The unvaccinated: Should they be unwelcomed at school?

The resurgence of measles has led to a fiery debate over whether parents have a right to opt out of vaccinating their children, even if other children or classmates could be at risk.

Measles, a childhood infection caused by a virus, was once common but just about disappeared in the United States due to the MMR – measles, mumps and rubella – vaccine.

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the measles virus. The disease is also called rubeola. Measles causes fever, runny nose, cough and a rash all over the body. About one out of 10 children with measles also gets an ear infection, and up to one out of 20 gets pneumonia. For every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die. Adults can also get measles especially if they are not vaccinated. Children under 5 years of age and adults over 20 are at higher risk for measles complications including pneumonia, and a higher risk of hospitalization and death from measles than school aged children and adolescents. (CDC)

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the measles virus. Measles causes fever, runny nose, cough and a rash all over the body. About one out of 10 children with measles also gets an ear infection, and up to one out of 20 gets pneumonia. For every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die. Adults can also get measles especially if they are not vaccinated. Children under 5 years of age and adults over 20 are at higher risk for measles complications including pneumonia, and a higher risk of hospitalization and death from measles than schoolaged children and adolescents. (CDC)

Now, 102 cases have been reported in an outbreak traced to exposure at Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim, Calif.  The disease spread to other states as the affected Disney visitors returned to their hometowns, schools and workplaces.

Highly contagious, the disease can be fatal in young children. Measles kills more than 100,000 people worldwide each year, most under the age 5.

Schools have been used to press compliance with the strong medical recommendation that all children be vaccinated. Children entering kindergarten are required to show proof they were vaccinated against measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough. In 2013, at least 94 percent of Georgia kindergartners were fully vaccinated.

Georgia parents can opt out of vaccinations by submitting a statement that vaccinations conflict with their religious beliefs or having a doctor certify that one or more vaccines would hurt the child’s health.

An AJC story today reported:

“Measles is so contagious that it one person has it, 90 percent of the people close to the person who aren’t immune also will be infected,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, the assistant surgeon general, said at a Monday news conference. “You can catch it just by being in the same room as a person with measles even if that person left the room.”

In the 14 states now reporting measles cases, some school and public health authorities are taking strong measures. Vaccination campaigns are under way. Some states are publishing school vaccination data, so parents can know the risk. Unvaccinated children are being told they will be barred from school for 21 days if any case of measles is found in their schools. Parents are being told to keep infants, who are too young to be vaccinated, out of crowded areas.

The AJC delved into vaccinations in October with a package featuring an investigation by education writer Molly Bloom and a searchable database of vaccination rates by school.

Bloom wrote a detailed story that is worth reading now in light of the concerns over the measles outbreak.

Here is an excerpt of her investigation:

Children attending more than 200 Georgia schools are in classrooms where vaccination rates fall short of the level needed to protect them from catching and spreading a variety of diseases, according to an analysis of state data by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

But when data shows high rates of students who are not fully vaccinated or of parents opting their children out of vaccinations, the Georgia Department of Public Health doesn’t take key steps that could prevent outbreaks, the AJC found.

It doesn’t check the numbers. It doesn’t focus education or vaccination programs at the schools. And not once in the past 10 years has it taken legal action to prevent or stop potential violations of state vaccination laws. Nor does it check that, during an outbreak, unvaccinated children are kept out of school, as the law allows.

Other states have taken strong measures to prevent contagious diseases. After a 2010 pertussis, or whooping cough, outbreak in California, linked to more than 9,000 illnesses and 10 deaths, that state passed a law generally requiring a doctor’s signature before parents opt out of vaccinations. Washington and Oregon have similar laws, prompted in part by concerns about anti-vaccine misinformation and rising opt-outs. In Colorado, the governor in May signed a bill requiring schools to provide information about vaccination and exemption rates upon request.

About 18 states publish information online about rates at local schools, giving parents information to help them understand the risks for their children and the potential for outbreaks. Georgia does not.

Unvaccinated children aren’t the only ones at risk, experts say. So, too, are others who come into contact with students — like infants or grandparents. Even vaccinated children can become ill since some vaccines don’t always fully protect against disease.”Even if you do the right thing and get your child vaccinated with a vaccine with 80 percent efficacy, there’s a 1 in 5 chance that your child could still get infected,” said Saad Omer, an associate professor in Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health.

Debbie Parsons’ son, Brandon, caught whooping cough five years ago, even though he had been vaccinated. Brandon, then a fifth-grader at Rocky Mount Elementary School in Cobb County, was a few months short of receiving a booster shot when he first started showing symptoms. For months, he had a cough that at times took his breath away.

