that do not allow for either a religious or philosophical exemption to vaccines – most other states offer either one or both.
If there’s any good news to come out of the current measles outbreak, it’s that vaccination rates are actually going up and “personal belief exemptions” have gone down – even in California. But when it comes to deadly childhood diseases, that’s one terrible silver lining.