Posts Tagged ‘ vaccinations ’

California May Ban Certain Vaccine Exemptions

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

doctor giving vaccineNow that there are more than 120 confirmed cases of measles—92 within the state of California—two California senators are working toward banning parents’ right to exempt their children from mandatory school vaccinations because of personal beliefs, reports Reuters.

These lawmakers are answering the pleas of many families—including that of Rhett Krawitt’s, a 6-year-old boy unable to receive vaccines for medical reasons—who want to keep their children healthy.

“The high number of unvaccinated students is jeopardizing public health not only in schools but in the broader community,” said state Senator Ben Allen, who is co-sponsoring the legislation with fellow Senator Richard Pan. “We need to take steps to keep our schools safe and our students healthy.”

If this legislation is passed, California will become the 33rd state to revoke parents’ right to not vaccinate their child.

For more related information on vaccines:

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

Vaccines for Babies and Older Kids
Vaccines for Babies and Older Kids
Vaccines for Babies and Older Kids

Image: Doctor vaccinating baby via Shutterstock

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Should Schools Ban Unvaccinated Kids?

Friday, January 30th, 2015

forbid children signOne family’s story might give you a different and more personal perspective on a continually debated issue: vaccines.

For the past four and a half years, Carl Krawitt and his wife, Jodi, have had to do something that no parent ever wants to do—watch their 6-year-old son, Rhett, battle leukemia. And after finishing numerous rounds of chemotherapy treatment, doctors say Rhett is in remission.

But now another battle has begun— the battle to keep Rhett as healthy as possible, despite being unvaccinated. Rhett cannot be vaccinated until his immune system is strong enough, which could take months. And if Rhett contracts a disease, he is at a higher risk for complications and even death.

While Rhett can rely on the power of herd immunity, it’s not guaranteed when he lives in Marin County, California, which has the highest rate of children in the Bay Area who have been opted out of immunizations. In fact, Rhett’s elementary school has a 7 percent personal belief exemption rate, which is nearly three times more than the statewide average.

In light of the current measles’ outbreak on the west coast, Carl is speaking up for his son — by requesting that his elementary school bans all unvaccinated students, except for those who, like his son, cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. “It’s very emotional for me,” he told NPR. “If you choose not to immunize your own child and your own child dies because they get measles, OK, that’s your responsibility, that’s your choice. But if your child gets sick and gets my child sick and my child dies, then…your action has harmed my child.”

And Rhett is not alone in having a weakened immune system. According to oncologist Dr. Robert Goldsby, “there are hundreds of other kids in the Bay Area who are going through cancer therapy, and it’s not fair to them.”

However, at this time, Marin County doesn’t have any confirmed or suspected cases of measles, so no immediate action can be made without approval from county health officers. However, “if the outbreak progresses and we start seeing more and more cases, then this is a step we might want to consider,” said Matt Willis, Marin County’s health officer.

We want to hear from you—let us know what you think! Is Carl Krawitt’s request to ban students fair? Or do you think it goes too far?

Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

More About Measles

Vaccines for Babies and Older Kids
Vaccines for Babies and Older Kids
Vaccines for Babies and Older Kids

Image: Forbid children sign via Shutterstock

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Why Are Millions Of Children Missing Out On Important Medical Care?

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Millions of children don't receive the preventive screenings necessary for healthy growth Millions, that’s right, millions of children don’t receive the preventive tests and screenings deemed necessary for healthy growth and development, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports this week.

The report highlighted 11 services that are most often skipped, including lead screenings, use of dental care, vision and hypertension screenings and the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination, among others.

The CDC has been tracking this type of public healthcare for many years, the organization notes in a press release, and chalks much of this absence of preventive care up to racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic inconsistencies, CBS reports.

With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, there is hope that these numbers will decrease, however, lack of health insurance coverage isn’t always to blame: CBS reports that “some of the discouraging numbers are a result of lack of protocols at medical institutions and individual failures on part of health care providers.”

“We must protect the health of all children,” Dr. Stuart K. Shapira, chief medical officer and associate director for science in CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities said in the press release. “Increased use of clinical preventive services could improve the health of infants, children and teens and promote healthy lifestyles that will enable them to achieve their full potential.”

Have your kids had their back-to-school hearing and vision tests? Learn how to make the most of theirs here.

When to Worry: Eye and Vision Problems
When to Worry: Eye and Vision Problems
When to Worry: Eye and Vision Problems

Photo of girl being vaccinated courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Judge: Unvaccinated Kids Can Be Barred from School During Illnesses

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

A New York City policy allowing schools to prohibit unvaccinated kids from attending school when there are reported cases of vaccine-preventable diseases has been upheld by a federal judge, despite the claims by three families that the policy violates their constitutional right to make medical decisions based on religious beliefs.  The New York Times reports:

Citing a 109-year-old Supreme Court ruling that gives states broad power in public health matters, Judge William F. Kuntz II of Federal District Court in Brooklyn ruled against three families who claimed that their right to free exercise of religion was violated when their children were kept from school, sometimes for a month at a time, because of the city’s immunization policies.

