George Skelton at the LA Times observes that we all tend to value health very highly, and that that makes it surprising that so many people are hostile to vaccinations.
You parents who won’t permit vaccinations because of a personal belief, well, you’re free to practice that belief any way you’d like — as long as it doesn’t threaten other people’s kids.
Americans do have freedom of religion — but not the freedom to jeopardize the health of other Americans.
That’s the way it should be, anyway, and how a bill struggling through the Legislature would make it in California.
It passed one Senate committee; it has to pass two more; if it’s passed by the Senate it will get a stiff fight in the Assembly. If it passes Jerry Brown might sign it.
Besides polio, kids are required, before entering school or child care, to be immunized for such communicable diseases as diphtheria, measles, mumps, whooping cough, chickenpox and hepatitis B.
But California has the “personal belief” exemption that increasingly has resulted in parents refusing to inoculate their children. Besides a religious belief, many are scared that vaccinations can cause other ailments.
Many mistakenly believe, for example, that a measles shot can lead to autism — a discredited theory promoted in 1998 by a lying researcher. His study later was retracted by the journal that published it. And many studies since have shown there is no link between vaccinations and autism.
But Wakefield injected it into the memestream, and it may never get out.
Experts say that low vaccination rates fueled the measles outbreak that started at Disneyland in December, sickening 157 people and inspiring the legislation.
“Each year we’re adding to the number of unvaccinated,” Pan says. “If it gets low enough, that’s when disease is able to spread. Because so many people haven’t experienced these diseases, they don’t know how serious they are.”
I haven’t experienced falling off a tall building, but I know how serious it is. People should pay better attention.
During the Senate Education Committee’s fiery hearing last week — attended by hundreds of angry parents — a polio survivor told about being stricken at age 7. She urged passage of the bill, speaking in a voice apparently weakened by respiratory problems.
Later, she was mocked on Facebook by two opponents of the bill. “Lisa” referred to “the hysterical polio survivor” and added: “Poor woman needs emotional therapy.” “Annika” responded: “Polio was really DDT poisoning.”
Oh, man, that’s revolting.
In 1951, before there was a vaccine, more than 10,000 Americans were afflicted with paralytic polio. I was one. My strong single mom guided me through the ordeal. She was a saint.
But if there had been a polio vaccine that she had prevented me from receiving, I never would have forgiven her.
Parents who won’t allow their children to be vaccinated are — let’s put it politely — misguided. That’s their problem — and their kids’.
The Legislature should gather enough courage to make sure it’s not also everyone else’s problem.
It should indeed.