States Considering Tougher Rules to Force Vaccinations

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Monday, 06 Jan 2014 07:30 AM

By Elliot Jager

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Parents who on principle do not want to vaccinate their children against measles, whooping cough, mumps, rubella, and other preventable diseases, could find it more difficult to enroll them in school and day care.

According to The Wall Street Journal, most states permit parents to opt out of vaccinating their children on grounds of personal belief. In Colorado, for example, about 4.3 percent of kindergartners were exempted. The state has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.

But a spike in the number of preventable diseases is forcing public health authorities in Colorado and elsewhere to rethink the lenient rules, which some see as encouraging busy parents to pass over vaccinating their children, the Journal reported Sunday.

Groups committed philosophically to personal choice oppose tougher requirements for vaccination exemptions on the grounds of individual and parental rights. Oregon and several other states, however, may still require parents to be exposed to a scientific presentation on the value of vaccinations before allowing their children to be exempted.

Public health professionals worry that some parents are choosing not to vaccinate because of rumors disseminated on the Internet linking vaccines with autism, the Journal also reported.

Lexi Fickenscher, a Denver parent who has a master's in public health, told the newspaper that "People who don't vaccinate their children are potentially affecting many more people." Fickenscher belongs to Voices for Vaccines, a group that promotes vaccinations.

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