Parents Who Don’t Vaccinate Their Children Are Abusive

What began as a curious story of a small measles outbreak in, of all places, the so-called Happiest Place on Earth, Disneyland, has stretched to nearly 100 cases across 8 states and into Mexico.

With all the health problems that can befall people, the last thing we need is for people themselves to harm each other by not getting vaccinated against scourges that modern medicine has already eradicated.

Parents who choose not to give their children vaccinations due to irrational mistrust of medical science not only put their own children in harm’s way, but allow diseases which should remain in history books to resurrect.

As an educator who works in a public school, I have no choice but to be tested for tuberculosis every 4 years. Why? So if I am infected I don’t pass it along to children. I can’t opt out.

However, parents do have that option by filling out the California Department of Public Health’s Personal Beliefs Exemption to Required Immunizations or PBE. Last year, the PBE was revised to require the signature of an “authorized health care practitioner.” While this requirement was intended to make it harder for the form to be completed, all a parent has to do is check off the “religious beliefs” box which requires no medical employee to sign it.

A few short months ago the Ebola hysteria consumed the nation.   Yet there is much more likelihood of a child catching measles than Ebola in this country, a disease with a 90% chance of transference when in contact with an infected individual.

Luckily, the Glendale-Burbank area has been spared thus far. Glendale Unified School District Health Services Coordinator Lynda Burlison said that in the nearly 20 years she was worked in the district, “the last case of measles that I can recall was back in 2000.”

Very few parents have submitted PBEs. Still, there are some schools which have a significant number of children who do not have all their shots.

By visiting the California Department of Education’s (CDE) website and navigating to the Shots for School link, anybody can type in a zip code and click on a specific preschool, elementary, or middle school to receive immediate information.

Schools with fewer than 70% of fully vaccinated students earn a “most vulnerable” rating by the CDE.   Based on the most current information available from the 2013-14 school year, Burbank has one such school, Walt Disney Elementary (how ironic), with 62.8% of the kids there vaccinated.

Glendale, however, has four elementary schools ranked “most vulnerable” with an “increased risk for outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases”: Thomas Jefferson at 68.7%, John Muir at 63.8%, Benjamin Franklin at 60%, and Columbus Elementary at 56.1%.

Just south of Glendale in the Los Angeles Unified School District is Fletcher Drive Elementary where just 40.4% of children have all the required shots meaning more than half of the student population lacks full vaccination. There is an outbreak ready to happen.

If one occurs, those with waivers would be expected to remain home for up to 21 days, the incubation period for measles. This Wednesday nearly 70 non-immunized Palm Desert High School students have been required to stay home for at least two weeks due to an infected teen.

It is a cruel irony that since diseases such as polio and measles have for the most part been eradicated for so long, there exist few eyewitness accounts of people who have had to battle these ailments, leading some to think they are safe.

Maybe the government needs to blast billboards and websites with photos of children afflicted with measles to get people’s attention.

Ultimately, parents who don’t immunize their children exhibit the highest form of selfish behavior. They are taking for granted that the herd immunity of the community will protect their own children.

These militant parents are more than just anti-vaccinators—they are anti-society. As a parent, yes, job number one is protecting your child. But once a parent’s actions go beyond the boundaries of one’s home and will cause harm to other people’s children, the concept of one’s right to do whatever you want no longer applies.

It’s a small world after all.