Nineteen Gilbert students have had to stay home from school for almost the entire month of February because they weren’t vaccinated when a mumps outbreak occurred. If those students still aren’t vaccinated on February 28th and an additional case is reported they will have to stay home even longer, according to this story on azcentral.com.
“Students who receive vaccination at least 14 days before returning to school can come back on Feb. 28 even if there is another mumps case, because it takes 14 days for the vaccination to take effect, said Bob England, Maricopa County public-health director.
However, if they have not been vaccinated, and another mumps case breaks out, they will need to stay out of school for another 26 days, he said.”
It is likely that some of these 19 students could have been vaccinated but for whatever the reason their parents chose to file an exemption instead. The problem with this is that vaccinations don’t just protect the person vaccinated. They also protect people who can’t get vaccinated for medical reasons like infants too young to be vaccinated, the elderly with weak immune systems, and people whose immune systems are compromised due to genetics, illness or certain medications. When people who can’t get vaccinated are surrounded by those who have been vaccinated they are significantly less likely to get ill, this is called herd immunity. The College of Physicians of Philadelphia has a really great animation that shows exactly how herd immunity protects small portions of the population. But, for herd immunity to work it means that larger portions of the population have to be committed to getting vaccinated.
Some groups of misinformed people are spreading the rumors that vaccines aren’t safe, they are completely wrong! The Arizona Partnership for Immunization has a lot of great information about the safety of all different kinds of vaccines, where you can get immunized, and host of other helpful tips on their website: www.whyimmunize.org. One of the goals of the organization is to deliver age appropriate immunizations by the year 2010 to at least 90 percent of Arizona’s two-year-old children before their second birthday.
A move that may help with this cause is legislative bill HB 2846. Current Arizona law will allow a parent to exempt their children for personal beliefs without the signature of a health professional. However, HB 2846 will require a statement signed by a health professional to prove that the health professional provided the child’s parent or guardian with information about the benefits and risks of immunization to the child. Hopefully the additional information will convince more parents and guardians to get their kids vaccinated
Don’t forget adults need to keep up with their vaccinations too. Be a Herd Hero! Get Vaccinated!