Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Whooping Cough Vaccinations

I thought Rick Perry was wrong when he signed the law requiring girls to get HPV vaccinations--there's no risk of public transmission of HPV in school. Whooping cough, like tuberculosis and other communicable diseases, is entirely different, and I support the public health laws requiring vaccinations before entering school. With whooping cough making a comeback, a new California law this year required students to have whooping cough vaccinations before the start of the school year. It hasn't gone smoothly:
Cash-strapped school districts are grappling with the potential loss of funding for students sent home for not having a state- mandated whooping cough vaccination or exemption on file...

Some districts are sending unvaccinated students home as the law states, and some are allowing them to attend classes even without the shots...

"The law is clear: Unvaccinated students are not supposed to be in school," said Tina Jung, spokeswoman for the California Department of Education.

But Jung said that doesn't mean that the state will penalize districts that allow students to attend classes without the vaccinations. "Our job is to educate children, not punish schools," Jung said.

The department is trying to decide whether to distribute money in those situations, Jung said.
If someone started a rumor that those not vaccinated are Tea Party supporters, the money would not be forthcoming. Actually, though, I've previously read (but cannot currently find a citation) that the anti-vaccine crowd is mostly made up of well-to-do, reasonably educated, white families who use issues like this (and global warming?) to somehow show their elitist bona fides. Marin County, for example, is Northern California's ground zero for the anti-vaccination crowd, and we know they don't exactly have a lot of "ethnics" in Marin. So much for "settled science" :-)

9 comments:

Jean said...

I suppose part of the problem has also been that the law was passed only this year, and parents weren't given a ton of time. My own daughters are homeschooled, but through a public charter. I already had their annual checkups and a dTap booster for the 11yo scheduled when I was informed that I was supposed to provide proof of vaccination by a date that was about 3 weeks *before* the appointment date. Since we homeschool, it wasn't a real problem. But I'm sure it was a problem for many parents!

And yes, it's my understanding that an awful lot of anti-vaxxers are fairly educated middle-class people (or, in Marin County, wealthy and upper-class). Many of them are also into 'alternative' medicine such as homeopathy. Alternative is seen as morally superior. I'm not sure why.

Jamie said...

Parents weren't given a "ton" of time? How much do they need? At my school, they started making announcements about it in May. This week was the first week that students who weren't vaccinated weren't allowed at school. That's over FOUR MONTHS. How much time do they need???

Jean said...

Maybe my school was just really, really late! They informed me about a week before school started (in my area everyone starts in mid-August).

Darren said...

My son's mother handles most of the "medical" issues, and I was emailing her all summer to remind her. It got done :-)

Ellen K said...

Most districts, at least in Texas, post the vaccination requirements on their websites where parents can find out the information at any time. In addition,all registration packets include this information. What's the problem? Having caught whooping cough last Fall courtesy of one of these unvaccinated students who attended while sick and infected me and three others. For young people it is serious enough, for older people or someone with impaired immunity, these kinds of diseases can be serious or even deadly. It is the grossest kind of selfishness to take unproven conjectures by second rate celebrities as scientific truth when it puts others in peril. As for the HPV vaccine, it was offered the wrong way, but I can tell you that there are many private school, homeschool and public school girls who are at risk for this preventable disease and whose parents would rather not know what their kids are really doing when they are not in their parents' presence.

Happy Elf Mom said...

The "settled science" is that sick people spread germs whether they are vaccinated or not. I myself have made certain my kids have had their DTaPs but that doesn't mean they won't get whooping cough from some other vaccinated kid. I had all my vaccines (plus extra! we travelled internationally!) and still got the measles in college.

Whooping cough is nothing to mess with! So I don't think people who don't give their children the vaccine are doing so to show their "elitist bona fides." I would ascribe way better motives than that, even though I choose differently for my own children...

BTW maybe a nitpicky point, but saying "no" to a given vaccine doesn't make one "anti-vax," necessarily. Often parents have a particular reason why they don't want their child to have a certain vaccine.

Further off-topic... they REFUSED to give my child the H1N1 vaccine even though I asked for it. Just because he is allergic to eggs. So, apparently sometimes you can want a vaccine for your child and it isn't available for whatever reason. Just saying. :)

Anonymous said...

All vaccination programs rely on what is called "herd immunity" for general protection. For some people, the vaccination does not work, other people are unable to take it for medical reasons and there have always been a few "objectors." Herd immunity requires about 80-85% vaccination rate, in order to protect the whole population. The recent large increase in the "objectors" has dropped the rate below safe in a number of areas, so the diseases are recurring. BTW, many people (including physicians) do not remember the days before vaccinations for what used to be called the UCHD (usual childhood diseases - measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, whoooping cough, diptheria. I do; kids and the vulnerable died or had significant complications. I remember women bearing deformed kids because of exposure (often unwitting) to rubella early in pregnancy and I remember men becoming sterile after a bout of mumps orchitis.

Ellen K said...

If you want a clearer view of why such public health measures are needed, google Ennis Tx and tuberculosis. It seems a teacher with active TB exposed countless students and who knows how many other friends, peers, associates and citizens. Right now over 100 kids are going through secondary screening for a disease that was uncommon. What's odd is that as a teacher I had to have a TB test. I wonder if this teacher traveled to another country where TB is common or if, in their haste to fill key positions, the Ennis ISD simply skipped this step. Whatever the cause, the result could be costly medical and other damages. Sadly, an infant in that area has been hospitalized with signs of TB. I'm old enough to remember the last Polio scare in the early 60's. I don't think we want to see this again. People who refuse to take simply measures to protect their kids aren't exercising their "rights" they are imposing their arrogance on innocent people their kids could infect.

Happy Elf Mom said...

I want the OPV instead of IPV for my family. Can I get it? No. The vaccine industry, I guess, doesn't make enough money per dose on the OPV even though (check the science on this!) IT IS MORE EFFECTIVE. Polio is nothing to mess with, either, I agree. But you can't tell me that the vaccination campaigns have nothing to do with selling people something that is not necessarily in the interests of public health, esp. considering OPV is way cheaper. Or that there is no way for parents of vaccine-injured children to sue the high holy crap out of vaccine makers. The system is plain old wrong and balanced in favour of the vaccine industry. I'm not a conspiracy theorist, and I do vaccinate (not chickenpox tho'), and I do see the good vaccines can do, but that's just the way I see it.

The simple fact is that people DO get sick DESPITE vaccinations. Would you rather hang out with vaccinated me when I had the measles, or some non-vaccinated person who didn't ever contract it? I think isolating sick people is more effective than scapegoating unvaccinated people.

Though BTW Ellen, I have asked about a vaccine for tuberculosis when my children were younger and was told there was no such thing available. So I would NOT blame these families. This is the same information I was given and I have actively sought TB vaccine for my kids.