Anti-Vaxxers And Easy Access To Nonsense Exemptions Are Destroying Herd Immunity

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shutterstock_72109813-280x189The public school system requires incoming students to produce proof of vaccination. The practice is something that nearly rid the United States of some of it’s most severe illnesses, including measles and whooping cough. These diseases are making a comeback because an increasing amount of parents are using something called a “philosophical exemption” to skirt giving their children the necessary immunizations. This ridiculous exemption is causing herd immunity to plummet – and it needs to become way harder to claim.

From Education Week:

Data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that, in 2012, between 90 percent and 95 percent of kindergarten students in most states had received two doses of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. The data showed the same range of coverage for most states for the diphtheria, tetanus toxoid, and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccination.

By contrast, just 85.7 percent of Colorado kindergartners had received the MMR vaccine, and just 82.9 percent had the DTaP vaccination, the data show. Of the Colorado students whose parents claimed an exemption, 93 percent chose the personal belief exemption.

Colorado has one of the loosest vaccine exemption allowances in the country. While there do exist anti-vaxxers who deny vaccines to their children on the basis of personal conviction, there are those who skip the vaccinations out of convenience. A representative from the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition says, “We want to close that convenience loophole. When you choose not to immunize, there are consequences not only to your child and your family; there are consequences to your community as well.”

A bill has been introduced that will hopefully do just that. House Bill 1288 will “require schools to collect information about their vaccination rates and to provide it to parents upon request.” Colorado has very permissive school choice laws, so parents would then be able to transfer children who are immune-compromised to schools with higher vaccination rates.

Proponents of the bill also believe making vaccine information publicly available “could hold schools accountable for enforcing existing laws and encourage them to promote vaccinations through efforts like school-based health centers and pop-up clinics at school registration events.”

This is great. More states who have been embracing lax exemptions around vaccinations need to do something similar- and fast – so we can attempt to reverse the damage that lax exemption allowances and fear mongering anti-vaxxers have caused.

(photo: Nomad_Soul / Shutterstock)