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Op-ed: ‘If you choose not to vaccinate your child, then I should know who you are’

Mike Drago, the Dallas Morning News’s commentary editor, published an opinion piece this Friday where he proposed that people should know which parents in their midst choose not to vaccinate their children.

Mike Drago, the Dallas Morning News’s commentary editor, published an opinion piece this Friday where he proposed that people should know which parents in their midst choose not to vaccinate their children.

Drago’s response was prompted by a measles outbreak at Schell Elementary in Plano, TX. The outbreak was caused by an unvaccinated child who recently traveled internationally. Schell took six days to announce the outbreak to parents as the school was waiting for the results to come back,

Although Drago was disturbed by the school’s failure to announce a potential outbreak, he was most frustrated by the state continuing to protect the nearly 2 percent of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children. Drago asked state legislators to do something about it:

And it’s not so much the frustrating-but-old-hat fact that a percentage of parents (1.6 percent, or 871 students in Plano; 2 percent in my district) are given “conscientious exemptions” from vaccinations. (Important note: We don’t know all the circumstances in the Schell case or why that family made its choice, and I won’t speculate.)

No, the thing that really bothers me is that the state protects the freedom of anti-vaxxers to refuse health-saving shots — for any reason or for no reason at all — while leaving the rest of our kids vulnerable and parents in the dark.

[…]

If parents should have the liberty to decline routine vaccinations for their kids, why don’t I deserve to know my kid might be sitting next to an unvaccinated child at lunch or PE class?

I understand that any number of federal privacy restrictions (FERPA, HIPAA) might tie school officials’ hands in this matter… But why is my kid’s health your third consideration?

Dallas County Representative Jason Villalba doesn’t think that Drago’s proposal is that outlandish. Villalba previously supported legislation that would make it harder for parents to get a vaccination exemption for their children, but the bill failed.  Villalba said he is planning on proposing a bill similar to Drago’s proposal if his initial bill passes when it is reintroduced.

“It is time for common sense to prevail in this debate.  It is simply unconscionable that in a society as scientifically advanced as ours, that there are children who remain unprotected from diseases that have been eradicated for decades. At a minimum, those parents who send their children to public schools are entitled to know to what degree their children are exposed to unvaccinated populations within the school.”

Drago concluded his piece by acknowledging that there are a small number of medical reasons to not vaccinate a child. However, he also called for parents to take responsibility and vaccinate their children. If not, other parents should know which children may potentially carry diseases.

Featured image via portside.org

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