Seattle and Vaccinations

Good story from KUOW on vaccination rates (thanks to reader Wow  ).  I had heard about this trend of more well-to-do families not vaccinating their children at higher rates than other families. Good map of Seattle Schools and vaccination rates.

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).  
There are several reasons parents might exempt their child so it's hard to know if it's vaccine fear/dislike.

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. 
If even one person with polio got into the U.S.:

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. 

From WebMD:

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.


Po3 said…
I also heard the story - and what I gleaned is that polio is not an issue as the herd vaccine is at a high enough rate to be effective.

Measles, however is a concern.

I also heard that SPS does not do anything about missing vaccine paperwork for students. Policy states the student should be sent home; but SPS does not do that as they need the student in school for the October headcount that determines funding.

I wonder if clinics were to come to schools with low compliance rates and offer free vaccines more students may be vaccinated. (pipe dream)
Crazy Town said…
Christensen is a mom at my kid's school. I am shocked by the selfishness of this. I know of at least two pregnant teachers there this year. This comment is staggering: “It is those parents’ responsibility to vaccinate their own children if they want them to be protected from a disease,” Christensen said, “and not my responsibility to vaccinate my children according to their schedule – but according to what I think is healthiest for my children.”

Fine, don't care about OTHER people's kids, only your own. BUT, what about the teachers subjected to your madness?

Anonymous said…
I find this fad so frustrating. I have a child who could not complete one of the potentially epidemic disease vaccine protocols due to a serious vaccine reaction (extremely, extremely rare! One in a million, and she is fine, just can't have the last dose.) thus, unfortunately, adding to the statistic of opt-outs-it's just one dose of one vaccine, I promise.

We have the ability to make these diseases a nonissue for my kid and for seriously immunocompromised children, pregnant women, and countless other vulnerable people. Vaccine research is the gold standard of drug research- they are incredibly safe, and population wide, and if we could just get compliance, almost unbelievably effective. A modern miracle, just waiting for us to save ourselves. Instead I worry whenever there is another outbreak (did you know measles is 17 times more communicable than Ebola? Each case of measles spawns 17 more- it is wildfire), knowing that these people's misunderstanding of science is putting our entire community, and my small child, at risk.

Anonymous said…
I was just going to pose the same question.

Our child's pediatrician actually asked parents to leave the practice if they were not going to vaccinate their children. She did not want her other patients and families to be put at risk. How do teachers, especially those that are pregnant or have young children, feel about being with a population of students with such low vaccination rates?

I have a vivid memory of standing in line at school to get a vaccine shot (1970s). I still have the scar on my arm. I am very thankful my parents made sure I was fully vaccinated, and wish we had the chickenpox vaccine when I was younger.

old timer
Po3 said…
Aren't the adults in a school building most likely to be protected by vaccinations? I would think the bigger issue is babies.

I also have to wonder: has the city thought this through with their PreK program? What is the vaccine policy going to be? Will they offer free vaccines to low income students?

Have they even thought about it?
Anonymous said…
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Anonymous said…
This is a metaphor for the "whatever is best for me" mentality that has become so prevalent in certain populations.

Like I said on another thread:

Vaccinations are based on group health and assume group compliance in order to be effective.

Wait until these anti-vaccine crusaders want to be first in line when the ebola vaccine is introduced.

--enough already
Anonymous said…
Vaccination is partly why we went Waldorf. A lot of the option schools have people who couldn't afford Waldorf or wanted a more diverse community.

Patrick said…
The chicken pox vaccine does not provide lifelong immunity. The vaccine is relatively new, and it's not yet certain how long the immunity lasts, so there's no adult booster schedule set. Getting a case of chicken pox as a child, however, does provide lifelong immunity. It's a reasonable choice to go through a relatively minor disease as a child in order to certainly prevent shingles as an adult, and that's probably what we would have done if our child hadn't gotten it in preschool.

