It is commonly assumed that many people working in Silicon Valley possess higher intelligence, as the area is replete with scientists, technologists, and engineers. However, according to the California Department of Public Health (DPH), many of those same people are too smart–or not intelligent enough–to vaccinate their children.
Wired examined DPH data from well-known companies’ day care centers, and found that of 12 day care facilities associated with the high-tech companies, six reflected below-average vaccination rates.
As Wired explains, vaccines become effective when enough members of a community vaccinate their children, a concept called “herd immunity.” Because a miniscule percentage of children in a community remain immune to a vaccine, rendering it ineffective, to keep the community safe from measles, for example, requires at least 92% of the children of a community to be vaccinated.
The Measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, commonly referred to as MMR, had eliminated measles by 2000, but then an article that was later discredited asserted that MMR could be linked to autism. Bolstered by celebrities who fanned the flames of rebellion, many parents stopped vaccinating their children, leading to a decline in vaccinations since 2000.
A recent outbreak of measles that was triggered at Disneyland has spread to over 100 people across the continent. Children under age 5 who contract measles can develop pneumonia, encephalitis, or even die.
California exempts children from vaccinations if the parents cite medical or religious reasons, or claim a “personal belief exemption,” or PBE. MMR vaccinations in the state have plummeted from 95.4% in 2000 to 92.6% today, barely over the crucial 92% herd immunity line.
Wired did cite companies whose employees acted responsibly; Gilead Sciences, Genentech, Electronics Arts and Oracle all showed high vaccination rates.
Two California state senators have plans to repeal the personal belief exemption, which would produce higher vaccination rates.