The bottom line for childhood immunizations and vaccine exemptions | Public Health Insider

The following is written by Jeff Duchin, MD, for Public Health Insider:

  • Monday, March 21, 2016 1:30pm
  • Opinion

The following is written by Jeff Duchin, MD, for Public Health Insider:

Media coverage of our recent publication in the journal Pediatrics gave some people the mistaken impression that my colleagues and I want to provide children with a choice to “opt out” of required vaccinations, except for measles vaccine.

The fact is that families in Washington currently have the ability to opt out of any required vaccine. About 3% of Washington state children opt out of one or more vaccines using a non-medical exemption. In addition, another 13% of children are non-compliant with vaccination requirements – that is they haven’t requested an exemption and don’t have the required vaccinations at school entry.

If you read no further, here’s the bottom line: We strongly recommend that all children receive all recommended vaccines and we do not recommend the use of non-medical exemptions or increasing the ability to opt out of any vaccine requirements.

Our publication is intended to promote dialogue about the best ways to increase the number of children receiving all recommended vaccines while safeguarding our communities against outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases.

We favor several strategies to increase immunization rates, including:

  • Improving enforcement of our current immunization requirements
  • Making non-medical exemptions more difficult to get
  • And, if needed, eliminating the current option for non-medical exemptions for measles vaccine.

We say this about measles because it’s unique — a serious disease that can that spread readily through a community without direct contact with an ill person when levels of measles vaccine coverage are not high enough. There’s a safe and extremely effective vaccine that produces long lasting protection, and very high levels of measles vaccine coverage can prevent community spread.

Other diseases for which vaccines are routinely recommended do not currently pose the same risk for community outbreaks as measles does, with the exception of pertussis. However, although pertussis vaccine produces good short-term protection, it does not provide sufficient long-term protection to prevent community outbreaks.

If enforcement of current vaccination requirements doesn’t sustain the necessary high levels of measles vaccine coverage, eliminating non-medical exemptions for measles vaccine may be required to protect against community outbreaks.

Although we categorically do not endorse the use of non-medical exemptions for any vaccine, we think only measles poses a sufficient threat of preventable outbreaks to consider eliminating the currently available personal choice to opt-out of vaccination in order to protect the community.

More in Opinion

State Dems may abandon caucus chaos in time for 2020

Washington also is considering becoming more significant by moving its primary to early March.

The four cornerstones of arguing irrationally

Don’t get caught up in the techniques people use to ignore rational arguments.

A taste of Krain history, from its dive-bar days

I first went in the place one winter’s evening when I was 8 or 9 years old.

Supreme Court resets the playing field

The ruling on the Masterpiece Bakery v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case wasn’t a win for the right or a loss for the left; it’s a chance to do things right the second time around.

Supreme Court ruling shows sanity, moderation

The 14th Amendment equal protection clause does not negate the First Amendment religious freedom clause.

Initiative signatures are the new greenbacks

As of Wednesday, June 6, petitions for four statewide initiatives were getting circulated.

Trump supporters see the president doing ‘God’s will on Earth’

Why did Truman recognize Israel so quickly and why do we care about modern Israel, enough to bring the ire of the Muslim world down upon us?

Eyman risking retirement funds on car tab initiative

Will the $500,000 investment be enough to get the initiative on a ballot?

U.S. isn’t the only nation flirting with trade wars

There’s another brewing between Alberta and British Columbia.

I wish I could stay in Enumclaw | Guest Columnist

There is a kindness and decency and desire to be a community in Enumclaw.

We live in frightening times

Our country is being torn apart from limb to limb, coast to coast.

Voting habits tied to feelings of security

The dangers of authoritarianism are a far greater threat to the nation than seeing rising racial equality and religious diversity brought about by immigration.