Vaccine laws cause controversy around the country

Zoe Sanders, News Editor

In the past few years there has been an increase around the world in not vaccinating children. Vaccines serve to protect people from one or more diseases by stimulating the production of antibodies. Infants are too young to receive certain vaccines but are still vulnerable to the disease, so they rely on others for protection. It’s a similar situation for those whose immune systems are compromised and cannot receive vaccinations. Reasons for not vaccinating can vary from believing that they can cause autism to conflicts with religious beliefs. 

I strongly believe people can do whatever they please as long as it doesn’t involve others. Deciding not to vaccinate your kids is not something to be debated,” senior and Certified Nursing Assistant Kelsi Dolezal said. “It can seriously affect those who are unable to get vaccinated.” 

Infants and those who are autoimmune compromised rely on something called herd immunity, a form of immunity that occurs when the vaccination of a significant portion of a population provides a measure of protection for individuals who have not developed immunity. According to The Washington Post, in order to enact herd immunity in the United States between 90 to 95 percent of the population must be immunized.  

The more people won’t vaccinate their children the more susceptible they [the children] will be to spreading diseases as well as increase the likelihood of having eradicated diseases show up in society,” senior and future neurologist Kailee Rae Yabut said.  

Previously eradicated diseases such as measles have recently made a reappearance, with an outbreak in Washington with 66 cases recorded in two counties. Other countries such as Madagascar and the Philippines have also seen outbreaks with over 900 dead in Madagascar and 136 dead in the Philippines. Even Costa Rica who hasn’t had a domestic case of the measles since 2006 and hasn’t had an imported case since 2014, has a 5-year-old unvaccinated French boy isolated with a suspected case of the measles. 

“I feel like people are being irrational with their choices, hearing that a vaccine causes autism and then deciding that they’d rather take a huge risk by not giving the vaccine to prevent their kid from getting a disease like the measles,” senior Johnny Le said. “Additionally, travelling while not vaccinated is incredibly irresponsible and puts even more people at risk.” 

With the rising amount of people not getting their children vaccinated, schools are also having to consider what their policies should be on allowing unvaccinated children into the school and possibly endangering other children who are vaccinated. Lawmakers in Arizona are moving forward with three bills that will make it easier for parents to opt out of getting life-saving vaccinations for their children. On the opposite side upon their recent measles outbreak, Washington is proposing a bill that would require a measles vaccine for school aged children, with exemptions for religious and medical reasons. 

Schools should be able to deny a child entry because it’s in the schools best interest [to protect the other children]. Vaccinations make society safer from contracting disease, [but] it doesn’t mean that you won’t get them [from other sources],” Yabut said. You have to weigh and analyze the [benefits of] vaccinations and decide whether to put [unvaccinated children] out into the public [school system]. 

In the OPS policies and regulations handbook, last revised in 2014, sites various required vaccinations based on age and grade. “Exemptions [of vaccines] will be granted for: Medical exceptions for health reasons substantiated by a signed statement from a physician. Religious conflict substantiated by a notarized affidavit from the student or the student’s legal guardian if the student is a minor.” The handbook also references section 79-222 of Nebraska law that says a student can be admitted into the school if the immunization process has started and will be continued as rapidly as possible. 

“I believe laws should be put into place to require parents to vaccinate their children, with exceptions for religion of course,” Dolezal said. “I also feel that some vaccines are more important than others. At this time, I feel measles especially should be required since we’re seeing outbreaks of that again.”