Vaccinating kids is an obligation we must all honor | Publisher's Column

At the elementary school I attended in Anacortes, my classmates and I would line up in the halls for immunizations. There were the shots for measles/mumps/rubella, diphtheria, tetanus and sugar cubes for polio. We all held a copy of our vaccination records and, when our turn arrived, handed them to the school nurse for updating.

It was the culture … you got your shots and you didn’t argue about it.

Over the years, my mother talked about two children she knew growing up who were stricken with polio and died. That disease was particularly cruel. Polio can inflame the spinal cord’s grey matter, affect breathing and many who are stricken with the disease suffer permanent spinal paralysis.

Vaccinations helped to virtually eradicate polio.

I grew up believing that vaccinating our children is a societal obligation.

There are some who say they are convinced that vaccinations lead to autism, a claim not supported by scientific studies, but perpetuated by such experts as talk show host and former Playboy model Jenny McCarthy.

In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the CDC, the World Health Organization, and the Institute of Medicine all agree that there’s probably no relationship between autism and vaccines.

As a parent, I understand being concerned about your child and wanting to protect them. As a parent, however, I believed any possible risks that might come from vaccinating my son were far outweighed by the protections it would afford him and others.

It was our responsibility.

That’s why it’s concerning to hear that diseases like whooping cough (pertussis) and measles — easily prevented with vaccinations — are popping up around us.

Whooping cough is a respiratory infection characterized by severe coughing spells, which can sometimes end in a “whooping” sound when the person breathes in. Before a vaccine was available, the disease killed up to 10,000 people in the United States each year.

Measles can be serious and potentially fatal for small children.

By 2000, the measles vaccine practically eliminated the disease in the United States, but there is a resurgence of the disease, as more people have chosen not to vaccinate their children.

As members of society, parents who don’t vaccinate their children need to rethink their position and meet the societal obligation to prevent the spread of potentially fatal diseases.


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