By Sarah Zichterman in Opinion
The Washington State House of Representatives held a public hearing on Feb. 17 to discuss a bill that would remove philosophical and personal opinion vaccination exemptions.
The bill would still allow exemptions for religious or medical reasons.
This bill is constitutional and it is ultimately beneficial for the public health.
In December 2014, there was a measles outbreak in Disneyland. According to The California Department of Public Health, on Feb. 20, 123 people were affected. Officials are now urging people to get their shots.
The Center of Disease Control estimated that 732,000 American children were saved from death and 322 million cases of childhood illnesses were prevented from 1994-2014 due to vaccination.
Also, The American Academy of Pediatrics said, “Most childhood vaccines are 90-99 percent effective in preventing disease.”
Conversely, according to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, about 30,000 cases of negative reactions to vaccines are reported annually, with 10-15 percent due to permanent disability, hospitalization, life-threatening illness or death.
These negative reactions to vaccinations are causing people to rethink the idea of vaccinating their infants.
The main worry about vaccination—especially in small children—is the autism-vaccination theory introduced by a british researcher in 1998. This theory states that autism spectrum disorder can appear when a small child is given too many vaccinations at once. Although the paper was discredited and the scientist who published this paper was stripped of his medical license, people have still adopted it to justify vaccine exemption.
A study in March 2013 published in the Journal of Pediatrics said there is no direct correlation between autism spectrum disorder and vaccination.
In this study, the scientists found the total antigens from vaccines were the same in children with and without ASD.
According to theweek.com, “Lead researcher Dr. Frank DeStafano and his team say they hope the findings help to reassure expectant parents that the recommended vaccines newborns are supposed to receive in their first years of life are safe.”
Thimerosal is claimed to cause diseases like ASD. This hypothesis was disproved by the CDC when a reduction in thimerosal for most vaccines in 2001 was not followed by a reduction in ASD rates in children.
Many argue that there are many other harmful ingredients in vaccines. According to the CDC, worryful ingredients like formaldehyde, thimerosal and aluminum are definitely harmful to humans but only in significantly larger doses than what is found in vaccines.
However, according to cdc.gov, the Food and Drug Administration requires all vaccines to be tested for at least 10 years before they can be used.
As a result, people have not wanted to vaccinate their children. Biology Instructor Roberto Anitori said, “If enough people think that way, they are effecting the rest of the population.”
Anitori said “If you want to kill yourself, that’s fine, but why hurt someone else?”
Anitori is referencing the herd immunity model. According to the National Institute of Allergy and infectious diseases, this means when a population is immunized from a disease, the disease is contained to an extent. However, when more than 90 percent of the population is immunized, the disease is virtually fully contained.
According to Anitori, because people don’t typically see things like the flu or measles in their everyday life, it’s hard to think their children will get it. He said if an Ebola vaccine came out, “many wouldn’t hesitate to get vaccinated,” but since diseases like the measles aren’t “in-your-face” at this time, they don’t have that effect.
Although the government cannot make vaccination mandatory, it is highly recommended and for a good reason. Choosing to be unvaccinated is more life-threatening to children than many realize.
Washington State should take the right step by limiting exemptions for vaccinations. These actions force people to stop and look at the disproved and outdated reasons why they don’t vaccinate their children.