Vaccine Rates Get Shot in the Arm

By Scott LaFee

December 5, 2018 5 min read

Since 2015, when California legislators banned nonmedical vaccine exemptions, more and more kindergartners are getting all of their required vaccinations before beginning school. In 2017-2018, for example, 95 percent of students had all of their required shots.

But where there's action, there's reaction. Researchers report that the rate of medical exemptions has increased, jumping to 0.7 percent in 2017-2018. Exemptions, which require signed, written statement from a licensed physician, must explain the physical condition or medical circumstances that prohibit vaccination — and whether the exemption is limited to certain vaccines or is temporary.

Body of Knowledge

Information travels at different speeds within the body depending upon the type of central nervous system cell involved. Some messages travel as "slow" as half a meter (1.6 feet) per second, while others cover 120 meters (393 feet) in the same time. Given the actual distances involved, it's all quite speedy.

Get Me That, Stat!

An FDA-approved pill called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, has been shown to prevent HIV infection. But while rates of its use are rising — 78,000 Americans had PrEP prescriptions in 2016, compared to under 14,000 two years earlier — the numbers are still alarmingly low. Experts estimate more than 1 million people in the U.S. could benefit from the drug.


49 million: Number of people who fell ill with the flu in 2017

960,000: Number of flu-related hospitalizations

79,000: Number of flu-related deaths

37: Percentage of adults who got a flu vaccine, down from previous years

Source: CDC

Stories for the Waiting Room

Treatment (or lack thereof) of mental health problems is driving up visits to emergency rooms. In a study of California hospital data from 2012 to 2014, researchers found that mild mental health diagnoses were associated with a 3 percent increase in ER use, while moderate and severe diagnoses were associated with 12 and 23 percent increases in ER use, respectively. The researchers say their findings are likely relevant in other parts of the country.

Doc Talk

Diaphoresis: Sweating, especially to an unusual degree

Phobia of the Week

Allodoxaphobia: Fear of opinions

Number Cruncher

A tall Starbucks hot chocolate made with whole milk and with whipped cream (340 grams) contains 330 calories, 162 from fat. It has 18 grams of total fat, or 28 percent of the recommended total fat intake for a 2,000-calorie daily diet, according to the Calorie Count database.

It also contains 68 milligrams of cholesterol (23 percent); 150 milligrams of sodium (6 percent); 33 grams of total carbohydrates (11 percent); 1.5 grams of dietary fiber; 27.8 grams of sugar; and 11.3 grams of protein.

Adding season's greetings is calorie-free.

Never Say "Diet"

The Major League Eating record for fruitcake is 4 pounds, 14.25 ounces in 10 minutes, held by Sonya Thomas, who set the record in 2003 and is still trying to digest the stuff.

Best Medicine

My doctor took one look at my gut and refused to believe that I work out. So I listed the exercises I do every day: jump to conclusions, climb the walls, drag my heels, push my luck, make mountains out of molehills, bend over backward, run around in circles, put my foot in my mouth, go over the edge and beat around the bush.


"After you find out all the things that can go wrong, your life becomes less about living and more about waiting." — Author Chuck Palahniuk in "Choke"


Q: What percentage of your DNA do you have in common with every other human?

a) 60 percent

b) 61 percent

c) 96 percent

d) 99.9 percent

A: d) 99.9 percent. Chimpanzees are our closest relatives, DNA-wise, at 96 percent, but humans share 61 percent genetic similarity with fruit flies and 60 percent with bananas.

Curtain Calls

In 2009, a Nebraska woman named Diana Durre agreed to rendezvous with a Wyoming couple interested in buying a couple of her homebred Yorkshire terriers. They planned to meet beneath the "big Taco Bell sign" in the town of North Platte, Nebraska. Durre arrived early and parked her pickup truck beneath the 75-foot sign. It was very windy, and the sign's pole snapped at a welded joint 15 feet above the ground. The sign fell on top of Durre's truck's cab, killing her. The Yorkies survived. The Wyoming couple arrived after the accident.

To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: at Pixabay

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