Putting your whole community at risk

Columnist Christine Edwards.

Columnist Christine Edwards.

Diseases are making a shocking comeback due to parent’s refusal of vaccinations.

School is supposed to be a safe, healthy environment for children to learn and thrive, and many educational institutions do all they can to protect students from harm.

This is the principle reason children are required to be vaccinated before entering public and even private schools, as well as day care. Not only are these institutions protecting the individual children receiving the vaccinations, but the entire community is being safeguarded from the spread of these preventable diseases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state and local vaccination requirements for day care and schools are the foremost tool for limiting the spread of preventable diseases. However, all states allow medical exemptions. This is entirely understandable, although this is very uncommon, occurring in about 1 percent of individuals. What’s more, 48 states allow religious exemptions and 19 allow philosophical exemptions.
Currently, California is one of the states allowing for both religious and philosophical exemptions. However, that will change on July 1 of this year with the signing of State Bill 277 by Gov. Jerry Brown, which eliminates the philosophical exemption from California’s school vaccination requirements.

This issue is controversial because dormant diseases are making a comeback recently due to parent’s refusal of vaccinations for their children. The belief that vaccines are linked with autism is the largest driving force behind it. Maybe some parents see no point in protecting against diseases they have never encountered themselves. In fact, four diseases thought to be long gone are making a scary comeback across the country.

In 2000, a panel of experts from the CDC proclaimedthe transmission of measles was eradicated from this country. A recent outbreak of measles in New York City caused 19 confirmed cases, and about 60 cases of this preventable disease are reported each year in the U.S. When non-vaccinated children or adults travel overseas to other countries where measles is still a common illness, they become infected and bring these diseases back to the U.S., contaminating others. 

The same situation applies to mumps, whooping cough and polio, all making appearances on school campuses nationwide, some even as close to home as the East Bay, where a recent outbreak of whooping cough took place and 16 students were infected.
The only way to stop these completely unnecessary outbreaks of diseases which should have been wiped out long ago is to change legislation on a state level, requiring all schools to vaccinate children and not allowing exemptions for religious or personal beliefs.

This is the health of other parents’ children and the entire surrounding communities that are at risk due to the reckless behavior of a small group of new-age and radical parents. In the majority of these cases, these parents are not physicians and should not have the authority to make decisions of this caliber when it concerns other’s children.

Current legislation will follow the direction of Gov. Brown, no longer allowing parents the privilege of choosing whether or not to vaccinate. As more cases of these outbreaks emerge, public officials will hopefully have no choice but to implement vaccinations for all children, with the exception of allergies.