That's just chicken pox, the case for other vaccines is overwhelming.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
Wait- you may have that wrong, shingles is caused by having chicken pox at some point. Avoiding it is how you would avoid shingles. There is currently mounting evidence that though you probably still can get shingles as an adult having had the vaccine, it is a milder version. But you are right- it is too new to really know that yet., especially for an elderly population, which is who we'd really worry about.

Anonymous said…

I believe your chicken pox/shingles correlation is reversed. Having chicken pox is what can allow shingles to take hold as an adult:

One of my kids got chickenpox after her first vaccination before her booster was due, so I need to make sure she gets the shingles vaccine as an adult. My son had both chickenpox vaccinations, and he shouldn't get shingles.

Adults need to be concerned about unvaccinated children. Vaccines don't last forever, after all. If only we could guarantee that only those parents who don't vaccinate their kids would get the disease.


Anonymous said…
Patrick, you've got your facts slightly wrong. Adults who have HAD chickenpox as children are at risk to get Shingles, not the other way around. There is a good Shingles Vax recommended for adults over 60. Anyone who had a case of Chickenpox as a kid should get it. Getting Chicken Pox as an adult is dangerous and likely by the time our vaxed kids are adults there will be a booster. I am going to ask my ped about this when my kids are teens. I think in Japan they are already doing boosters.

To the person (people) I have deleted; we don't allow name-calling. If you wish to make your point, go ahead but you won't be calling those you disagree with names.
Patrick said…
You're right, but the point remains getting the disease as a child is usually pretty mild and prevents more serious cases as an adult. The vaccine is still a work in progress.
Anonymous said…
GEM is correct -

Shingles arise from a dormant version of the virus that causes chicken pox. If you contract the virus (as opposed to being vaccinated) - the virus may become dormant within your body and resurface years later as shingles.

Anonymous said…
As someone that has had both chicken pox and shingles (incredibly painful and left scars), both as a child, I can tell you your facts are wrong, Patrick. Shingles is a reactivation of the chicken pox virus that lies inactive in your nerve roots.

Anonymous said…
"Adults need to be concerned about unvaccinated children. Vaccines don't last forever, after all. If only we could guarantee that only those parents who don't vaccinate their kids would get the disease."

Don't worry SPS is doing a great job insuring Seattle will be childless in 10 years.

Ha Ha
Anonymous said…
People get shingles who have had the chickenpox vaccine. It does not prevent you from getting shingles. We chose to have our kids get chickenpox rather than the vaccine. The vaccine comes with many extras like aluminum that I didn't want added to my kids bodies.

We vaccinated for other things like polio.

Most people are not anti-vaccine but rather delayed and selective. There are some who completely forgo all vaccines but they are in the minority.

Anonymous said…
I know of two kids who have had shingles after getting the chickenpox vaccine as children.

Unknown said…
According to the CDC, two doses of chicken pox vaccine will prevent 98% cases of chickenpox and of the remaining 2%, those cases will be mild. The only way to guarantee you will not get shingles is to not get chickenpox or the vaccine. Persons born prior to 1980 are presumed to have gotten chickenpox; therefore it is not possible to guarantee that you will not get shingles. One third of adults will have at least one attack of shingles in their lifetime. The shingles vaccine, which is 14 times as potent as the chickenpox vaccine, prevents shingles in only 50% of people who receive vaccinations, and 66% effective at preventing post-herpetic neuralgia (residual chronic pain from a shingles attack.) Neither naturally acquired chickenpox nor the chicken pox vaccine prevent shingles, but the percentage of immunocompetent children who develop shingles after receiving a single dose of chicken pox vaccination is much lower than those who acquired chickenpox naturally. How this will pan out in those who have had two doses or , eventually, adults is unknown. I had chickenpox when I was a child. I had shingles as a young adult. All of my biological children had chickenpox as well as shingles before the age of 24. However, having said that, if there was anyway to lesson my chances of getting shingles, I would take them, and I when I am older, I intend to get immunized against shingles even though I have already had them, as they can also reoccur. Shingles has a very high PIA quotient for most people. For a little light bedtime reading on facts on chickenpox and shingles, check out the CDC's monograph here
Anonymous said…
Does the mom Kimberley realize that now her kids are at risk of getting shingles ( a localized reactivation of the chickenpox virus which is now dormant in their nerve roots. This is a very debilitating condition which is potentially very serious for elderly or immunocompromised folks (e.g. due to chemotherapy, medications for autoimmune diseases etc) and is totally avoidable by having the chickenpox vaccine.
Her kids might not be thanking her when they're 60 years old or run-down, and battling an excruciatingly painful, unsightly rash that can cause longterm postherpetic neuralgia (pain).
Why anyone would knowingly expose their kids to an infectious disease is beyond me. Yes, we all often had chickenpox as kids and did fine - but there are risks of more serious sequelae with it (kids can develop encephalitis, pneumonia), not to mention risks to the community -nonimmune adults who can be serious effected, non immune pregnant women and their fetuses (miscarriage, birth defects), infants etc.
A lot of things we do in a civilized society are for the common good of society - not just for our own families benefit. Vaccination is one of those things.
It's a selfish choice - to burnish ones own 'nature-momma' credentials - at the expense of their kids health, and that of the community at large.

