Because it is Forbidden
Sabrina Rahim doesn’t practice any particular faith, but she had no problem signing a letter declaring that because of her deeply held religious beliefs, her 4-year-old son should be exempt from the vaccinations required to enter preschool. She is among a small but growing number of parents around the country who are claiming religious exemptions to avoid vaccinating their children.
And by doing so, to put countless other children and adults at risk – a small but growing number of parents who feel entitled to endanger other people for no good reason.
[P]ublic health officials say it takes only a few people to cause an outbreak that can put large numbers of lives at risk. “When you choose not to get a vaccine, you’re not just making a choice for yourself, you’re making a choice for the person sitting next to you,” said Dr. Lance Rodewald, director of the CDC’s Immunization Services Division. All states have some requirement that youngsters be immunized against such childhood diseases as measles, mumps, chickenpox, diphtheria and whooping cough. Twenty-eight states, including Florida, Massachusetts and New York, allow parents to opt out for medical or religious reasons only. Twenty other states, among them California, Pennsylvania, Texas and Ohio, also allow parents to cite personal or philosophical reasons.
I didn’t know that. I’m staggered. There’s a public health law, intended to prevent the spread of infectious disease, and twenty-eight states allow people to refuse for religious reasons? Forty-eight of the fifty states give exemptions for religious or ‘philosophical’ reasons? Well you might as well just give blanket exemptions ‘if you don’t want to’ – and say the hell with public health.
Unvaccinated children can spread diseases to others who have not gotten their shots or those for whom vaccinations provided less-than-complete protection. In 1991, a religious group in Philadelphia that chose not to immunize its children touched off an outbreak of measles that claimed at least eight lives and sickened more than 700 people, mostly children. And in 2005, an Indiana girl who had not been immunized picked up the measles virus at an orphanage in Romania and unknowingly brought it back to a church group. Within a month, the number of people infected had grown to 31 in what health officials said was the nation’s worst outbreak of the disease in a decade.
One of God’s little jokes, was it?