As some parents' refusal to have their kids vaccinated continues to be a topic of heated, contentious debate, the consequences of "opting out" have become more apparent. For one fifth grader named Aidan Walsh from Manitoba, Canada, that means studying from home for up to three weeks after an older student may have been infected with measles. That's because Aidan's mom Kim Paul doesn't believe in immunization. She reportedly feels he's safe at home with homeopathic remedies. And as a result of her decision to keep Aidan unvaccinated, she feels pressured by his school.
Paul told CBC News, "To me it almost seems like a bullying situation, you know. Get the needle, get the needle, if you don't get the needle, you can't go." There's that so often misused and abused word again -- bullying. The use couldn't be more wrong here.
Perhaps Aidan's school -- and many schools here in the U.S. -- encourage moms like Paul to vaccinate, or else alert them that their child cannot come to school until the vaccine-preventable disease cases (or even single case) have cleared. At the most, I could see how Paul and other anti-vaccine moms may feel "pressured," but only as much as a school pressures parents to make sure their kids are treated for lice or don't come to school with any other illness or ailment that would put other kids at risk.
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She's not being "bullied" -- just asked to do right by her child and others in her child's school. As provincial health officials noted, parents of unvaccinated kids would have to keep them away from school to prevent infection and "ensure his/her safety as well as the safety of his/her peers."
Of course, I can understand wanting to manage a child's health in a particular way. There's a time and place for homeopathic treatments. But when it comes to infectious diseases, parents like Paul don't have much of a choice. If they insist on keeping their children unvaccinated, their kids have to stay home for the good of the whole -- like it or not. And if it's not about the community, then considering that 92 percent of measles cases last year were in unvaccinated people, moms like Paul would do well to consider the looming risk for their own child, as well.
How do you feel about this mom claiming she's being bullied?
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