Colorado’s House Health Insurance and Environment Committee has passed a bill that would make it more difficult for parents to opt out of the state’s child vaccination requirement. The bill would mandate a state-sponsored education program for parents who don’t want their child vaccinated and would force those parents to “acquire the signature of a health care professional confirming disclosure of possible health risks ‘to the student and the community.’”
Similar measures have passed in three other states, while many other states are considering the question of mandatory vaccinations for school attendance.
The debate in Colorado was passionate.
State Rep. Dan Pabon (D) proposed the bill to ensure that parents are more informed and “that they’re not just opting out simply because of convenience,” according to the Denver Post.
“Vaccine refusal results in higher rates of vaccine-preventable disease,” Pabon said. “This is a public health issue. These are very serious diseases.”
Colorado has the sixth-highest rate of non-vaccinated public school kindergarteners. The bill will also mandate all licensed schools and day care centers to release public records on the percentages of their non-vaccinated children.
“There are kids who can’t get vaccinated because they’re immuno-compromised and are being exposed to vaccine-preventable diseases,” Pabon argued on Thursday. “To add on top of that, older populations that have medical conditions are also at risk.”
Although the bill would not eliminate the personal belief exemption, parents opposing the legislation argued that increased education mandates could lead to the erosion of parental rights during Thursday’s testimony before lawmakers.
“Parents have a constitutional right to parent their children,” Susan Lawson, whose daughter developed encephalitis after a routine vaccine when she was a year old, told CBS Denver. “I am not an uneducated woman.”
Anti-vaccination advocacy group National Vaccine Information Center has also attacked the proposal as one that “singles out and discriminates against a minority of parents with sincerely held personal beliefs … by assuming they are uneducated and should be forced into a state approved ‘education’ program.”
When my mother heard of the breakthrough by Jonas Salk in developing a vaccination against polio, she fell to her knees and thanked God for his mercy. We, today, have absolutely no conception of the rank fear that gathered in the breasts of parents prior to the polio vaccine. Every cold in our family would put her on edge. And all of us grew up in an age before vaccines for measles, mumps, and whooping cough. These diseases were — and are — childhood killers. I’m sure the controversy today over vaccines would perplex her to no end.
The odds of a child dying from measles are 50 times greater than the child experiencing any life-threatening side effects from that vaccine. Prior to 1963 before the vaccine was introduced, there were 4 million cases of measles per year in the U.S. with an average of 450 deaths. On the other hand, there are severe reactions to the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, rubella) in only 1 of about 2 million doses. What rational parent makes a choice not to vaccinate their children?
The supposed link between autism and vaccinations has been debunked over and over, and yet the belief still persists. The Centers for Disease Control examined the question of autism and the safety of vaccines in general:
Evidence from several studies examining trends in vaccine use and changes in autism frequency does not support such an association between thimerosal and autism. Furthermore, a scientific reviewExternal Web Site Icon by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) concluded that “the evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal–containing vaccines and autism.” CDC supports the IOM conclusion that there is no relationship between vaccines containing thimerosal and autism rates in children.
The IOM also recently conducted a thorough review of the current medical and scientific evidence on vaccines and certain health events that may be observed after vaccination. It released a report in August 2011 on 8 vaccines given to children and adults that found the vaccines to be generally safe and serious adverse events following these vaccinations to be rare.
We are paying a price for our scientific ignorance. Parents who don’t have their children immunized do so largely because they think the diseases are wiped out or there is little chance their children will be infected. But because of falling rates of vaccinations among children, these diseases are making a roaring comeback:
Measles, mumps, whooping cough — all deadly diseases. Until recently, they were virtually eliminated thanks to vaccines that prevent kids from getting sick.
But now doctors see an alarming trend — more and more people are coming down with these diseases.
“Kids die from measles on a regular basis. Kids are in hospitals and can die from whooping cough very commonly. So these kids are at risk,” said Dr. Scott Krugman, Chairman, Department of Pediatrics, MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center.
Here in Maryland, cases of whooping cough are skyrocketing — tripling from 123 cases in 2011 to nearly 370 last year. Outbreaks of measles and mumps have swept through states across the country.
The explanations made by parents for not vaccinating their kids are pathetic, as you’ll see on the next page.