As schools reopen and classes get underway, parents are finding the need to adhere to a new state law: children are not allowed access to education unless they are up-to-date on their immunizations.
Although vaccines have saved hundreds of millions of lives, there is a small but vocal contingent of “anti-vaxxers” as they are sometimes called, who feel the law impinges upon their religious freedom. A case against New York State in federal court was dropped last week; but over 1000 people showed up on the capitol steps to show support for a case still in play in state court.
Since the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act was passed in 1986, over $4 billion has been paid out by the Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund to parents whose children have died due to allergies or other fatal reactions to immunizations, including flu shots. According to a December 1, 2018, finding from the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration, 6305 injury or death claims have been compensated, and over 21,000 claims have not. One can say this is a small number compared to the lives that have been saved; unless it’s your child.
With Albany’s hardline new rules, some parents who have chosen not to have their children vaccinated are going to be forced to play catch-up with very little time between the required immunizations. Imagine a seven-year-old needing two rounds of immunizations, which are now compulsory within 30 days of starting school — that’s shots against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, chicken pox, two types of meningitis, and pneumonia — some of which are encapsulated in possible allergens like eggs, gelatin, and yeast.
Hands-down, vaccinating children is the way to go. But perhaps more time between rounds could have been mandated, keeping the safety of children in mind, along with more education about immunizations for parents and guardians, rather than the patriarchal stance of Albany and those in the medical field.
An injection of compassion, mixed with more time, could have been a better prescription.