Wealthy Hollywood parents are skipping vaccinations and now their kids have whooping cough

According to an investigation by The Hollywood Reporter, wealthy and educated parents are forgoing vaccinations for their kids in some of the most elite and affluent areas of Los Angeles, California – all this while a potentially dangerous outbreak of whooping cough spreads through the L.A. area like “wildfire.”

In a stunning comparison, the vaccination rates in areas such as Malibu, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills are apparently on par with South Sudan.

From The Hollywood Reporter:

Across California, thousands of children and babies are coughing so violently that their bodies convulse, uncontrollably wheezing and fighting to breathe for weeks. Nearly 8,000 pertussis cases have been reported in 2014 to the state’s Department of Public Health as of Sept. 2, and 267 of those patients have been hospitalized, including 58 requiring intensive care.

Adults can contract the disease, but 94 percent of all cases reported statewide involve children — and the youngest suffer the most. So far this year, three infants under 2 months of age have died statewide from pertussis, a disease commonly known as whooping cough (named for the high-pitched sound that kids make when they inhale after coughing).

L.A.’s Children’s Hospital has seen 72 pertussis patients so far this year. Many of these children suffer broken ribs because the coughing is so violent.

“A number of them have been in the ICU and very, very sick,” says infectious disease specialist Dr. Jeffrey Bender. “They cough so hard, it turns into vomiting and broken ribs; they end up intubated, to ventilate their lungs.”

The map below shows schools in the L.A. area with abnormally low vaccination rates. As the Atlantic points out, the red dots (high risk) congregate in the more affluent cities.

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Whether it’s measles or pertussis, the local children statistically at the greatest risk for infection aren’t, as one might imagine, the least privileged — far from it. An examination by The Hollywood Reporter of immunization records submitted to the state by educational facilities suggests that wealthy Westside kids — particularly those attending exclusive, entertainment-industry-favored child care centers, preschools and kindergartens — are far more likely to get sick (and potentially infect their siblings and playmates) than other kids in L.A. The reason is at once painfully simple and utterly complex: More parents in this demographic are choosing not to vaccinate their children as medical experts advise. They express their noncompliance by submitting a form known as a personal belief exemption (PBE) instead of paperwork documenting a completed shot schedule.

Close to 60-70 percent of parents have filed these PBEs. That points to a vaccination rate as low as that of Chad or South Sudan. As a result, these neighborhoods are seeing a resurgence of whooping cough that’s unprecedented. Measles cases are also at highs not seen in decades.

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But it’s not just the Westside of L.A. that coddles the anti-vaccine belief system:

They’ve arisen in working-class religious and ethnic communities — Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn, the Amish in Ohio, a Somali enclave in Minnesota — that in turn have been trailed by measles outbreaks. It also isn’t the only wealthy region of a liberal, cosmopolitan sensibility to harbor vaccine skepticism. These beliefs have impacted Manhattan prep schools and classrooms in Marin County in the Bay Area.

Parents trusting their ignorant gut and being suspicious of science were not always a phenomenon of affluent communities.

“A century ago, much of the resistance was coming from the working class, who were most targeted for compulsory vaccination: in steerage compartments on steamships rather than first class, in public schools rather than private schools, in factories rather than offices,” says Brandeis professor Michael Willrich, Ph.D. “But the contours here are anything but. It’s the story of the well-educated, upper-middle class or upper class.”

“It’s a sense of entitlement and it comes out of a customer mentality since they are often choosing their doctor and paying cash,” says UCLA’s Dr. Nina Shapiro, who is a vocal critic of the anti-vaccine movement.

Watch a report from The Hollywood Reporter in the link below:

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