I'm afraid we've become a society with too much fear -- a crippling fear -- that we alienate those with different beliefs than we have. And this belief I'm talking about specifically is vaccinations. No one wants to get sick (well, maybe those who are into lollipop parties are the exception). No one wants nearly eradicated diseases to creep back and hurt anyone. We don't have to get all crazy and start banning children who aren't vaccinated from attending child care centers and preschools, do we? Or should we?
The Sunday Telegraph and Daily Telegraph in Australia are launching their own pro-vax campaign called 'No jab, no play' with a nod from the medical association. The vaccination rates in the suburbs of Sydney and Manly are below 85 percent -- a high rate is considered 95 percent. The goal is to stop no-vax kids from entering child care facilities and preschools, and to punish their "free-riding" parents (their phrase) who refuse or forget to get their kids immunized.
Dr Steve Hambleton told The Sunday Telegraph:
We need to lift the barriers, we need people to make an active decision to immunise because we have a responsibility to our children to protect them, and a responsibility to the community to contribute to herd immunity.
So what do we do here? Force vaccinations? Herd immunity is reportedly only fully effective if around 95 percent of the population is immunized. Is that even possible? What about the kids who really can't get certain vaccinations?
He goes on to say, "The free-riders will actually cause a disease to occur in vaccinated children whose parents did the responsible thing." Isn't that proof that our vaccinations aren't working?
Last year in my small town, one of the kids at a private school contracted measles after a trip overseas. The child was in school, but sent home. The proper precautions were taken and no other child was affected. So should we add that we should never travel outside of our country to the list on how to best protect our kids from contracting anything? Where's the bubble? Do we need to stay indoors?!
My kids are vaccinated. But I'm not afraid to let them play with kids who haven't been fully immunized. Nor am I fearful of letting my kids play with kids who have runny noses either. Germs don't scare me. Some of the chemicals in hand sanitizers do. I don't believe we should keep our kids in Purell bottles.
This is about choice. Parents should be able to choose not to vaccinate their kids. And perhaps that choice should also apply to private schools, specifically preschools and child care centers. Maybe they should have the right to refuse kids who haven't been vaccinated if they so wish. Would all preschools do this? I don't think so. How would this affect communities? I'm not so sure, but I'm sure it would create a divide. Oh your kids attend that preschool ... some moms would say with uncertainly and fear in their voices when meeting families that attend the "conscientious objector" or no-vax school. Some are even calling to change the anti-vax conscientious objector tag with "vaccine refusers." That's certainly to the point. Is this discrimination? In their quest to create herd immunity, are they bullying the anti-vax crowd? It seems they are. And the divide gets even bigger.
What do you think? Should preschools be allowed to ban no-vax kids if they wish? Should they not allow any of the loopholes parents use when they don't vaccinate? Do you vax?
Image via USACE Europe District/Flickr