Not surprisingly, the vast majority of people in the United States support the requirement that kids get their routine childhood immunizations.
Those results from a new Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll aren't surprising because the vast majority of people are fully vaccinated.
What is surprising is that with so many people supporting immunization requirements, then why do so many states have laws that make it so easy to get vaccine exemptions? And this has nothing to do with exemptions from forced vaccinations, which doesn't happen (as much as people try to jumble the issues), but simply exemptions from the requirements to have vaccines to attend school and daycare.
A new bill in California, AB 2109, will supposedly make it harder to get a vaccine exemption. How much harder? Instead of simply signing a personal belief vaccine exemption form on their own, parents will be required to have a written statement signed by a health practitioner that says the parent was given information about the benefits and risks of immunizations and the risks of certain vaccine-preventable diseases.
Making sure that parents are fully informed before thinking about choosing a vaccine exemption, especially since the decision impacts everyone else in the community, seems like the least we can do if these types of vaccine exemptions aren't eliminated all together. So instead of just being influenced by Dr. Bob Sears, who not surprisingly has come out against the California vaccine bill, or an anti-vaccine zealot in a web forum, this law will help to make sure the discussion about vaccines occurs with a licensed health care practitioner.
Now that doesn't seem so hard, especially when the consequence of choosing a vaccine exemption may mean that your child, who you have chosen to not vaccinate, gets measles or pertussis and gets another child sick who is too young to be vaccinated or who has a problem with their immune system, so that their vaccines didn't work.
The bill, which has bipartisan support, was introduced by Dr. Richard Pan, a pediatrician, last month and is supported by the California Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the California Immunization Coalition.
"Parents are on the front line when it comes to the protecting the health of their children and their communities," Dr. Pan said. "This bill empowers them with up-to-date, accurate information about immunizations. As a pediatrician, I have spent my career making sure families, physicians and public officials are working in unison to build healthier communities. AB 2109 strengthens this relationship through education to help save our children from infectious outbreaks that can only be prevented by working together."
The anti-vaccine folks, who make up a small but very vocal group, are organizing to help defeat AB 2109 though, providing their followers with phone numbers and talking points to contact members of the committee discussing the bill. Parents who support vaccines and the end of vaccine-preventable diseases should do the same and help get it passed.
"With the increase in outbreaks of common vaccine preventable diseases in California and nationally, now more than ever, parents need to get the right information about vaccines before exempting their children from immunization," said Jeff Goad, Pharm D., President of the California Immunization Coalition. "This legislation simply mandates that parents receive accurate information about the risks and benefits of vaccines and the diseases they prevent before making decisions about not vaccinating their children."
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