Children at risk

Jeff vonKaenel

The California Department of Public Health has found that there is now an increasing number of kindergartners whose parents have filed “personal beliefs” exemptions, allowing them to avoid the usual state-required immunizations. The highest rates of nonvaccinated children are in our wealthier communities and private schools. And the Waldorf schools are among the very highest. Seventy percent of Camellia Waldorf School kindergarteners do not have the usual state-required immunizations. Seventy percent. I have a simple question for these parents: “Are you out of your goddamned minds?”

I assume these parents love their kids. They would not let them run in the street when cars are coming down the road. They probably make them wear seat belts and tell them to eat their vegetables. But these children don’t get whooping-cough shots, and then these parents send them to a school where 70 percent of the kids have not had whooping-cough shots, either. That is crazy. That is an epidemic waiting to happen.

Now, some people say that they don’t need to immunize their children because the “herd” will protect them. But “herd” immunity will only kick in where at least 90 percent of the population are vaccinated. In addition to these parents putting their own children at risk, they are putting others at risk too, especially babies, seniors and people who are already battling illness.

The idea that immunizations cause autism, Crohn’s disease and cancer has as much scientific basis as witchcraft. If these same people said that old women with warts wearing black dresses and black hats caused autism, would we believe it? There is no credible, reliable information that supports the idea that witches, or immunizations, cause cancer or autism. There has been one discredited study, and there have been celebrities, like ex-Playboy bunny, talk-show host and current nincompoop Jenny McCarthy, who have promoted scare stories about vaccination. McCarthy seems to think that because she is a mom, she knows more about medicine than people who have been to medical school.

When I was growing up, there were kids that had polio in my town. It was not a fun disease. I remember when the polio vaccine came out. Believe me, my parents would not have opted out. In fact, they would have driven across the country to make sure that we received the vaccine early.

It really is simple. We used to have kids getting sick and dying from whooping cough, mumps, chickenpox, measles and other diseases. I’m old enough that I can remember this. And because of advances in immunization, we have almost eliminated these horrible diseases.

But now these diseases could come back. They could come back because misguided, uninformed individuals do not believe in immunizations. They could come back because people are not doing their civic duty and getting immunized. We cannot and should not allow this.

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About the Author

Jeff vonKaenel
Jeff vonKaenel is the president, CEO and majority owner of the News & Review newspapers in Sacramento, Chico and Reno.