Vaccinations of absolute importance

The idea of some parents choosing not to vaccinate their children usually comes down to a question of the parents’ ethics.

However, in some states, such as California, there are laws on the books that can allow children to attend school without being vaccinated.

A story published by NPR details a story about a father, Carl Krawitt, whose six-year-old son has battled leukemia for four years.

His son’s immune system cannot handle a vaccination as a result of the chemotherapy he’s received for cancer treatment.

Because Krawitt’s son cannot be vaccinated, he must attend school without protection from diseases such as measles. However, Krawitt lives in Marin County, Calif., where the rate of “personal belief exemptions” is high. The so-called exemptions allow parents to send children to school without the children receiving vaccinations from communicable diseases such as measles, polio and whooping cough.

These exemptions are wrong on many levels. Parents have a duty to make sure their children are protected from preventable disease.

Much of the anti-vaccine nonsense comes from people such as actress Jenny McCarthy, who claimed that vaccinations lead to autism in children.

The only reason a child should not be vaccinated is if they are not old enough to receive certain vaccinations (infants, for instance), or if the child’s immune system is compromised because of other medical treatments, like Krawitt’s son.

Before vaccinations, diseases killed thousands of people. Measles alone killed more than 530,000 people according to pre-vaccine data. The most recent reports suggest only 61 morbid cases of measles, a decrease of 99 percent in cases.

It is true that vaccinations do not give someone a 100 percent chance of avoiding disease. However, in 95 percent of patients who are vaccinated, they avoid catching those deadly diseases. Think of this as “herd immunity,” where the more people vaccinated means a smaller chance of disease spreading.

Parents: vaccinate your children. Not only are you protecting them from diseases that are avoidable, you protect children who cannot receive vaccinations due to compromised immune systems.

For those of you who aren’t yet vaccinated against the major diseases, what are you waiting for? Get out there and vaccinate yourself, so you can avoid exposure to deadly diseases — and prevent others from catching them, too.

Don’t let anti-vaccinators scare you into thinking your child is better off not getting vaccinated.

If you do, the consequences may be dire.