September 9, 2012
A Deadly Choice
What if I told you that it was possible for your child to contract a disease that they have been immunized for because of another person's beliefs? Hundreds of thousands of children are entering schools this fall without protection from deadly diseases. More parents are deciding not to vaccinate their children against measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, and other dangerous diseases. According to a case report from the Center for Disease Control (CDC ) in August 2011, a fifteen year old unvaccinated child and his family who had unknowingly contracted measles while in Malaysia boarded a plane headed for California. There were 97 contacts with people made by this child and out of those 3 were infected including a 19 month old child. 79 more contacts were made from the 19 month old exposing 176 persons in all. One vaccination could have prevented this. Out of about 4 million new students entering school this year there are at least 135,000 kindergarteners who were exempt from "required" vaccinations. In some states, 1 in 10 did not get vaccinated (Bowman, 2008). Those are staggering numbers. Think of your child's class of about 20 to 30 students. Statistics show that there are at least 2 to 3 unimmunized children in your child's classroom. Saad Omer, an assistant professor at Emory University's School of Public Health in Atlanta, along with several other leading vaccine researchers stated that in states where vaccine exemptions are high the rate of whooping cough or pertussis are 50% higher than other states. In combination with the 1 in 10 statistic, the rates become ridiculous. Due to these high exposure rates parents who make the choice not to protect their children against deadly diseased do not have the right to enter those children into public schools.
On February 17, 2009, NBC Nightly News reported a story of a group of children who had contracted meningitis in Minnesota. One of those children died. On May 10, 2008 an outbreak of whooping cough occurred at a school in California. As a result officials closed the school until the epidemic subsided (Offit, 2011). Numerous outbreaks have occurred since then infecting school age children in all too many cases. 131 people were infected with an outbreak of measles in August of 2008. (Bowman, 2008) Why then, do we ask ourselves, are our children getting sick from diseases that vaccines are made to prevent? The unfortunate answer is that these disease outbreaks are on the rise due in part to parents choosing not to have their children immunized. It is their right.
The debate over whether or not to immunize a child, has been a cause for concern for parents ever since immunizations hit the scene in the mid -20th century. In 1973, a doctor and philosopher of medicine by the name of John Wilson, made a claim to the Royal Society of Medicine in London that he believed the pertussis vaccine caused brain damage in children. From 1956 to 2011 countless studies on adverse effects have been conducted. "During that time epidemiological studies had clearly shown that [vaccines] didn't cause brain damage or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and advances in neurology and genetics had better defined the real causes of the problems (Offit, 2011)." All related research since 1973 has proven that immunizations are as safe and effective as they can be and that there is no direct correlation to the previous injury accusations that cost us millions of tax payer dollars. Still the scare frightened parents who were looking out for the best interest of their children. The 1973 theory caused a lot of scared parents for file claims in court.
During the time following Dr. Wilson's claim, case after case of parents claiming that an immunization had left their child paralyzed, mentally retarded or struck with autism claimed the attention of the courts. Millions were awarded in damages...