Commentary

Editorial: It’s time to push back against anti-vaxxers

In case you missed it, the Charlotte Observer published an on-the-money editorial earlier this week in which it demanded action from state leaders to push back against the growing and dangerous “anti-vaxxer” movement. As you’re probably aware, there’s a growing movement in the U.S. in which ill-informed, if well meaning, parents are choosing not to have their children vaccinated against numerous dangerous diseases.

As the Observer editorial notes, this is a trend that needs to be reversed ASAP.

It’s time to get tougher about vaccinations in North Carolina and elsewhere, not only by eliminating the religious exemption loophole, but by taking additional steps to make sure parents don’t game exemption laws and rules.

Currently, North Carolina statute requires vaccinations for measles, mumps and other diseases for children attending day care, K-12 schools, and colleges and universities. Like many states, North Carolina allows exemptions for medical reasons and religious beliefs. The medical exemption needs to be signed by a doctor, but the religious exemption requires only the name and date of birth for whom the request is being made. No explanation of the religious objection — or even evidence of religious affiliation or faith — is required.

That loophole should be eliminated. Most major mainstream religions — including all Christian denominations — have no prohibition on vaccinations, and many advocate for immunization, according to a study in the medical journal, Vaccine. The Amish, long rumored to forbid vaccinations, have no such prohibition, and Jehovah’s Witnesses have softened their stance on immunizations and now allow them.

Objections to vaccinations also are not based on science, which has regularly and thoroughly debunked the notion that vaccines are unsafe.Despite that, anti-vaxxers stubbornly shake their head, fueled by an internet-based patchwork of falsehoods and suppositions. Their recklessness not only endangers children who have legitimate medical exemptions, but adults who have vulnerable immune systems because of chemotherapy and other treatments….

N.C. lawmakers should not only follow the lead of their counterparts in Oregon and Washington state — who are crafting legislation that would eliminate non-medical exemptions — but lawmakers in California, who are contemplating allowing health departments to crack down on doctors who sign off on questionable medical waivers.

Anti-vaxxers argue that the state has no right to tell them how to care for their children. But government has long protected kids from poor parenting, and it has long shielded the greater community from the recklessness of individuals. It’s time to treat vaccination deniers for what they are — a threat to others.

Exactly.

Click here to read the entire editorial.

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