There’s a reason families are no longer devastated by polio.
Currently there is a measles outbreak spreading throughout western Washington, it is beginning to trickle into Oregon and soon enough could very well be in Idaho. Unfortunately the fact that this is even happening is frankly astonishing and could easily be prevented.
Measles was declared eradicated from the United States right around the year 2000, however, every year children travel outside of the country or come into contact with people that have recently returned. With the amount of parents choosing not to vaccinate it is causing more of those children to not be protected from diseases like the measles, mumps and even polio.
The Northwest has some of the highest rates of un-vaccinated children in the country. In the 2016/2017 school year Idaho had eight of the top ten counties with the lowest vaccination rates in the country. We are one of eight states that allow parents to opt out of vaccines for non-medical conditions of a religious or philosophical nature.
According to experts around 95 percent of a population needs to be vaccinated for the "herd" to be protected. That means for children who cannot receive immunizations because of cancer, autoimmune or other diseases the majority of other children need to be vaccinated to keep them safe from very dangerous childhood diseases, that until recently, people just took for granted were a thing of the past.
The reasons why people are choosing to forgo the right of childhood that is getting your shots over the last week of summer break or as varied as the people making that decision. Some people fear that it could cause Autism (an idea that was put out in a scientific paper by one scientist years ago and has since been thoroughly debunked) or because they believe in a more holistic approach to healthcare and sometimes just because they don't want to be told what to do.
Currently portions of our population are in an uproar because the Legislature recently added a Meningococcal Meningitis shot to be required during a child's senior year of high school. These people aren't the parents that choose not to vaccinate that are in the biggest uproar though. Those parents know it is as easy as filling out a simple application and indicating they understand that if an outbreak occurs their child could be excluded from attending school until it ends. The people in an uproar are people who feel that the government is overstepping their grounds by telling a parent how to raise their children.
I am the first person who will go with a holistic approach when my family or I get a cold. I love essential oils and believe that foods can heal, but I also know when it is time to go see a doctor and get an antibiotic. I am also someone who leans towards less government in the daily lives of citizens. I feel that it is the governments job to protect the people by insuring everyone lives with a moral code that keeps everyone safe, but that people should be able to live their daily lives the way that they see fit. However, in my opinion, vaccines fall under the category of helping to keep the general population safe. With the percentage of the population that needs to be up-to-date on their shots in order to protect the vulnerable it should be harder for a parent to opt out then to just fill out a piece of paper.
If you are a parent who does not give your children vaccines or a parent that is considering the pros or cons of vaccinating please talk to your family physician or call Central District Health Department. These men and women are professionals and are not going to administer a vaccine to your infant that isn’t safe for most of the population. They may have an allergic reaction to it and if not will still more then likely not feel well and be cranky afterwards, but those things are worth it. Watch an evening news broadcast this week and look at the children covered in a measles rash or gasping for breath through a bout of whooping cough and tell me it is not worth it. Go online and do some research on the devastating effects that polio had on generations of this nations children before the vaccine was created and tell me that the disease making a modern day comeback isn’t a terrifying thought.