Brandon was one of at least 18 students affected by the 2009 outbreak, many of whom had been vaccinated. Parsons said the disease was “a nightmare.”

“It’s very scary, especially because it’s breathing,” she said. “You’re scared to go to sleep at night because what if you miss something?”

Three years later, Parsons’ daughter, Katie, also caught whooping cough—also while in fifth grade. Katie has a genetic condition that makes it harder for her body to fight off disease, but like her brother had been vaccinated. It took her months to recover, and battling whooping cough affected her blood system, heart and overall functioning, Parsons said.

“Your body is trying to fight something that it already doesn’t have the energy to fight as it is,” she said.

The experience changed her mind about parents who decide not to vaccinate and don’t have a medical exemption. While it didn’t previously bother her, now it does because she believes it puts her children — and other children — at risk.

A poll released Monday found physicians believe the likely sources of the current measles outbreak are unvaccinated children:

-92 percent think the current measles outbreak was directly attributable to parents not vaccinating their children (3,099 respondents)

-79 percent of physicians felt that unvaccinated children, without a medical reason, should not be allowed to attend public schools (3,114 respondents)

The controversy has entered the political arena with potential GOP presidential candidate and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie saying Monday during a visit to Britain that parents should have some choice on whether to vaccinate their children. (In a quick attempt at damage control, Christie’s office issued a followup statement saying the governor believes “with a disease like measles there is no question kids should be vaccinated.”)

Over the weekend, President Barack Obama told NBC News all parents should get their kids vaccinated.

What do you think? Given the risk to others, should vaccines be mandated with few exceptions?

And should schools toughen their stance?

Reader Comments 0

80 comments
JerryInMarietta
JerryInMarietta

I understand that most vaccines are cultured and grown on chicken eggs.  If this is true then.. everyone should be vaccinated unless they have a allergy to chicken eggs, period.   There should be NO admittance to any public school, pre-school or kindergarten.  And definitely no admittance to a daycare facility where children under kindergarten age are.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

Maureen's snarky "illegal aliens don't go to Disneyland" aside, the fact remains that tens of thousands of illegal aliens swarm across the Mexican border every year.  These illegals have received no health screenings and once on American soild, they are free to waltz up to the schoolhouse door and demand admittance.  Recent years have seen an exponential increase in TB, polio, chicken pox and a host of other communicable diseases that were once all but eradicated in the United States due to vaccinations.

Google "Illegal Alien Disease".  There are numerous stories on this subject.

The small number of parents who do not want to vaccinate their kids?  Most likely, they are not carriers.  Those illegals waltzing across the border are more likely to carry these diseases.

As far as the Disneyland outbreak being traced to some lady from India?  Just remember, the Hindu's think it is good luck for a cow to take a dump in their house.  They even spread the patty around for good measure.

Nasty ba$+@rds.

Betsy Ross1776
Betsy Ross1776

Should the unvaccinated be welcome at school?
No, hell no.
They shouldn't be welcomed in society.
If you want to go unvaccinated, go form your own colony on a desert island where you can infect one another and die out, like nature intended.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

For anyone who wishes to expand his/her thinking regarding this concept, I offer the following link to my blog's entry, entitled, "What's behind the Polarization of America?"  Here is the last sentence from that brief entry on my blog:


"Will we continue to think in terms of individual survival or will we began to think in terms of the survival of humanity, as a whole, one being in communion with all others?"


https://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2014/05/10/whats-behind-the-polarization-of-america/

class80olddog
class80olddog

You can only hope that the children that die from these diseases are only the ones whose parents refused to have them vaccinated - that would be "natural consequences".  Unfortunately, like drunk driving, that is not the case - it is the innocent that die.

class80olddog
class80olddog

do not enforce their own rules - English teachers get after me!

class80olddog
class80olddog

Apparently schools DO require children to be vaccinated (unless medical or religious exemption is documented).  The problem is that schools, like they do with everything else (attendance, discipline, failing EOCTs) does not ENFORCE their own rules.  They go ahead and allow parents to enroll students who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated. 

TaxiSmith
TaxiSmith

I have a friend (who is a physician) who is convinced that his son's mild/moderate autism was brought on by one or more childhood vaccinations. My two children were vaccinated, and have had no problems. One doctor has written that the number of problems caused by vaccinations is "small." But not so "small" if your darling child is one of those "problems." Vaccinations are generally safe, I believe. But don't be so critical of those who fear them. No one knows what has caused the spike in autism in the United States, so don't  "pooh pooh" detractors until the full truth is known.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@TaxiSmith  "No one knows what has caused the spike in autism in the United States, "


That sentence should really say "No one knows what has caused the spike in DIAGNOSED autism in the United States"

class80olddog
class80olddog

@TaxiSmith  Jenny McCarthy is convinced that vaccines caused her son's autism, too - she just doesn't want to admit it was her defective GENES!

