SB 277 – the bill to force all California children to receive a full complement of vaccinations before they can enroll in a public school – has been adopted by the state legislature and is now state law. This law strips parents of their right of conscientious refusal. Only a compelling medical issue will permit parental opting out. Those who object to vaccination for their children will have the option of enrolling their kids in private schools or educating them at home. Personal freedom takes another beating in California.
I have no personal problem with vaccination. My wife and I got the whole nine yards as kids; our children got the whole nine yards; and our grandchildren will receive the same. I knew children who had suffered deformed limbs and even paralysis from polio, and the advent of the polio vaccine was – I believe – one of the great scientific advances of the twentieth century. Children being kept in a closed environment – such as a school – where disease brought in by one can potentially infect hundreds are more than enough reason to take preventative measures for the good of all.
I know some vaccines were held in a toxic preservative that posed a significant health danger – but these conditions were eradicated under California law a decade and more ago. There are cases of people actually contracting the disease they meant to avoid from the vaccine itself – but they are quite rare, and caution dictates we ascertain no live virus is in use in a given vaccine. It is also true that big pharmacopeia outfits are backing the vaccine-for-all tilt because there is a lot of money in it for them. But for my money, the hazards are rare enough and addressed sufficiently to amount to no sufficient reason to run away from the medications. It galls me that pharmaceutical companies again have their way with us, but that too is not enough to throw out baby with bathwater. Vaccination as a public health practice seems to have demonstrated its worth, and I do not see why people would go to the mat to avoid it.
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That said, science is never really settled. I can remember from my own childhood when parents were advised by their family doc to expose all the kids to measles or chickenpox when it came – to get it over with for the family – not knowing some childhood diseases make sufferers more susceptible to more serious conditions later. My own family doc told my mother that infant formula was better for babies than breast milk. And does anyone remember thalidomide? The risks to children from a one-size-fits-all approach to vaccination are small, but they are never non-existent.
The risk to other children – who have been vaccinated – from a child who has not is also small. True, some vaccines wear off after a few years, and the child is not eligible for re-vaccination until ten years have passed in cases like the tetanus mixed with the diphtheria vaccine; but – again – the risk of transmission is primarily to other non-vaccinated kids, and it is certainly fair to say to parents, “You send your child in here unprotected, it is on you.” There is no compelling reason to force parents to do what they believe is not in the best interests of their child.
That too being said, the biggest dog in the fight remains a government out of control that demands the right to dictate parental policy whether they know what they are talking about or not. (Does anyone besides me recall the idiotic effort in public schools thirty-five years ago to use Spanish textbooks for Spanish speakers before we taught them in English – when they could not read Spanish either? I was drafted to teach in that program.) Government always thinks it knows best. Truth is, government makes a poor parent and was never ordained to parent; parents are ordained by God and simple common sense.
Once again, government is grimly determined to make us better despite the fact they always manage to make things worse. Forced vaccination is another case of government meddling in private business and ought to be resisted, even by people like me who like the concept of vaccination but hate the coercion and bullying that comes along at no extra charge.
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There is the opt-out provision for private or homeschooling. If private education is beyond the means of many, homeschooling is not. The benefits go way beyond the arena of vaccination, and – for starters – homeschoolers are by and large more likely to do well on college admission exams from the get-go.
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