Senate Bill 132 [which passed 16-13] would require all parents to receive information about vaccines either from a doctor or an online video before they can opt out. That’s a key change from current law, which allows a parent to refuse immunization on religious grounds by simply signing a form. Under current law, children can also receive exemptions based on medical grounds such as the immunization being dangerous or unnecessary, but these waivers can only be approved by doctors or local health authorities.
I don’t have any problem if a family refuses immunization for their children based on a sound medical evaluation from a licensed medical professional. Things like this will happen from time to time and exceptions have to be made. However, for the same exceptions to be made for people whose “strongly believe” that their religion says they should leave their children unprotected against easily preventable diseases is dangerous not only to them but to the entire public.
Senate Republicans voted unanimously against the measure, saying among other things that it “unfairly targets religious groups.” Well, good. Maybe it should. I’m all for freedom of worship, but if you belong to a religion that so thoroughly cripples your ability to think and convinces you that the god you pray to doesn’t want you to benefit from all of the advances modern medicine has to offer, then maybe it’s time to find a new god.
Sen. Doug Whitsett of Klamath Falls said he personally believes vaccination is “the right thing to do.” But “who are we to tell the parents of children that they must vaccinate … their children? Where do we get that right?” he asked.
YOU’RE THE GOVERNMENT AND IT’S AN ISSUE OF PUBLIC HEALTH. THAT’S WHERE YOU GET THE RIGHT, DUMBASS.
Seriously. These same children who aren’t getting immunized are extremely likely to come in later with cases of preventable diseases that are going to take up public resources in order to treat. In addition, herd immunity – or the protection of the unvaccinated by the vaccinated population – is only achieved after between 80%-90% have been immunized. As more people pass up this vital protective measure either because of religion or as a result of believing the incoherent ramblings of Jenny McCarthy over the American Medical Association, this protection breaks down and that’s when outbreaks begin.
Don’t believe me? Look at what happened in Wales earlier this year, when an outbreak of measles claimed its first victim. New cases are more common these days as the children who didn’t get vaccinated in response to Wakefield’s now-discredited study showing the link between immunization and autism are getting older.
Or you can listen to the experts:
Glanz JM, McClure DL, Magid DJ, et al. (June 2009). “Parental refusal of pertussis vaccination is associated with an increased risk of pertussis infection in children”. Pediatrics 123 (6): 1446–51.
Children of parents who refuse pertussis immunizations are at high risk for pertussis infection relative to vaccinated children. Herd immunity does not seem to completely protect unvaccinated children from pertussis. These findings stress the need to further understand why parents refuse immunizations and to develop strategies for conveying the risks and benefits of immunizations to parents more effectively.
Fair E, Murphy T, Golaz A, Wharton M (2002). “Philosophic objection to vaccination as a risk for tetanus among children younger than 15 years”. Pediatrics 109 (1): E2.
The majority of recent cases of tetanus among children in the United States were in unvaccinated children whose parents objected to vaccination. Parents who choose not to vaccinate their children should be advised of the seriousness of the disease and be informed that tetanus is not preventable by means other than vaccination.
Now, as far as this Oregon law goes, it’s not enough by a damn sight. Who the hell cares if these parents have to sit through a video telling them about the benefits of vaccination? Are we convinced it will change their minds at all? Do you think if they were willing to listen to a well thought out, rational argument, they’d hold this position on the issue to begin with? Maybe the thing to do would be to get those parents whose children got deathly ill because of the same choice. Show them the pictures, the videos, and all of the hospital bills (this is America after all). Tug at their heart strings, and appeal to their emotions. You might not be able to get the parents who have shut off their brains for the LORD, but you’ll probably be able to connect with the ones who made their original decision based on fear. Putting some fear of the alternative in their hearts might make enough of a difference to change their minds.
Either that, or just make it a law to get everyone covered. Forbid them from opting out unless there’s a legitimate medical reason. I mean, the government should have that right since it’s a public health issue and because the “choice of the individual” they are fighting to valiantly to protect carries the very real risk that it will bring countless others to harm.