Vaccines protect children from illness and death caused by common childhood diseases. The goal, then, should be to increase vaccination rates among children, but instead those rates are decreasing because of the rising cost of vaccines and the cutbacks in federal spending. A new report from the Children's Defense Fund says that, as a result, the number of reported cases of measles, mumps and whooping cough is rising. In this area more than 35 cases of measles have been reported since late November at South High School in Torrance.
The United States slacks off even as UNICEF and Third World nations conduct a global campaign to immunize children against preventable diseases. But, as the children's fund notes, the battle is not over even in this country. "The potential for infection still exists in every (American) community," where for years children have been safe from serious harm from controllable diseases.
According to the fund:
--Between 1980 and 1985 the proportion of 1- to 4-year olds who got no polio vaccine rose by 40% for children of all races and 80% for non-white children.
--For children under the age of 2, immunization rates fell in those years for seven diseases: polio, measles, rubella, mumps, diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, or whooping cough.