Measles in the Evergreen State

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Washington State schools are seeing an increase number of children that are not vaccinated. The primary cause of this phenomenon is related to parents requesting exemptions based on religious or philosophical beliefs. The maps below (from WA State Dept of Health) compare the proportion of exemption rates in the different counties in 1999 and 2008. An alarming increase can be seen, in Jefferson county 13.7% of school children are not vaccinated, it is likely that some schools have a much larger proportion.

http://www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/Schools/Immunization

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The risk for outbreaks of infectious diseases is imminent and this brings risk to (1) children that cannot be vaccinated due to medical condition and (2) children that don’t develop antibodies (according to the CDC, up to 10% of children may not develop antibodies after a single measles shot). Restriction school exemptions to only children that have a medical exemption is a way to protect the community from disease.

http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/meas.html

Generation Rescue is an organization that questions the benefits of vaccination, produces false science and is famous for articulate, beautiful and influential spokespersons such as Jenny McCarthy. Generation Rescue advocates in favor of school exceptions and has managed to get their message across efficiently.

On the other hand the scientific community has proven time and again that the benefits of vaccination outweight the risks by far. The American Association of Peadiatrics, the National Advisory Committee and the Childhood Immunization Initiative all support vaccination.

It is upon Washington State legislators to take a decision based on facts, not on celebrities and protect its most valuable resource: the future. There needs to be a restriction on school exemptions. The poor choices of misinformed parents cannot continue to put a generation at risk. If school exemptions continue to increase it won’t be long before the Evergreen State turn in the Measles Rash State

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One Response to “Measles in the Evergreen State”

  1. kernika Says:

    I am in 100% agreement with your viewpoint and truly believe that parents and other decision makers for these children need to be looking at all the available data before making a big decision not to vaccinate their child. As you have mentioned, one celebrity has been able to influence thousands of parents – so why can’t there be the same message and influence for vaccinating children? I completely agree that this is a time-sensitive issue and needs to be dealt with immediately before another outbreak. I think editing the exemptions currently available and being more strict is certainly a good first step in making a change.

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