The Battle for Vaccination – It Does Not Only Impact YOUR Kids
This recent NPR reported highlighted the complexities and challenging dynamics of childhood vaccination; furthermore, it truly emphasized just how personal vaccination policy is for families in our country.
The article began by highlighting the story of the Moore family, hailing from Austin, Texas – about six years ago, 10 year old Georgia Moore was diagnosed with leukemia. As cancer treatment requires chemotherapy, Georgia’s immune system was very vulnerable; therefore, while she did not attend school, her parents were afraid that her younger sister, Ivy, attending school might carry back dangerous diseases to Georgia. The Moore family was particularly wary of this threat of infectious diseases, as Texas (along with 18 other US states) allows nonmedical exceptions from vaccination requirements. Children lacking vaccination have a much higher probably of being infected with, and in turn transmitting, infectious disease – this of possibility transmission is even more threatening for children like Georgia who had a lowered immune system.
Luckily, Georgia was not required to receive extensive chemotherapy treatment, and is successfully cancer free today!! However, since then, her mom, Courtney Moore, has become a leader in the Texas vaccination debate, advocating for the removal of the law allowing non medical vaccination exemptions. One of Moore’s core arguments is that by not vaccinating one’s child, they are putting the entire population at risk.
This article continued to site some interesting statistics regarding vaccination exemptions – I was surprised to learn that the number of “conscientious exemptions” in Texas increased from 2,314 in 2003 to 44,716 now! It shocked me how many children are vaccinated and that this number is GROWING! I was even more astounded to learn that unvaccinated children come from areas where families are highly educated and higher-income. This surprised me, as one of the primary reasons why people don’t vaccinate their kids is because of false linkage to vaccines causing autism – I would have thought that more educated families would have realized that these studies linking the two were debunked. I wonder what are some was to transform the narrative and dialogue regarding vaccination
A final particularly interesting component of this study was the discussion of the “clusters”of unvaccinated children. For instance, while Texas itself has 98% of children vaccinated, at the Austin Waldorf School (a private school costing over $13,000 annually), more than 40% of kids are unvaccinated! This completely destroys the idea of “herd immunity.” While there is not data regarding unvaccinated kids in individual public schools, many parents are advocating for such information to b public so that parents can be aware of risks that their children face.
Source - http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/11/18/502344599/texas-parents-have-unanswered-questions-about-school-vaccination-rates (NPR, November 18th, 2016)