No Excuse

Health officials in Ohio are making something clear this school year – if you do not have your child vaccinated, they may be asked to stay home. The public health risk from such a choice is just too great. In Columbus, nearly 480 people have contracted mumps since March. Normally Columbus Public Health sees only one case per year.

Those who have chosen to remain unvaccinated – or whose parents have chosen for them – are helping to rapidly spread the virus, officials say.

“We believe a few unvaccinated individuals put the whole community at risk,” said Jose Rodriguez, spokesman for Columbus Public Health.

Despite requirements that Ohio public schools students receive the measles/mumps/rubella vaccine, parents had been increasingly excused for “religious or personal beliefs,” as skipping vaccinations became more trendy. So, in 2012, fully 10 percent of children in Ohio did not receive the proper MMR vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That means this school year, officials are forced to tell unvaccinated kids they must stay home from school for at least 25 days after a reported mumps case in their community. Imagine the lost learning time, and add to that the danger these kids’ parents have chosen to present to their own children and to the community.

Rodriguez said it is encouraging to note some parents have chosen to vaccinate their children now that they understand the risk. It is a shame there are still so many who refuse to do so.

Vaccination is safe; it saves lives of those who have been vaccinated and those who may be too young, old or immuno-compromised to be vaccinated themselves; and it is the right thing to do for families and the community. Ohio parents who ignore these facts may now need to remember one more – vaccination will keep your child in school.