Childhood Vaccination Attitudes Discussed By Panel at UK

Mar 31, 2015

Credit Daniel Paquet / Flickr (Creative Commons License)

The measles outbreak that happened late last year in the western U.S. has renewed discussion about vaccination policies.  That very issue was the main topic of a panel discussion Tuesday at the University of Kentucky.

Members of the panel talked about the value of meeting suggested childhood vaccination schedules. 

Nicole Huberfeld, a bioethics associate in the College of Medicine, believes some of the tragic health consequences of diseases like smallpox and polio have been forgotten. 

"I think the problem is the dread diseases that were solved in many ways in the United States by vaccination programs have become so distant from the public mind that people no longer fear these diseases," said Huberfeld.

A portion of the discussion centered on childhood immunizations and vaccine refusals.  State Epidemiologist Kraig Humbaugh says vaccine refusal in the Commonwealth is relatively low. 

"Less than two percent of certificates on file are either medical exemptions or religious exemptions," said Humbaugh. "There's no provision under our law for a philosophical or personal exemption."

April Young, an assistant professor in the UK Department of Epidemiology, says distrust is a concern for some people.  

"There's mistrust of pharmaceutical companies, there's mistrust of government institutions, and that is contributing to vaccine refusal," Young said. "So, that has to be addressed.  Information alone will not improve uptake if it's not coupled with building trust."

Humbaugh, meanwhile, says there are currently no reported cases of measles in Kentucky.