pro vaccination
Anonymous said…
OMG millions of people in the US have had all the common childhood diseases without issues...get over it.

This is simply a push by the vaccine manufactures to stop the declining sales. Come on think about it. Why don't they go and vaccinate everyone in the Philippines or Mexico where there are 10,000 of cases a year?, just kill these childhood diseases at the source. There are good reasons they want to shoot us up and it starts with the misplaced open border policies pushed by the democrats which are destroying this country. Read the fall of Rome and you will understand the path this country is on.

It's curious how all the pro-vaccine folks simply ignore the Spontaneous Mutation Rate of Measles Virus and the connection to children being vaccinated and the new data showing the ever decreasing effectiveness of vaccines. Some evidence points towards mass immunization as the driving force that could cause outbreaks. The science explaining this has been readily available for many years now. Viruses adapt and become resistant to the antibodies contained in vaccines, and in the process the body’s own immune system is not allowed to develop natural immunity. It's double jeopardy for those folks who took a risk with a injection then had a false sense of immunization security.

So keep on drinking the cool aid and running up the profits for doctors and big pharmacy.Don't let science or facts cloud your thinking.

Oneborn everyminute
Anonymous said…
Everyone understands that teachers, as adults, are free to immunize themselves as they see fit BEFORE they get pregnant, right?

Just like I made sure I had vaccines as an adult because I really wasn't sure what my status was, and, didn't want to take a chance (as an adult, I know accidental pregnancy can happen as birth control can fail).

We all get choices. That is how it should be.

It is not selfish to not vaccinate your child. It is a choice.

The low level of mortality and morbidity rates of certain diseases make some parents skip a vaccine.

Ethically, as the parent is making the health care decision for a minor child who is unable to form informed consent and unable to understand the risks/benefits, the parent owes the strictest duty of care to ONLY that child, not to any other. That is not being selfish, that is being ethical. So, if a parent is disinclined to give a 5th booster to whooping cough, for example, because the child had a mild adverse vaccine reaction to the 4th booster, and, the parent decides that the vaccine status of their child confers 'good enough' protection to prevent that child's death or serious adverse and permanent health problem, then, they should choose accordingly, e.g., not vaccinate.

It is true there are immunocompromised individuals or persons too young to vaccinate or persons with certain dis-regulated immune systems for whom immunization is contra-indicated, but ethically, an adult cannot immunize a minor and expose that minor to 'undue risks' for the benefit of others (I am emphatically NOT stating vaccines involved undue risks!!). Consent must be based on the health benefit (vs. the risks) accruing to their particular child. If their choice to vaccinate benefits others too, that is great as well, but, it is not a driver of a decision.

All adults can always get themselves vaccinated. Teachers know they are around little kids some of whom have incomplete vaccinations, and, the teachers can choose their own personal vaccines accordingly.

