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

America is denying three hard truths

There are three major hard truths that our current government has been denying with great vigor: The Mueller Russia-U.S. Presidential election connection investigation, the war in Afghanistan, and the growing national deficit.

Promote the common good by ensuring individual liberty

Citizens following their passions and dreams improve the lot for all.

The three personas of President Trump

There’s Teleprompter Trump, Raw Meat Trump and Twitter Trump.

Carbon pricing won’t help environment, but will hurt taxpayers

How would a Washington carbon tax make a difference in the world “climate?”

It’s never enough

Based on numbers from the legislature, Enumclaw School District will be receiving huge funding increases from the state. Yet here we are with Enumclaw and a bunch of other districts telling the taxpayers, give us more, we need more.

Why are trailers allowed at Expo Center?

When my husband and I moved to our home in 2001 and for every year after the Expo Center grounds have always been pleasant to look at on your way to our home. No longer is this true.

Columnist sheds light on Koch brothers

Our economy, along with our political system, is broken and indeed destroying our democracy.

Vote ‘yes’ on replacement Education Programs levy

As a high school senior that has spent the entirety of my school life in Enumclaw, I know we have to take it upon ourselves to ensure the efficiency and inclusiveness of our school system.

Concern for common good is buried by greed

Tell big lies long and loudly enough and people will believe you.

Enumclaw boys, join the scouts

Troop 422 here in Enumclaw has taught me these things, and it has allowed me to be able to incorporate these things into my own life.

Concessions may be needed to enact carbon pricing

This is the sixth year Gov. Jay Inslee will try to convince lawmakers that the best means of fighting climate change is by making it more expensive to pollute.

Humility allows for tolerance of other’s opinions

Each of us has grown up in different circumstances. Each has been shaped by our life experiences. Each of us sees the world around us differently as a result. Why, then, should it be so difficult to understand that no two people will agree on every issue?