On September 13, my vaccination deadline will soon be passed. And as parents continue to balk at required vaccines, it’s time for Congress to join the public health community in requiring all mandatory vaccinations for school entry.
My parents insisted I be vaccinated. But not all people in my situation are so lucky. There are 20 million unvaccinated Americans.
This has unfortunate consequences.
The U.S. is one of only three countries without national standards governing what children should receive to attend school. And the status quo is lax and counterintuitive to public health.
Vaccination rates vary widely by state, County and Race.
For example, in New York State, 51 percent of Black and Latino children are fully vaccinated. But the only one-third of total children who are fully vaccinated in the State is 2nd grade.
Under Illinois law, no children are allowed into public school without a valid vaccination card. Only 3 percent of children in second grade are unvaccinated, which is a higher rate than in other age groups.
These staggering statistics offer a choice to young children – whether to receive their required vaccines. The reality is that from unlicensed therapists and opt-out daycare programs to Internet-paved communities of yes-men and dangers lurking in the woods, children are being placed at risk of vaccine-preventable diseases.
On the third anniversary of the partial HPV vaccine mandate, some 40 million people in the U.S. are awaiting to receive the HPV vaccine for cervical cancer. In the last 30 years, the number of American women under age 30 diagnosed with cervical cancer has gone from fewer than 4,000 to almost 11,000. The rate of the cancer has gone from 1 in 75 women under 30 to 1 in 19.
Hundreds of thousands of women have died.
Yet the Gardasil vaccine was criticized in the American medical community as having potential side effects, leaving many worried that the vaccine wouldn’t be effective and warranted.
As it turns out, the analysis that initially put the brakes on the HPV vaccine only included partial data. And a meta-analysis of more than 500 studies, combined nearly five million live vaccines and proved that the vaccine was worth its price and risk.
Besides the promise of reducing the number of Americans who develop and die from the disease, the Gardasil HPV vaccine is the single most important improvement to public health in recent decades.
Years before there was any talk of suing parents who oppose the vaccines, young children like me were at a higher risk for catching diseases that can kill us. Those were the diseases the U.S. pharmaceutical industry created vaccines to protect against. Today, parents are sometimes denied the opportunity to build their children’s immunity without exposing them to a whole group of diseases that together cause tremendous harm. This cannot continue.
It’s time for Congress to make it mandatory for all children to be vaccinated before they get an education. The status quo is too risky for children.