An article in today s Wall Street Journal notes the trend in several recalcitrant states towards making evasion of vaccination somewhat more difficult for fearful, superstitious parents. The states highlighted are Oregon and Colorado. In the latter state, only 85.7 percent of the kindergarteners were protected against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), while in OR, fully 6.4 percent of the kids were exempted for non-medical reasons.
Twenty states still permit schoolchildren to avoid being vaccinated by a so-called personal belief or philosophical waiver signed by his or her parents. Forty-eight states allow religious exemptions although there is no religion that expressly forbids vaccination to prevent contagious diseases, and Mississippi, which allows neither exemption, has attained number one status in achieving a 99.9 percent kindergarten vaccination rate. The result of lax vaccination requirements has been periodic upsurges, even epidemics, of measles, mumps, and pertussis (whooping cough).
Some parents object to mandatory vaccination, insisting that they should have the sole decision-making authority as to what their children receive, medically. Others simply object to vaccines altogether, under the simplistic and baseless belief that vaccines cause various illnesses themselves, including autism, although that theory has been completely debunked. A vitriolic anti-vaccine group (blithely referred to as a consumer group that lobbies on vaccine safety issues), so-called National Vaccine Information Center, has fought against tightening vaccination requirements and plans to keep on doing so.
ACSH s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan had this to say: Since approved, licensed vaccines are as safe as any medication on the market, and since studies have clearly shown their benefits and their near-complete lack of risks, it is ridiculous for parents to insist on getting their own way on this matter. Why? Because protecting not only their children but all the children in the class is also their responsibility, and if one child is not immunized, he or she can spread the infection to other unvaccinated classmates. That s exactly why routine childhood vaccinations must be made mandatory. The phony philosophical exemption should be eliminated, totally, and I d demand a responsible clergyman to explain to me why anyone needs a religious exemption before granting one.