Deliberately unvaccinated students put other children at risk


Give extra credit to Michelle Bachmann

Despite the successes of childhood immunizations, wrote Penn Nursing researcher Alison M. Buttenheim…controversy over their safety has resulted in an increasing number of parents refusing to have their children vaccinated and obtaining legally binding personal belief exemptions against vaccinations for their children.

People who cannot get immunizations because of allergies or compromised immune systems rely on “herd immunity,” the protection they get from a disease when the rest of the population is immunized or immune, explained Dr. Buttenheim. If a high number of children go intentionally unvaccinated because of personal belief exemptions, herd immunity is compromised, she said, giving a disease the chance to spread rapidly…

Vaccines are one of the great public health achievements of the last couple of centuries,” Dr. Buttenheim said. “They protect us from diseases that used to routinely kill hundreds of thousands of children in the United States and still kill hundreds of thousands globally. It’s not just important for a child to be vaccinated, it’s important at a population level to have high rates of coverage.”

In 2008, a measles outbreak spread in California. It was traced to a child whose parents had decided not to vaccinate him. He brought the disease back from Europe, infecting other children at his doctor’s office and his classmates. The boy’s parents had signed a personal belief exemption affidavit stating that some or all of the immunizations were against their beliefs, thereby allowing their son to go unvaccinated before entering kindergarten. California is one of 20 states that allow such exemptions.

Dr. Buttenheim plans to test several interventions at the school level, including new incentive structures for schools to increase adherence rates. She believes the school nurse can play a key role in encouraging parents to get children immunized. “We know everyone is heavily influenced by social norms and pressure,” she explained, and school nurses can set the expectation that children get fully vaccinated. “I think the school nurse can really act as a gatekeeper here, and reset the norm in favor of immunization.”

One of the reason we have government – as opposed to libertarian anarchy – is to protect the overwhelming majority of the population from the ignorance and foolishness of a small number of citizens. We have traffic lights and rules for 4-way stops at intersections. We don’t leave the decision-making up to who has the biggest SUV on the street.

If Dr. Buttenheim’s well-intentioned plan is as ineffectusl as I think it will be – we need to have the Feds step in and provide oversight to the sillyass states that let parents decide it’s OK to place the children of others in danger. There is no shortage of stupid regulations like this around the nation. This is one of the dumbest.

3 thoughts on “Deliberately unvaccinated students put other children at risk

    • eideard says:

      Central problem is the Typhoid Mary effect. They carry disease vector to school, neighborhood – which doesn’t affect kids already vaccinated; they in turn carry illness home to siblings too young to be vaccinated.

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