We Should Not Fear Vaccinations

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The debate about vaccines is a discussion that should have been settled a long time ago. Child immunization has saved millions of kids from suffering and death.

This is as true as the fact that there is no proven relationship between MMR vaccines in infants and autism, other than a 1998 medical theory that has been discredited and made its author expelled from the medical community. There are only some parental fears about inoculation of chemicals in their children, and the distrust of others of any government recommendation.

In this case, the ignorance that is putting public safety in danger is bipartisan. The defense of the parental right to make decisions about their children without interference from the nanny state is attributed to the most conservatives. In Maine and Colorado, for example, Republicans at the state legislatures are rejecting limiting the exceptions to the immunization requirements and promoting measures giving parents the right to make all the medical decisions for their children – that is, not vaccinating them.

In New York, however, it’s Democratic assemblyman Tom Abinanti – who has a child with autism – and state senator Martin Dylan who want to extend the exceptions, following an anti-vaccination philosophy that is already in place in 19 states.

The eradication of measles has shown that vaccines are successful, and the reappearance of the disease due to lack of vaccination in parts of society for years, makes plain how important they are.

Ideally, the states would legislate responsibly. If that does not happen, the federal government has to fulfill its role as custodian of public health. A proposal to vaccinate all children in the preschool Head Start programs is getting to the Senate this week. It remains to be seen whether it will fall victim of anti-government anti-science populism.

What is true is that at the end of the day those responsible for the vaccination of kids are their parents, who want the best for their children. Vaccinations are part of the healthy development of the individual and the society we live in