Is there a more fundamental right of privacy than to one's own body?

Anonymous said…
So what's up with all the nuts and nuts allergies? When I was in school I NEVER heard of a SINGLE kid that was allergenic to peanuts, zero none! Is there an immunization connection? I think 90% of the bag lunches contained peanut butter sandwiches.

The number of school-age kids with peanut allergies has doubled in the past decade. Yet scientists can't quite put their finger on what makes the legume such a threat or why the allergy has become so prevalent.

Theories abound, though, and most involve an overactive immune system. "We have done such a good job of eliminating the threats that the immune system is supposed to manage, that it's looking for something to do," says Anne Muñoz-Furlong, CEO of the nonprofit Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network. Parents feed their kids more handy snacks these days, she says, and many of those contain peanuts or their derivatives. "We're bombarding the immune system with these [food-based] allergens, so it's attacking those instead." Indeed, food allergies in general are on the rise.

keep drinking
Anonymous said…
Wow. I'd been hearing about this report on the radio but hadn't looked at the actual numbers. I'm shocked at the low level of compliance at some schools, especially the "out of compliance" rates. McGilvra, at < 68% compliance, and with out of compliance rates of 30%? Similar rates at Montlake, and only slightly higher at Laurelhurst & Bryant. I'm glad to see that Lowell (with its medically vulnerable population) appears to be enforcing compliance with an 88% compliance rate, and 0% out of compliance. View Ridge also has high compliance (is that the UW/Children's parents in play?) Thurgood Marshall has a 50% compliance rate (is that actually right?)

I knew that Seattle was a hot bed of anti-vaccination sentiment, but I'm just shocked at the numbers. I hope publishing the numbers will cause schools to take a second look at their compliance.

Anonymous said…
"Ethically, as the parent is making the health care decision for a minor child who is unable to form informed consent and unable to understand the risks/benefits, the parent owes the strictest duty of care to ONLY that child, not to any other. "

I am sometimes shocked at how much more selfish I've become about the welfare of my own children, than I imagined I'd be before they were born. But, not in my wildest dreams would I say that "[I] owe the strictest duty of care only to [my] own child, and not to any other" If I actually believed that, I should probably be campaigning to shut down private schools, since I could afford to educate my own children, and my tax dollars are going to educate all those *other* children.

And, I should be campaigning a lot harder to keep un-vaccinated children away from my own. Hey, I'm not going to stop supporting public education, but I think I can get behind stricter vaccination laws.

Anonymous said…
My baby is not yet a year old - thus, not yet old enough for his first measles shot. There have been no fewer than four separate occasions in his young life in which there has been a threat of measles in this city, at least one in our neighborhood. Before he was two months old, I was even more concerned about whooping cough, which had quite the outbreak here in 2012 and kills infants.

The mom who says "Oh, my kid isn't exposed to germs" is deluding herself. She (we) lives in a major city, not the boondocks somewhere. Crowded streets, public transportation, an international airport. Exclusive breastfeeding is nice (hey, my kid is too! Where's my cookie?) but it's not a disease-free hamster ball.

As a parent of a baby, I am very, very angry at the parents who knowingly put my baby at risk. Call me selfish, but I don't want to worry about my baby catching what should be a twentieth-century disease.

I noticed Lowell has a marvelous vac rate. I wonder if seeing the medically fragile kids drives the point home.

-Not Sick but Tired
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
"OMG millions of people in the US have had all the common childhood diseases without issues...get over it."
And many have not. And sadly, there are enough who have serious outcomes.

As to your question about going to other countries, did you miss hearing about the Gates Foundation's efforts in health care? Vaccinations, especially around polio, are high on their list.

It IS selfish to not vaccinate if you openly say that the herd vaccinations will protect your child. And that gets said a lot.

Keep drinking, allergies and vaccinations are two different topics. Maybe you could keep on the topic.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
The only kool aid drinking going on is the anti-vaccination crowd with the likes of Jenny McCarthy and so on. Now theres someone making money off of vaccines (or rather her anti vaccination books/media appearances). You can't believe everything you see on TV or read on the internet!

