A rash of measles outbreaks all over the U.S. has pitted the scientific community and many parents against so-called “anti-vaxxers,” a subculture of people who believe the risks of vaccines outweigh the benefits. There’s even a group in Rockland County, New York who’s suing a health department – but you might be surprised at the grounds for the lawsuit.
In December of last year, Rockland County declared an emergency over the measles outbreak that infected 146 people – most of whom are unvaccinated kids under the age of 18. The Rockland County Health Department made a big decision: It banned unvaccinated children from attending schools that had vaccination rates lower than 95 percent.
In mid-March, the parents of 40 kids banned from attending Green Meadow Waldorf School sued the health department and asked a federal judge to send the kids back to school. At the time of the ban, the school had a vaccination rate of just 33 percent.
In the lawsuit, the parents claimed that the ban has “caused and continues to cause irreparable harm” to the kids, despite the fact that if the parents vaccinate the children, they’ll be welcomed back to school.
The judge said no.
In the wake of the judge’s decision, one mother said, “Preventing my child from being with his class, his teacher, his classroom, has had a significant social and psychological impact. He is confused, given his young age, about why he isn’t allowed on his campus.” The mother declined to give her name, but said that her son is four years old.
Several debates are springing up between these anti-vaccine parents and the scientific community-at-large, as well as parents whose children cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons (such as previous adverse reactions to the ingredients in vaccines) and other concerned moms and dads.
One young man, 18-year-old Ethan Lindenberger, testified before Congress after being vaccinated against his mother’s wishes. Facebook announced plans to combat anti-vaccine propaganda so its users would have data-backed information when making choices about vaccines, and Google and Amazon have also declared their intentions to promote public health.
Some states have introduced legislation that allows kids to ask for vaccines without parental approval, including South Carolina and Oregon.
What Do You Think?
Do you think the judge in this case was right? What do you think of legislation that allows kids to be vaccinated against their parents’ wishes? I’d love to hear your take, so please join the conversation on my Facebook page or on my Twitter feed.