Epiphenom - April 29, 2011
Religious groups reduce vaccination rates
By Tom Rees
The Netherlands has a healthcare problem. Despite a high overall vaccination coverage, in the last two decades there have been epidemics of poliomyelitis (1992-1993), measles (1999-2000), rubella (2004-2005) and mumps (2007-2008).
These epidemics were all largely confined to an area stretching from the south-west to the north-east of the country. This is the Dutch Bible belt - shown in the graphic - where there are a relatively high number of orthodox (aka fundamentalist) Protestants. Almost all patients in these epidemics belonged to the orthodox protestant minority and were unvaccinated because of religious objections.
But what's not clear is whether Protestant minorities have a low vaccination rate, and whether that is really linked to their religion. After all, they are also more likely to be rural, and low-income.
So Wilhelmina Ruijs (Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre) and colleagues looked to see whether regions of the Netherlands with more Orthodox Protestants have lower vaccination rates, after controlling for urbanization, poverty, and immigration.
It turns out that they do. Vaccination was a little lower in areas with a lot of Orthodox Protestants - 93.6%, compared with 96.9% elsewhere. That's a small difference, but it only takes a small drop in vaccination rates to decrease 'herd' immunity to the point where an epidemic can break out.
More interestingly, 84% of the variation in vaccine coverage from one area to the next was down to the presence of these churches. The other factors had relatively little influence.
Ruijs, W., Hautvast, J., van der Velden, K., de Vos, S., Knippenberg, H., & Hulscher, M. (2011). "Religious subgroups influencing vaccination coverage in the Dutch Bible belt: an ecological study" BMC Public Health, 11 (1) DOI: 10.1186/1471-2458-11-102
This article was found at:
Religious group refuses to immunize children, leading to mumps outbreak
Study linking autism to vaccines was elaborate fraud that led to outbreaks of disease and endangered lives of children
Childhood diseases nearly eradicated until an unethical U.K. doctor began to scare parents with vaccine conspiracy theory
How Safe Are Vaccines?
Vaccination dramatically cuts childhood disease
Vaccines and Autism: the zombie meme that won't die
Proposed New York bill would make it easier for students to obtain religious exemption from vaccines
Malawi Christian sect refuses to vaccinate children against measles claiming it is God's will for them to get sick
Some Zimbabwe sect children forcibly immunised for measles, countless others die needlessly
Zimbabwe sect member murders wife after she tried to vaccinate their children against deadly measles outbreak
New measles out-break in Zimbabwe kills 70 more children in two weeks, unvaccinated sect kids at risk
Moderate members of Zimbabwe sect join health teams to stop extremists from killing children out of religious ignorance
Zimbabwe Apostolic sect puts faith before children's rights, prefers uneducated or dead kids over vaccination
Zimbabwe sect father jailed just 18 months for allowing four children to suffer and die needlessly from measles
Zimbabwe measles epidemic worsens after Easter services of religious fundamentalists who oppose vaccinations
Measles outbreak in Zimbabwe reveals Apostolic sects endangering children by refusing to vaccinate them
Unvaccinated children of Apostolic sect in Zimbabwe continue to needlessly die from measles
Zimbabwe health officials insist they will not use law to compel sect members to vaccinate kids in midst of deadly measles outbreak
Zimbabwe sect that shuns vaccinations is hiding sick members from health authorities in midst of measles epidemic
Zimbabwe police assist with door-to-door vaccination after sect children die from measles
Conflict between parental and children's rights at center of Zimbabwean debate over forced vaccinations of sect children
After needless deaths of unvaccinated children Zimbabwe plans law to criminalize medical neglect