Vaccination has Literally Changed The World. Can you even imagine what it was like before - when childhood mortality and morbidity was huge as a result if these now preventable diseases. If the anti-vaccination science deniers where around 50 odd years ago we probably would not be living in a world without the likes of smallpox , polio, diphtheria etc. The fact that these people are out there now is purely because vaccination has made it so 'safe' that they don't feel there is any risk for their kids. They are complacent about these diseases because they have never seen a time when kids died of diphtheria or were paralyzed by polio. Luckily I missed this time too, but when I was growing up in the 70s there were still "rubella babies" the non-PC terms for those born mentally retarded and blind because their mothers were exposed to the mild insignificant(when non pregnant) rubella. Don't hear much about them nowadays, thank goodness, thanks to vaccination programs.
But a lot of the gains we have seen in infectious disease prevention are in danger of being eroded by the people or are actively discouraging vaccination or have been lulled into a sense of security, or who want to go natural. I am totally into 'natural' as in minimizing our exposure to toxins and chemicals in our environment (food, food wrappers and containers, toiletries, household cleaners etc) but I know nature is not always best either.
There is a huge body of scientific evidence behind these vaccines proving their benefits outweigh any potential harms, that safety and efficacy trumps adverse effects (not that there will never be any adverse effects - as with any medical intervention/drug/procedure - there are always risks but in the case of vaccination, the benefits for most people by far outweigh the risks).
I wish there was that much data proving the trade-secret substance replacing BPA in all the new "BPA - free' water bottles is safe and doesn't leach into the water, for example. How many folks are suspicious of the vaccine manufactures yet don't apply equal skepticism to other companies.
Yes, of course vaccine manufacturers want to make a profit but not vaccinating you kids because of that is "like cutting off your nose to spite your face." Personally I worry about big Chem (and the huge increase in untested chemicals we now eat, drink, breath, and bathe in) a lot more than big Pharma.

pro vaccination

PS - I though kids had to be vaccinated in order to attend SPS - isn't that why we fill out the immunization records. Otherwise, what is the point of completing it if they just let unvaccinated kids in anyway?
mirmac1 said…
Melissa, open a thread like this and you let loose the racists or just plain head cases. I remember one who said those unwashed illegals were putting us all at risk. I wouldn't waste my time on this thread.
No, this is a valid piece of information for Seattle School parents. That said, maybe next time no comments. If it continues, I'll end them.
mirmac1 said…
I see your point.

By the way, I was gratified to see a new attendee to C&I meetings, a retired teacher who wanted to hear what the heck was going on with the Prop 1B snowjob and Gates largesse. You would like her. : )
Anonymous said…
Wow, Melissa -- Thanks for the map links and the very interesting stats!

This is obviously a topic where people have very strong feelings. While this is your blog (and thus your call), you would be doing me (and I suspect many others) a great favor if you would delete the anonymous 5:06 blog post (the one with the poo, wienies, and derogatory remarks about your intellect). I am interested to read the thoughts of those with violently different thoughts than mine on this issue -- but most of us are able to post here without sounding like we are on the ST comment section.

As for vaccines -- my mother went to Girl Scout camp in the days before polio vaccines, and came home paralyzed. The pictures they took of her hiking there were the last ones her family ever had of her standing. She never walked again, and never went to school another day. When they took pictures of her in her 20s, they would try to have them retouched to take out the worst of the permanent pain lines around her eyes.

Why would anyone risk this for their -- or anyone else's child?

And then -- there is post-polio syndrome (the polio double whammy -- like shingles to chicken pox) -- but she didn't live long enough to have to go through that.

Personally, I don't have a huge problem with people who want slightly different spacing for vaccines -- and of course you cannot fault people whose kids, due to allergies, chemotherapy, or other immune problems, cannot be vaccinated, or vaccinated fully. But outside of that, I could never imagine not vaccinating my kids.