ScienceTeacher671
ScienceTeacher671

@TaxiSmith There's apparently some evidence that the rise in diagnosed autism cases might be related to the concomitant rise in sonograms. But that's not getting much airplay.

redweather
redweather

@1611  Alex Jones is your authority?  I sure hope we're not neighbors.

liberal4life
liberal4life

Those parents who refuse to vaccinate their kids are like those workers who do not join a union yet expecting the benefits of the union negotiated working conditions. Their children are much safer from the diseases because so many of other parents around them vaccinate their kids.

Public (and private) schools should refuse children who are not vaccinated.

Antagonist
Antagonist

Why would we want to stop vaccinations and return to third world country heath status?

Looking4truth
Looking4truth

Look who parents are looking to for parenting advice - Jenny McCarthy.  If ever I took parenting lessons from her, I would want someone to revoke my parent license!

Public schools have a duty to protect the health of the children attending there. Vaccination should not be optional if you want to send your child to public schools.  There are plenty of schools where parents can send their kids that match their belief system.  Documented health reasons should be the only reason to not vaccinate. 

kataugirl
kataugirl

ABSOLUTELY!   Public schools should require ALL kids, with the exception of those that are immune system compromised, to be vaccinated.  Parents who refuse to vaccinate their children can always go to a private school that will allow it,  or home school their children.    

Betsy Ross1776
Betsy Ross1776

@kataugirl  or simply move to a desert island where natural selection will take its course -- buh bye.

mad_russian
mad_russian

The science makes the decision simple. No vaccination means no attendance. That's the beauty of science, even if you don't want to believe it the data still has the more compelling argument.

Tom_B_II
Tom_B_II

When you want your child protected/vaccinated, do so.  Then, being exposed to the disease either won't matter or your child's disease will be mild.


Families used to take their children to infected homes so they would get the disease as a youth ... and then be protected.


Making mountains out of molehills.

redweather
redweather

@Tom_B_II  Sorry, Tom, but vaccination only significantly decreases the likelihood that one may contract a disease. The more people vaccinated, the less likely the disease will spread.  It only works as well as it can if everyone gets vaccinated.

Betsy Ross1776
Betsy Ross1776

@Tom_B_II  Tom B, you are a moron. Babies cannot be immunized for things like MMR until they are more than a year old. So, your theory that "just get a vaccine and you'll be OK" is an idiotic one. Our babies deserve to live too.

Mack68
Mack68

@Tom_B_II

You do know that there are children too young to get vaccines and others who cannot due to a medical condition, right?

10 children died in the 2010 pertussis outbreak in California. They were infants too young to be vaccinated.

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@Tom_B_II


Tom.  


Families may have taken children to infected homes to be exposed to chicken pox, but in general they certainly did not take their children to homes infected with measles or polio or mumps. Ironically, some anti-vacccers actually DO hold "parties" and expose children to various illnesses in hopes of developing strong immune systems.  However, even chicken pox can result in complications that can cause death.  Prior to the  vaccine around 100 to 150 people died each year from complications cause by chicken pox. That may not seem like a large number, but compare it to the alarm over ebola in the US...

Mack68
Mack68

@Quidocetdiscit @Tom_B_II

Yes. And there are other issues with chicken pox. I contracted it at age 11, which led to a somewhat intractable case of Bell's palsy. For a while they considered surgery to reduce the pressure on the facial nerve. The risk of neurological complications (not to mention death) from contracting chicken pox increases with age. 

Caycec
Caycec

Parents who are making this decision now have it relatively easy.  Their kids are mostly old enough not to have a long term problem with measles and mumps (and they have told themselves there is no such thing as herd immunity).  But wait until the first case of rubella or polio starts to show up.  

DrMonicaHenson
DrMonicaHenson

I'm a parent of now-adult children who had them vaccinated on schedule back in the late 1980s. At the time, I was concerned about the number of vaccinations spaced so closely together at such a young age, but I was far more concerned about the dangers of not getting them vaccinated. I have a great-aunt who died of diptheria at age two. My grandmother, father, aunts, and uncle never forgot Margaret Ruth. My aunts, now in their 60s and 70s, still speak of her on occasion to this day. Child deaths are devastating to families--needless child deaths are mind-boggling in a civilized society. As a public school administrator, I believe strongly that all children should be vaccinated, with extremely few exceptions, and only for certified medical reasons. 

