Vaccines Save Lives
Mandatory immunizations for school children include measles, mumps, and rubella, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, poliomyelitis, and haemophilus influenzae type B, an infection that can lead to bacterial meningitis, and are a proven way to keep children healthy.
There were tens of thousands of cases of diphtheria in the 1920s, a bacterial infection affecting heart health that can lead to paralysis, before a vaccine was introduced. Between 2004 and 2017, only two cases were reported.
In 1940, there were 183,866 cases of whooping cough reported; after the introduction of the pertussis vaccine in 1948, numbers dropped. By 1955, there were 62,786 reports of this disease, and just over 15,000 cases by 2019.
Rubella, a cause of birth defects and infant deaths, resulted in 12.5 million cases until a vaccine became available in 1971. In 1981, there were just 2,077 cases reported
Paralysis was the outcome for more than 15,000 people a year, with thousands more disabled, before the polio vaccines were widely distributed in 1955 and 1963. The US has not been challenged by polio since 1979.
The measles vaccine came about in 1963; before that, 3 to 4 million US citizens got measles each year. Complications from this viral infection can lead to pneumonia or encephalitis, particularly for young children. By 1983, only 1,497 cases were reported. But with the rise in vaccine hesitancy, cases are increasing again — including one in Fairfield County this past week.
So recently proposed legislation dropping the nonmedical exemption — including religious exemption (it is the rare US religion that forbids vaccination) — from mandatory school vaccines, beginning with children in grades six and under as of September 1, 2022, is a practical law that would protect all school children.
We live in a world that is ever smaller and in which people — barring a pandemic — are in situations drawing them closer together globally. With the word “pandemic” in our daily lexicon, and most likely one to remain, every reasonable measure offering protection from infectious disease is one to embrace.
Department of Public Health statistics show that the number of kindergartners and seventh graders (statistics for other grades are not shown in current report) in vaccine compliance overall has been over 95% in recent years, which ought to result in herd immunity; but is it not a moral responsibility to do our best to protect the small percentage that cannot, for health reasons, be vaccinated? Is it right to hope that others will comply with mandates so that those unwilling are protected along with those who are unable?
Senate Bill 568 was filed as of April 5 with the Legislative Commissioner’s Office. We presume that concerns of those “against” (families divided with some unvaccinated children grandfathered in and younger members not able to attend public schools) will be addressed before the final vote.
Using any excuse to shirk this responsibility puts others at risk. Vaccinate your kids if they are going to public schools or public places, to protect everyone from preventable illnesses.
There are risks in life; some actions far outweigh any risks, though. Vaccination, with its minimal risk overall, saves lives.