Our Children are at risk.
In 2012, only 67.5 percent of Texas children obtained all seven vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (1). The remaining one-third of Texas children are exposed to dangerous diseases that are vaccine-preventable. According to The Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS), there were 2,652cases of whooping cough alone in 2013, just one of many vaccine-preventable diseases, expected to rise (2). Texas fails in comparison with other states in its children receiving the full set of vaccinations (1). Why? While nearly all states provide exemptions of immunizations for medical and religious reasons, only 20 states, including Texas, provide exemptions for philosophical reasons, and not surprisingly, these are the states that show highest outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases (3). With a large population of children exposed to preventable diseases we must adapt our philosophy to see the importance of vaccination and we must vaccinate.
TDSHS states that philosophical exemptions have increased yearly since allowed in 2003, increasing unvaccinated individuals, therefore increasing the risk of an outbreak when a vaccine-preventable disease enters the population (4). With over thirty percent of Texan children not vaccinated—these children are dangerously exposed, especially with the rise in recent outbreaks (4).
The outbreak of diseases that could have been prevented with vaccination has children across the State exposed. Certainly no parent wants their child suffering, then why is it that over thirty percent of Texan parents decline to vaccinate? Some parents have a misconception that vaccines cause diseases such as autism but that claim is false, as justified in much scientific research and supported by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the CDC (5, 6).
Why should we vaccinate? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 1) we need vaccinations to protect our children from preventable diseases, which still exist even if we haven’t seen a case recently credited to the effectiveness of the vaccination; 2) although the disease polio is removed from the U.S, it would take only ONE case from another part of the world to bring it back to the U.S if we are not vaccinated; 3) about 95 percent of the population must be vaccinated if we want for vaccines to protect everyone; and 4) we get greater complications and pain from the disease than from the vaccination, so it is much safer to have the vaccination (7).
“An ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure.” Accordingly, organizations are working to increase vaccination in Texas and fix this dangerous public health problem. TDSHS’ Division of Disease Control and Prevention Services began a statewide effort to increase vaccine coverage levels to protect children (4). This effort will hopefully increase the number of vaccinated children and save them from a vaccine-preventable disease. However, the health of our children rests in our hands and our decisions. Effort from external sources will not protect our children, unless we increase our knowledge, adapt our personal philosophy and choose to vaccinate.
Because we care, we want to vaccinate our children and join the effort of a healthy, immunized Texas, but how? There are simple steps that we can take to be a part of the change:
We must go to the right online sources—we should go to sources with the most knowledge and expertise. Some great sources are: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/concerns/autism/; The Texas Department of State Health Services, https://www.dshs.state.tx.us/immunize/ and the Texas Medical Association’s Be Wise—Immunize initiative, http://www.texmed.org/bewise/ .
We must speak to our Physician—by speaking with a professional we can know that: vaccines are important, safe, effective, getting several shots at one time is OK, on-time vaccination is important and that the physicians “cannot use a vaccine unless the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved it as safe and effective (8).” Therefore, any vaccination given to your child by the physician is safe and in the best interest of the child.
We must speak up—a fast way to raise awareness is through word-of-mouth. While many parents are aware of the truth behind vaccinations and their benefits stay silent, there still circulates false information about vaccination leading to thirty percent of our children being exposed to dangerous possibly fatal diseases (8). Start talking! Start Vaccinating! Start saving lives!
We must make the right choice—vaccination is beneficial. Drastic increase in children being exposed to vaccine preventable diseased occurred after 2003, due to exemptions based on medical, religious and philosophical reasons (8,9). Vaccination is a powerful public health tool against diseases (8). Choose wisely, and vaccinate.
Over 2.4 million of Texas children are not vaccinated—exposing them to any one of many vaccine-preventable diseases (10). What are we waiting for? Let’s Increase our knowledge. Adapt our philosophy. Protect our Children. Vaccinate.
1. Most Vaccinated Children: States. (n.d.). Retrieved February 18, 2014, from Bloomberg website: http://www.bloomberg.com/visual-data/best-and-worst/most-vaccinated-children-states
2. Infectious Disease Control: Pertussis. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2-14, from Texas Department of State Health Services website: https://www.dshs.state.tx.us/idcu/disease/pertussis/
3. Swendiman, K. S. (2011, February 24). Mandatory Vaccinations: Precendent and Current Laws. Retrieved from Congressional Research Service website: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RS21414.pdf
4. Division for Disease Control and Prevention Services, Infectious Disease Prevention Section, Immunization Branch. (2012, September). Reducing Vaccine-Preventable Disease in Texas: Strategies to Increase Vaccine Coverage Levels. Retrieved from Texas Department of State Health Services website: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCcQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dshs.state.tx.us%2Fimmunize%2Fdocs%2F2012-Reducing-Vaccine-Preventable-Disease-in-Texas-Final.pdf&ei=mwQUU7SQAqHg2gXPsIHQCA&usg=AFQjCNEq0zVUA2PPT_nfyrTXHT2FPjqoyA&sig2=wPgJZxeTJxt523FvuZH0qw&bvm=bv.61965928,d.b2I
5. Why Parents Don’t Vaccinate Their Children–And What We Can Do. (2014, August 2). Retrieved from Center for Inquiry website: http://www.centerforinquiry.net/blogs/entry/why_parents_dont_vaccinate_their_children–and_what_we_can_do/
6. Concerns about Autism. (n.d.). Retrieved February 20, 2014, from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/concerns/autism/
7. American Academy of Pediatrics. (n.d.). Facts for Parents About Vaccine Safety. Retrieved February 20, 2014, from American Academy of Pediatrics website: http://www2.aap.org/advocacy/releases/autismparentfacts.htm
8. Be Wise- Immunize, Physician Manual for Children. (2013). Retrieved from Texas Medical Association, Be Wise- Immunize website: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CC0QFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.texmed.org%2FWorkArea%2FD ownloadAsset.aspx%3Fid%3D26503&ei=ngcUU6uzJpS42gWnoICwDA&usg=AFQjCNE5XQZaUariiFSHWBMaRBNQ_hVvNA&sig2=GvxFUs2TyYwJA16iqfcv8A&bvm=bv.61965928,d.b2I
9. States with Religious and Philosophical Exemptions from School Immunization Requirements. (2012, December). Retrieved from National Conference of State Legislatures website:http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/school-immunization-exemption-state-laws.aspx
10. Research and Evaluation Department, Center for Strategic Decision Support, Texas Health and Human Services Commission. (2005, February). Texas Population Projections for Children 18 and Younger: Years 2000- 2040. Retrieved from Texas Health and Human Services Commission website: http://www.hhsc.state.tx.us/research/dssi/popstats/projectionstx_agegrpschild.html
Copyright © Sherley J. Edinbarough (Surely, Sherley and/or SurelySherley), 2014.