House Bill 1235 has been introduced, and seems to be grabbing a lot of headlines. What the bill does in part is to revise the mandatory vaccination law and state:
No child entering public or nonpublic school, or a public or nonpublic early childhood program in this state, may be required to receive any immunization or medical procedure for enrollment or entry. The Department of Health may recommend any immunization for school entry but may not require them. No school may use any coercive means to require immunization.
Let me preface this by noting that the sponsors of the measure are good people, but reducing the number of people who are vaccinated against serious preventable disease runs the risk of causing health catastrophes that don’t need to be. Were my mother – a school nurse for many years in Pierre – still alive, I’m sure she’d have some choice words about it.
Suffice it to say, I don’t think it’s a good idea.
Let me point to the CDC – the Center for Disease Control – and the statistics for Measles for the last decade:
Of 1282 cases last year in 2019, 128 were hospitalized and 61 reported having complications, including pneumonia and encephalitis. That’s 10% of cases required hospitalization, and 5% had serious complications. That’s with modern medicine, clean water, proper sanitation, etc.
According to the CDC – the majority of people who came down with measles were unvaccinated.
1282 preventable illnesses. 128 people getting so sick they had to be hospitalized and 61 seriously ill. Pneumonia isn’t anything to mess with – I just had a daughter in the hospital for 5 days with her pneumonia having arisen from a chest cold. Pneumonia kills people. Killed Jim Henson of the Muppets. Helped kill Glen Frey of the Eagles. People die from Pneumonia every day. Encephalitis is far, far scarier.
And that’s JUST what can arise from Measles. It doesn’t address the highly contagious whooping cough, mumps, or the really scary diseases such as polio.
Roald Dahl, the author of James & the Giant Peach, and Charlie & the Chocolate family lost his daughter to measles in the 1950’s. In 1988, he wrote an essay about why vaccinations are necessary, in part:
Olivia, my eldest daughter, caught measles when she was seven years old. As the illness took its usual course I can remember reading to her often in bed and not feeling particularly alarmed about it. Then one morning, when she was well on the road to recovery, I was sitting on her bed showing her how to fashion little animals out of coloured pipe-cleaners, and when it came to her turn to make one herself, I noticed that her fingers and her mind were not working together and she couldn’t do anything.
“Are you feeling all right?” I asked her.
“I feel all sleepy,” she said.
In an hour, she was unconscious. In twelve hours she was dead.
Here in Britain, because so many parents refuse, either out of obstinacy or ignorance or fear, to allow their children to be immunised, we still have a hundred thousand cases of measles every year. Out of those, more than 10,000 will suffer side effects of one kind or another. At least 10,000 will develop ear or chest infections. About 20 will die.
LET THAT SINK IN.
Every year around 20 children will die in Britain from measles.
So what about the risks that your children will run from being immunised?
They are almost non-existent. Listen to this. In a district of around 300,000 people, there will be only one child every 250 years who will develop serious side effects from measles immunisation! That is about a million to one chance. I should think there would be more chance of your child choking to death on a chocolate bar than of becoming seriously ill from a measles immunisation.
So what on earth are you worrying about? It really is almost a crime to allow your child to go unimmunised.
There’s a reason that the public health law requiring immunization for school children has been on the law books for close to 50 years. We’re fortunate enough that we have not experienced public health emergencies since the time of our parents or grandparents – and that is in large part because of childhood immunizations. The downside of the law being in effect 50 years that is that we’ve gotten old enough that a lot of people have forgotten.
Maybe the best thing to offer is the quote that “those who forget History are doomed to repeat it.”
Because that will certainly be so.