A potential public health disaster last week in neighboring western states underscores why Colorado must end its perilous philosophical exemption to mandatory immunization.
Currently, there’s not even a bill in our own legislature that would end the state’s inapt vaccination exemptions.
Last week, a measles outbreak in Oregon and Washington sickened dozens of people with a sometimes deadly disease that was once eradicated in the United States in 2000. Public health officials there say that of 44 confirmed cases — and they’re certain there will be many more — 37 were residents who had not been vaccinated against the highly contagious virus.
It’s an astounding number and outbreak that speaks to the damage ignorant and irresponsible parents are causing in communities like Portland across the nation —including Colorado.
Shockingly, Colorado ranks near the bottom of states for rates of child immunization compliance. It’s unnerving because the state has one of the highest proportions of highly educated parents in the nation.
But a large number of parents, and previous state lawmakers, have fallen victim to a pervasive ruse undermining immunization rates and public health.
That ruse is a regularly discredited study run by a discredited doctor who fallaciously tied autism to childhood vaccinations. The U.S. media irresponsibly published the claims despite experts exposing the author’s poor science, helping to legitimize them.
There is not one reputable pediatrician, pediatric organization, hospital, clinic or researcher that does not vehemently work to debunk the autism lie and beg parents to vaccinate their children.
Now, huge swaths of the public are at dire risk across the nation. Measles is not an inconvenience. It can easily be deadly to children and adults with compromised immune systems who depend on “the herd” to remain disease free through mass immunization. It can be deadly to healthy children, too.
But state’s like Colorado have succumbed to ignorant parent pressure and continue to allow anyone to keep from vaccinating their child and attend public schools without a valid medical reason.
In Colorado, it’s actually easier to say that you don’t want to vaccinate your child than to prove that you have.
Lawmakers should immediately adopt a recent California measure, which requires vaccination of all children without a valid medical issue, or prohibits that child from attending public schools. Likewise, programs such as league sports, Boy Scouts and others should also require immunizations or valid medical exemption to help protect all children.
In the two years California has adopted the measure, compliance has nearly returned to safe standards.
Real scientists and medical professionals are unequivocal: The purported autism danger of childhood vaccines are lies. Dangerous lies.
In a state where real science rightfully rules decision making on so many issues, it’s past time to let science guide the state back toward mandatory vaccination.