One issue that has come up on occasion is the political orientation of the anti-vaccination movement. Many have assumed that it has a Left-liberal bias. I’m actually moderately skeptical of a strong political association (e.g., Michele Bachmann). But the map above suggested to me that we should test the proposition that there’s at least a state level correlation between exemptions and vote for Obama in 2012. The data was easy to get.Possibly a more relevant and, as it turns out, stronger and more robust state-level correlation (r = .42, p-value = .004) exists between non-medical exemption rates and infant mortality rates. The relationship is, perhaps surprisingly, an inverse one. That is, the higher the infant mortality rate, the more likely kids in a state are to receive their vaccinations. The lower the infant mortality rate, the more likely parents are to forgo vaccinating their children.
The raw Obama vote % and vaccination exemptions correlated at 0.08 (p-value 0.59). Pretty much nothing. But, I thought it might be more interesting to look at Obama vote for whites. Here the correlation was 0.25 (p-value 0.09). This is still a modest correlation, but it does suggest a political tinge. But rather than a standard Left-Right axis, I think we’re seeing a “crunchy counter-culture” sentiment.
We could start speculating about causation (ie, do vaccinations cause children to die, or does a relatively high proportion of dying children prod people into vaccinating more?), but that'd probably be futile. I'd peg this as a classic example of "correlation does not [necessarily] imply causation". To the extent that there is much to healthier states also being less inoculated states, it's presumably because of people's understandable reluctance to take medicine when not ill. I've never been sick enough to miss a day of work in my adult life. Not surprisingly, I've never elected to get a flu shot, either. I don't get sick, so no, I'm not going to go congregate around a bunch of people who do get sick so that I can have someone poke me with a sharp object to protect me from an ailment I'm not going to suffer from anyway.
It's excusable for a healthy, mature adult to pretend to be superman, but it's less forgivable when a vulnerable infant without any agency of his own is involved. Don't worry, my son has been getting and will continue to get all his recommended vaccinations, hard though it is for daddy not to rip the nurse's jugular out as she's making his boy scream bloody murder.