California kids deserve vaccination by Mary Meyer Fox and May Hafez

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In June 2015, following a long and often bitter debate, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB277, a landmark public health measure which requires all children attending school in California to be fully vaccinated unless there is a medical reason why they cannot do so.

It is difficult to understate what an essential public health measure this was. For decades, there has been a growing “anti-vaxxers” movement in California: an eclectic mix of orthodox religious groups, parents with concerns about autism, and communities who view vaccination as “unnatural.” Subsequently, there are now pockets of California where fully half of schoolchildren are unvaccinated. In December 2014, the inevitable occurred. A measles outbreak began in Disneyland, ultimately infecting 131 individuals in California, and 16 in other states. The majority of those infected were unvaccinated.

Contrary to anti-vaxxers’ claims, there is rigorous scientific evidence that vaccines are extremely effective and have an excellent safety profile for the vast majority of individuals. Vaccination remains one of the greatest scientific advances of this century and has virtually eliminated diseases that once killed thousands of individuals yearly. But to be effective, vaccination must occur in a majority of individuals. This community immunity protects vulnerable populations— children too young to be immunized and immunosuppressed people. High vaccination levels also protect against outbreaks such as the recent measles epidemic.

At a time when vaccination remains a topic of debate, it is vitally important that we publicly and vocally support SB277. Those who oppose vaccination are a small but vociferous group.
We must support our congressmen/women who passed this bill and advocate for its implementation and financing. We owe this basic public health right to our children.

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One Response to “California kids deserve vaccination by Mary Meyer Fox and May Hafez”

  1. tinakumra Says:

    Excellent points, particularly regarding the importance of herd immunity. When discussing the benefits of vaccination, not only is it important to consider the protection to the individual being vaccinated, it is crucial to take into account the protection of our vulnerable populations including those that are chronically ill or newborns that have not yet been vaccinated. Medical professionals such as State Senator Pan, a physician who helped write this legislation for California, need to continue to step up and engage families in the dialogue that vaccines are safe and effective. School systems do have a role to play as well in keeping our children safe and healthy. Thank you for posting!

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