Wednesday, September 7, 2016

American Academy of Pediatrics: End Nonmedical Vaccine Exemptions for Child Care and School Attendance

By Lisa Swanson, MD
Mesquite Pediatrician
Chair of the Texas Medical Association Council on Child and Adolescent Health

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently issued a statement calling for governments to enact policies that allow only medical exemptions to vaccinations required for child care and school. The desired result of high vaccination rates will help ensure no child has to suffer through a disease that could have been prevented by a vaccine.

The AAP statement is in response to a growing number of pockets of unvaccinated children around the country. Many of the parents who choose not to vaccinate their children have received misleading or untrue information. And many vaccine refusers think the diseases against which we vaccinate no longer exist, even though they are circulating worldwide.

Low vaccination rates put children who cannot be vaccinated — such as those with medical problems or those who are too young to be vaccinated — at high risk for becoming ill or dying from a vaccine-preventable illness.

For babies born in United States in 2009, routine childhood immunization will prevent about 42,000 early deaths and 20 million cases of disease, according to a report published in the medical journal Pediatrics, saving $13.5 billion in direct costs and $68.8 billion in societal costs.

Vaccinating children makes sense from both a humanitarian and a financial viewpoint. It is time for Texas to eliminate nonmedical exemptions to vaccines.

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