I am not a doctor, and I raised children before the controversy over vaccines began. I had my children vaccinated because it was what their pediatrician recommended. At the time that was pretty standard. Times have changed, and I am not sure what the right answer is, but at some point it seems that common sense should play a role.
The Hill is reporting today that state lawmakers are considering eliminating the vaccine exemptions that have been granted to parents. The reason is the recent outbreaks of measles.
The article reports:
But the most recent measles outbreaks, which have infected 159 mostly unvaccinated people in 10 states, is leading some states to reconsider.
“That goes beyond religious freedom,” said Burke.
Every state requires that students be vaccinated to enroll in school, and all states allow exemptions for children who are too sick to receive vaccines or who have a weakened immune system.
Most states also allow exemptions for religious reasons, and 17 states, including Washington and Texas, allow exemptions for both religious and personal or philosophical beliefs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Both Washington and Texas have seen measles outbreaks this year.
Lawmakers in Iowa, New Jersey and Vermont, which already ban personal or philosophical exemptions, are now debating proposals to eliminate religious exemptions.
I am concerned that if these exemptions are eliminated, exemptions for more controversial vaccines will also be eliminated. I am also concerned that smallpox vaccines are no longer given to American children because the disease is said to have been eradicated in America. Unfortunately, a person recently stopped while attempting to enter America illegally was diagnosed with smallpox. I would like to think that he was the only person with the disease attempting to enter America, but I am not sure that is realistic.
The article concludes:
Outbreaks can occur in communities where there is not a high enough percentage of people who are vaccinated.
Described as “herd immunity” by public health experts, at least 94 percent of a community must be vaccinated against measles to prevent the disease from spreading.
Herd immunity protects those with weakened immune systems, babies who can’t be vaccinated or those who are too sick to receive vaccinations.
But as more and more parents claim vaccine exemptions, experts say, the disease is more likely to spread.
And federal officials have indicated the government might step in if state legislatures don’t.
“Some states are engaging in such wide exemptions that they’re creating the opportunity for outbreaks on a scale that is going to have national implications,” Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CNN last week.
If “certain states continue down the path that they’re on, I think they’re going to force the hand of the federal health agencies.”
Health committees in the House and Senate are set to hold hearings on the measles outbreaks this month.
It will be interesting to watch the hearings. Good arguments can be made on both sides of this issue.