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

Better question...

is education a privilege or an entitlement?

If one sees it as an entitlement, the answer is "No".

If one sees it as a privilege, the answer is "Yes". 

Astropig
Astropig

I think that because we have (mostly) grown up in an age where the ravages and horrors of these childhood diseases have been rare, we have collectively forgotten how much suffering they caused in generations past. We've become a little complacent because we haven't sat next to a cute girl with leg braces as a result of polio or had to turn our eyes away at the hearing aids in the ears of a boy that developed inner ear problems as a result of mumps.If these idiot parents that refuse to vaccinate would stop being so selfish and use the single greatest health advance of the 20th century,we could eradicate most preventable suffering among the people we love the most. I personally repudiate any politician that doesn't encourage full vaccination for every child and would totally support any school system that refused admittance to any student that didn't have the full vaccination regime.


It's a science that works-It should be required for every school child.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@Astropig One other "Aunty Em" recollection: The neighbor of ours got measles while in early pregnancy (from a student in her class) and her baby was born WITHOUT A BRAIN.  The baby died within 12 hours.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@Astropig I agree with Astro.  You need to "protect" your child from vaccines ends when they come in contact with me or my child!


I am 62 and I DO remember those diseases.  Lost an aunt to lockjaw. I suffered through both measles and chicken pox, and as an adult caught mumps from a kid I was teaching.  I remember when the polio vaccine became available dissolved in sugar.  I had my younger daughter vaccinated against the chicken pox virus as soon as it became available--the first kid in my county!  I rushed to get the shingles shot! And who my age does not bear the scar from smallpox vaccination?


Be smart, parents, or live in isolation, but don't bring your unvaccinated kid out in public!

bu2
bu2

@redweather @Astropig 

My father had polio as a child and they didn't think he would live.  However, he fully recovered.

Astropig
Astropig

@teachermom4 @Astropig


Safe,effective,cheap vaccinations are science's gift to mankind. Idiot parents that would believe a "celebrity" over the advice of their own doctor are beyond irresponsible,trending toward criminal.


Being able to prevent these diseases and not doing it is like hitting the lottery and giving back the winning ticket. 

redweather
redweather

@Astropig  I certainly haven't forgotten, for I attended elementary school with polio victims.  It is impossible to forget the metal braces they wore on their legs.  As for people younger than I, there is no excuse for not educating themselves about the dangers of infectious/communicable disease.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@redweather @Astropig 


Remembering, also, the dramatic and traumatic change in the lives of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt once he contracted polio, while visiting a children's camp, during his late 30s.

Sara0507
Sara0507

@bu2 @redweather @Astropig My dad had polio too.  Unfortunately, he had an abusive step father who made him crawl on his hands down the stairs every morning for breakfast. It was beyond unimaginable.   I don't think people realize the gift we have been given with vaccines.  


teachermom4
teachermom4

@Astropig Spot on. Some friends and I were discussing this a while back. Our collective memory is so short, it's like those diseases were minor inconveniences and childhood rites of passage, instead of the potentially deadly and debilitating diseases they actually were. What will those in the anti-vax crowd do when their own beloved child becomes the victim of the "rare" but dangerous/deadly side effects of some of these innocuous, inconvenient diseases? It's just baffling to me that anyone would be willing to take that risk, even if they've never personally known anyone to experience these effects.

Jonathan Sparrow
Jonathan Sparrow

It`s a problem of safety of others. If your child may be ill, you`d better stay at home and don`t let them spread infections or diseases. Unfortunately we have enough irresponsible citizens in our country and I don`t want this list to be get longer. People should be responsible, I`m too tired of various problems our society faces...

class80olddog
class80olddog

When I was growing up, you had to provide proof of inoculation or you could not attend school - same with my kids.  What happened to that?  Or is individual liberty worth more than public health? 

DrMonicaHenson
DrMonicaHenson

@class80olddog Parents are permitted to enroll their unvaccinated children in public schools by filing a statement of religious exemption or medical exception. 

redweather
redweather

@DrMonicaHenson @class80olddog  The religious exemption is a travesty.  The idea that we should have to expose our children to dangerous diseases out of deference to a person's religious belief is astounding.

WPWW
WPWW

@redweather @DrMonicaHenson @class80olddog 

Classic overreaction to pro-eugenics propaganda.  The CDC 'facts' are exaggerated (at minimum), and they're controlled by the Globalist Elite who push Mathusian eugenics.

class80olddog
class80olddog

Jenny McCarthy should be tried and executed as a mass murderer!