The logic of vaccines may lead us to the concept that a heavier vaccinated region is a healthier region. At least that’s what the CDC seems to imply, as well as a variety of doctors and medical professionals. With more and more mandatory vaccination laws either actively deployed or coming down the pipe, we should expect to see some added societal value (we’d think).
But for Mississippi, that doesn’t exactly seem to be the case.
The median coverage for the two-dose measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR) was 94.7 percent; 95.0 percent for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP); and 93.3 percent for two doses of varicella vaccine in states that require it. Colorado had the lowest rates with 81.7 percent for MMR; 80.9 percent for DTaP; and 81.7 percent for varicella.
The seemingly unsavory juxtaposition of the two statistics, however, is justified as being that of an improved state of affairs for Mississippi by Paul Offit. In an article he wrote for Daily Beast this week, Offit uses both stats and paints them favorable for mandatory vaccines. Offit acknowledges what seems to be diametrically opposed results, but never waivers that the statistics are good for mandatory vaccine legislation.
For context, every state had high immunization rates, with none dipping below 84 percent. But Mississippi was a surprise leader in vaccinations. Between 2012 and 2014, the state ranked dead last in overall health rankings. Mississippi’s efficiency at immunizing its children is therefore puzzling: How did a state with the worst overall health in the nation score the best vaccination rates?
Offit goes on to cite Brown v. Stone as evidence that these two opposing results are good. To be fair, one might be able to put forth an argument that the two points are not related, however, I’m having a difficult time seeing how they can be used to prove a benefit for higher vaccine rates. It is almost as if Offit is simply writing two different tales and then pushing forth an idea that he proved a theory. The article’s first few paragraphs notes that Mississippi is statistically the most unhealthy state in the country. The following handful of paragraphs goes on to recite the details of the Brown v. Stone case, which centered around a parent who fought against mandatory vaccinations based on religious grounds but ultimately lost due to the 14th amendment. Offit ultimately praises Mississippi over forcing vaccines on public school children but never seems to justify the original point of Mississippi’s unhealthy state of affairs.
Ultimately, Offit’s conclusion is as follows (please read the opening paragraphs again so as to remind yourself of the point of the article).
In 1979, the state of Mississippi argued that children whose parents hold ill-founded and potentially dangerous beliefs—whether cloaked in the robes of religion or not—shouldn’t be afforded less protection under the law. In essence, they argued that although parents can determine how a child lives, they can’t determine whether the child has the right to a life unhindered by preventable diseases.
Today, 47 states have religious exemptions to vaccination. Using religion as an excuse to perform a profoundly unreligious act, parents in these states have the right to allow their children to catch and transmit potentially fatal infections. Our country would do well to follow the state that stood up for its children in 1979.
This is completely confusing. Maybe someone can please read Offit’s article in full and help me figure out where I’m missing something?