From the story:
Instead of vaccinating her children for chickenpox, Kimberly Christensen chose the old fashioned way to immunize them – sending her kids to hang out with infected children.
“Our friends knew of someone and called us,” she said. “So we went over and the kids shared lollipops.” Her kids did get chickenpox. “It was a long month," she said.
But Christensen is not an “anti-vaccinator,” she told me adamantly. “One of my biggest frustrations is that most people think you’re either pro-vaccine or anti-vaccine, and there is no middle ground,” she said.
I can only ask, "Is she hoping she can find someone to give them mumps and measles?"
I'll also point out that if a child does not get a chickenpox vaccine, gets chickenpox and the adults in the house get it, it can be much worse for adults.
Chickenpox complications are more likely to occur in adults than in children. Despite the fact that adults account for only 5 percent of chickenpox cases per year, they account for a disproportionate number of deaths (55 percent) and hospitalizations (33 percent) compared to children.
The story also notes, following a trend also seen in California, that private schools tend to have very high rates of non-vaccination with two Waldorf schools in Seattle among the highest. It can really depend on state law as a recent NY Times article - where the options are limited - private schools will NOT allow unvaccinated students in their schools.
Washington state made it harder for parents to not immunize their children in 2008 by requiring families submit an exemption form signed by a doctor to the school. At the time, 7.6 percent of students weren’t fully vaccinated. Now, 4.6 percent statewide forgo vaccines.
Seattle Public Schools did not submit its vaccine data last year; technical difficulties apparently prevented the district from meeting that legislative mandate.
Of 69 Seattle public elementary schools in 2012-2013, only five met the herd immunity threshold for measles.
The chart for each school is interesting because it includes:
- total completed vaccinations
- total vaccine exemption
- total out of compliance
- percentage of rate of compliance by different vaccines (D/T, Pertussis, Polio, MMS, Hep B and Varicella).
The percentage total for out of compliance also could be many reasons. A quick check by me and I think I see more people who don't get the polio vaccine versus the Hep B (which seems to be one of the highest completed).
There is some irony for me as one of my older sister's had polio that affected her severely. In fact, my family was with her this past weekend and she gave us the PowerPoint that she had given to a group on her experience. It was devastating and I surely would not want this for any child.
Now we have a low-cost, great vaccine for polio - available everywhere in the world - but there are still pockets of polio in the world. You may say, "It won't come here." From the WHO:
- In 2014, only 3 countries (Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan) remain polio-endemic, down from more than 125 in 1988.
- As long as a single child remains infected, children in all countries are at risk of contracting polio. Failure to eradicate polio from these last remaining strongholds could result in as many as 200 000 new cases every year, within 10 years, all over the world.
Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus. It invades the nervous system, and can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours. The virus is transmitted by person-to-person spread mainly through the faecal-oral route or, less frequently, by a common vehicle (e.g. contaminated water or food) and multiplies in the intestine.
My sister got it from a swimming pool (that's what they believe happened).
We have a U.S. case of Ebola now and Ebola is nowhere as easy to get as polio.
Laura Kang, a Phinney Ridge mom and math analyst, was among those who responded to my email saying she vaccinates her children. After looking at the state data, she said she was frustrated.
“This is a community responsibility,” Kang said when we spoke later.
“I have a 6-month-old. She can’t be vaccinated for some viruses even if she wanted to be. She is vulnerable to all this illness that other kids can bring,” she said. “It makes me angry.”
This is a really good point. You may have a school-aged child who isn't vaccinated and you are depending on the "herd" vaccination to protect your child. But what if the mother of a child in your child's class comes to school to pick up her student with a baby who can't be vaccinated? And your child DID get exposed to a disease and gives it to the baby? Is that fair?
It is absolutely fair to ask your pediatrician to not lump multiple vaccines into one shot. It probably is more comfortable for the child and can ease fears.
The article ends on, well, what I would call a somewhat snobby note.
“My kids were exclusively breastfed, not in a daycare situation, robust healthy kids who are not going to be exposed to a lot of germs,” she said.
Nothing like putting down moms who might not be able to stay home with their childcare. Or not be able to breastfeed (for many reasons). Exposing your child to germs IS important. (Not deliberately but normal stuff.) It helps built immunity.
A mounting body of research suggests that exposing infants to germs may offer them greater protection from illnesses such as allergies and asthma later on in life.
This line of thinking, called the "hygiene hypothesis," holds that when exposure to parasites, bacteria, and viruses is limited early in life, children face a greater chance of having allergies, asthma, and other autoimmune diseases during adulthood.
In fact, kids with older siblings, who grew up on a farm, or who attended day care early in life seem to show lower rates of allergies.
Just as a baby's brain needs stimulation, input, and interaction to develop normally, the young immune system is strengthened by exposure to everyday germs so that it can learn, adapt, and regulate itself, notes Thom McDade, PhD, associate professor and director of the Laboratory for Human Biology Research at Northwestern University.
Every single one of us parents has choices to make. But decades of herd immunity have made the number of children who experience measles, polio, whooping cough, etc. plummet to near extinction.
We really don't need to bring that time back.