The vaccine debate is one of the most frustrating things we deal with as parents. It's frustrating because there really should be no debate! We have, at our fingertips, safe and effective ways to prevent the spread of serious and potentially deadly diseases. We've been given an actual gift from medical and scientific research and advancement. We've been able to completely eradicate diseases that use to sicken, maim, and even kill kids and adults. We're able to spare our own kids the pain and discomfort of being infected with flu or chicken pox.
Vaccines have created a herd immunity that protects our most vulnerable citizens, like babies and the elderly and those with weakened or compromised immune systems. But parents still continue not to vaccinate their kids. They do so for various reasons - fear over debunked research saying vaccines are dangerous or cause autism, fear over rare but serious side effects, and some even cite religion as the reason they forgo vaccines. In most schools in this country, vaccines are required for students to be enrolled, but some school still allow exemptions for religious or medical reasons. However, one school in Ohio is putting an end to at least one form of exemption.
The Hebrew Academy of Cleveland sent a note to parents last week letting them know that they would no longer be accepting religious exemptions as a reason for children not being up to date on their vaccinations. There is currently an outbreak of measles in New York and an outbreak of chicken pox in North Carolina, so the decision to remove the religious exemption comes at a crucial time. The letter states that while the school recognizes that there are very strong viewpoints on both sides of the vaccine argument, they are unwilling to deviate from their new vaccine protocol in the best interest of their students.
According to the World Health Organization, there was a 30% rise in preventable measles cases between 2016-2017. The decision to ban a widely-used exemption may seem controversial, but it's clearly necessary. In the state of Ohio, kids are required to have six vaccines to attend school, including chicken pox and measles. The school says it is weighing whether or not to make the flu shot a requirement, as well.