There's a bill in the California legislature, proposed by Senator Richard Pan, a pediatrician, which would remove the "personal belief" exemption for vaccination requirements for kids in public schools. I hope it passes there, and similar legislation becomes law in every state. Russell Saunders sums it up perfectly:
It would leave in place exemptions for legitimate medical reasons not to vaccinate (typically related to problems with the immune system), but would remove those premised on nothing more than a parent’s benighted beliefs. This is wholly appropriate, and will serve to ensure that public schools are not breeding grounds for future outbreaks.Read Saunders' full piece here.
Of course, the anti-vaccination crowd is not taking this lightly. There are reports of threats against Sen. Pan, who now must travel with additional security. Somewhat hilariously, other opponents to the bill are saying they will pull their children from schools if it passes and teach them at home instead. While some are characterizing these statements as “threats,” I prefer to think of them as “promises.” And I certainly hope they are kept.
If you refuse to vaccinate your children because of long-debunked fears about their safety, please do find an alternative to public schools to educate them. Please do homeschool them, and keep them from undermining the public health of everyone else. Please do bear the burden for your own selfish choices, and allow parents of children with leukemia or other illnesses that prevent them from being vaccinated themselves to send them to school without fear.