The Supreme Court, Judge Kuntz wrote in his ruling, has “strongly suggested that religious objectors are not constitutionally exempt from vaccinations.”

The lawyer for the plaintiffs, Patricia Finn, said she plans to appeal the decision, announced this month. On Thursday, Ms. Finn asked the district court to rehear the case.

Amid concerns by public health officials that some diseases are experiencing a resurgence in areas with low vaccination rates, the decision reinforces efforts by the city to balance a strict vaccine mandate with limited exemptions for objectors. Pockets of vaccination refusal persist in the city, despite high levels of vaccination overall.

State law requires children to receive vaccinations before attending school, unless a parent can show religious reservations or a doctor can attest that vaccines will harm the child. Under state law, parents claiming religious exemptions do not have to prove their faith opposes vaccines, but they must provide a written explanation of a “genuine and sincere” religious objection, which school officials can accept or reject.

Some states also let parents claim a philosophical exemption, though New York does not. Some parents refuse to have their children vaccinated because of a belief that vaccines can cause autism, though no link has ever been proved.

Two of the families in the lawsuit who had received religious exemptions challenged the city’s policy on barring their children, saying it amounted to a violation of their First Amendment right to religious freedom and their 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law, among other claims. Their children had been kept from school when other students had chickenpox, their suit said.

The third plaintiff, Dina Check, sued on somewhat different grounds, saying that the city had improperly denied her 7-year-old daughter a religious exemption. She said the city rejected her religious exemption after it had denied her a medical exemption, sowing doubts among administrators about the authenticity of her religious opposition. But Ms. Check said the request for a medical exemption had been mistakenly submitted by a school nurse without her consent.

Flu Vaccine Tips with Tia Mowry
Flu Vaccine Tips with Tia Mowry
Flu Vaccine Tips with Tia Mowry

Image: School lockers, via Shutterstock

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Measles Cases Reach 20-Year-High, Continue to Rise

Friday, May 30th, 2014

Sick-Girl-Child-MeaslesThe number of reported cases of measles continues to rise in the United States, according to federal health officials. Earlier in May, the number of illnesses hit an 18-year-high, and now the number has increased to 288 confirmed cases, a record high for the past 20 years. The number is also expected to continue to rise during the summer. More from the New York Times:

Largely because of resistance to vaccination, cases of measles have reached a 20-year high in the United States, federal health officials said on Thursday.

As of May 23, there were 288 confirmed cases in the United States — more than in all of 2013, and more than in the equivalent period of any year since 1994. The number is expected to increase during the summer travel season.

“This is not the kind of record we want to break,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of immunization and respiratory diseases for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The measles virus, which is highly contagious, usually causes only a fever and a rash. But it can lead to pneumonia, brain damage, deafness and even death. An unvaccinated American child who develops measles has about a one in 500 chance of dying, even with hospital care, according to the C.D.C.

There were fewer than 200 cases last year; the record low was 37 cases in 2004.

Eighty-five percent of this year’s cases were in people not vaccinated because of religious, philosophical or personal objections, Dr. Schuchat said.

In an unusual twist, over half were ages 20 or older. They may have included adults whose parents refused to vaccinate them years ago, she said.

Forty-three of the 288 who contracted the virus were hospitalized, most with pneumonia. None died.

Almost half the cases were part of a continuing outbreak in Amish communities in Ohio that started with missionaries who had traveled to the Philippines, which is experiencing an outbreak that has caused 41 deaths.

There were 60 cases in California, mostly in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Orange County, where large numbers of wealthy parents refuse to vaccinate their children.

The third-biggest outbreak was in New York City, which registered 26 cases in February and March. It was concentrated in Upper Manhattan, and cases are believed to have spread in hospital waiting rooms because doctors and nurses did not promptly recognize the symptoms. At least two children that contracted the virus were from families that refused vaccines; seven were too young to be vaccinated.

Of the cases whose origins could be traced, 22 were imported from the Philippines, six from India, two from China, and the rest from 15 other countries.

Measles can be caught virtually anywhere. France, the world’s most popular tourist destination, had an outbreak of 20,000 cases from 2008 to 2011.

Before measles vaccination became routine in the early 1960s, about 500,000 Americans got the virus each year, most of them young children. Of those, about 48,000 were hospitalized, about 500 died, and many more suffered brain damage and deafness.

Vaccines for Babies and Older Kids
Vaccines for Babies and Older Kids
Vaccines for Babies and Older Kids

Image: A sick cute girl is measuring the temperature via ShutterStock

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