Anonymous said…
Also, I do vaccinate my children for most of these diseases as a community contribution, and not primarily to protect them. Yes, the vaccines protect them, but, with sufficient resources, they can recover comfortably from chicken pox and measles and pertussis (even with complications, we have access to significant medical resources).

But, I dream of the day when some of these diseases are eliminated. In March of this year, WHO officially certified India as being polio-free, the success of a 25 year program to eliminate polio in India with vaccines. When the campaign started, 200,000 children were crippled every year with polio in India. In March, CNN profiled the last known victim, a 4 year old girl, the last known polio case in India. Eliminating polio worldwide is an achievable dream, and when it is achieved, as it was with smallpox, we will be able to stop vaccinating our grandchildren. Until then, I vaccinate my children with that goal in mind.

Libby said…
I'm very pleased to read so many pro vaccine comments on this thread. We are fortunate to live in a county with over 300 medical practices that offer childhood vaccines, including over 20 school based health centers. Cost is certainly not a barrier to vaccination here. The vaccines are free and clinics can charge no more than $24.33 per dose, and must waive the fee if the family cannot afford to pay it.
Also, I'd like to point out that school nurses are extremely overworked. Tracking down missing immunization records and following up with the many students who are out-of-compliance is incredibly time-consuming. And there's also the element of district administration buy-in. Are they going to support absenteeism for students who are out-of-compliance on required immunizations?
Anonymous said…
I do think this is an important discussion to have, because, as I said, I was surprised when I saw those numbers. I knew vaccination was an issue in Seattle, but seeing those numbers made me realize that it is becoming a serious public health issue, one that we need to address in the school system. I hadn't realized they'd changed the law, and that the change had increased vaccination rates in the state. But, clearly, the law is not being appropriately enforced in the school system, and it needs to be. This is a school issue.

(I hope you're not getting too many of the nasty comments)

Anonymous said…
"Are they going to support absenteeism for students who are out-of-compliance on required immunizations?"

This is a tough one. My gut says I would, in affluent schools, but I do see the issue with punishing parents by keeping the kids out of school. School based clinics seem like a plausible solution, one I wouldn't suggest until I start seeing 50% vaccination rates, which is a public health threat.

mosfet said…
Regarding vaccines:
I'm in favor of vaccines in general. Why? Because herd immunity protects people who can't be vaccinated -- infants, kids with cancer, people allergic to vaccines, fetuses, etc.

I don't see much of a reason not to get vaccinated. Adverse reactions to vaccines occur, but kids also die of the flu. I think you're much more likely to die of measles than to suffer bodily harm from the measles vaccine. Some people have pointed to the rise of autism, allergies, etc in the past few decades. I shall answer that correlation does not imply causation. (Especially autism -- there was only one study showing that, it couldn't ever be replicated [if no one can replicate a study, it's not valid. It just isn't.], and the study author called BS on himself and admitted that he fabricated the results.)

It may be true that overuse of antibiotics is causing allergies, which I find to be quite worrisome. If that's true, not only are we creating antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections, but we're also giving kids allergies.

article about stomach bacteria and allergies in mice.

I remember reading an article several years ago that said that the body had two immune responses -- one where it attacked everything potentially foreign, and the second which was more discerning. The article argued that infants tended to use the first more than the second, and that it was only through practice that the body learned to use the second. The article argued that, since infants weren't getting enough minor infections where their body could practice the second immune system response, they were developing allergies. I couldn't find that article, but I found one that discusses the Th1 and Th2 immune responses (the two responses I was referring to).
NotInMexico said…
@keep drinking

Kids in other countries do get vaccinated.Vaccination rates in Mexico are much higher than in the US. When the HPV vaccine was introduced, people were mad because it wasn't available widely. It now is part of the vaccination panel: free and compulsory vaccines for all children.

I'd never met a vaccine denier/delayer until I moved from Mexico to the US. I had never met anyone with a peanut allergy either(we eat lots of nuts)
NotinMexico said…

Immunization rates in Mexico are upward of 99%
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