Fortunately, an overwhelming number of Minnesotans base medical decisions on facts, scientific research and sound data rather than rumor, fearmongering and folklore. Minnesota parents understand the value and need for their young children to be vaccinated.
The share of Minnesota kindergarteners who are up-to-date on the vaccines that ward off measles, mumps and rubella in Minnesota has fallen a little in recent years but is at 92.5%, according to data from the state Department of Health.
That’s not great, but not terrible either. In the Mankato Area School District 96.88% of kindergarteners are up to date on their vaccine, according to the department.
There is a very small number of people who, because of certain health conditions, should not get vaccinated, according to health officials.
But even while Minnesotans should be proud of the state’s relatively high vaccination rates, the anti-vaccination crowd continues to push fear and suspicion about vaccinations, often preying on the fears of new mothers or other vulnerable groups.
This fall, Minnesota mother Catelin Clobes became a champion of the anti-vaxxer groups after she told the story of the death of her baby girl. She said the healthy 6-month-old died after a checkup where she got several vaccinations. The story went national and led to an advertising campaign aimed at scaring new moms about getting their babies vaccinated.
One billboard showed Clobes’ baby girl with the words “HEALTHY BABIES DON’T JUST DIE.” The web address of a group opposed to mandatory vaccinations was listed on the bottom of the billboard.
The death of the little girl became a rallying point for anti-vaxxers, with her story told at rallies, fundraisers and legislative chambers around the country.
But, like many of the tales spread by anti-vaccination groups, there was a problem with Clobes’ tale. Evidence collected by first responders and by an autopsy by the Wright County medical examiner showed the baby accidentally suffocated while sleeping with her mother.
Anti-vaxxers have targeted other cases of sudden, unexpected death, including from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, declaring they were caused by vaccinations.
The stubborn, rumor-based anti-vaxxing campaigns come at a time when the country is facing the largest outbreaks of vaccine-preventable illnesses in decades. Outbreaks of measles have hit their highest level in 25 years, something that’s completely unnecessary. Measles were virtually eradicated in the U.S. fewer than 20 years ago.
Those who value facts and want to help keep children and adults safe from preventable diseases need to challenge the anti-vaccination crowd so the state and country don’t lose ground on preventing diseases.
In California a victory was notched recently when anti-vaccination activists gave up on their effort to repeal a new state law that will make it harder for parents to get their children bogus medical exemptions so they don’t have to be immunized.
Those hoping to overturn the law through a ballot initiative couldn’t even gather enough signatures to place the repeal measure on next year’s ballot. That shows most people rely on facts when it comes to common-sense immunization decisions.