To Vax or Not to Vax
The flu season; renewing scandal among parents and sickness within schools.
High schools can easily be regarded as petri dishes come this time of year. Close proximity, disputable hygiene practices, and for some, constant contact all comprise the ideal medium for disease to spread. And with the popularization of gruesome stories depicting vile pandemics ravaging civilization, outbreaks are constantly amplified. The dispute, however, comes with the regulation of immunizations, bringing to question what extent school districts will go to in order to prevent the next epidemic.
Immunization regulations are left to be determined by each state, resulting in wide variants between regions. Colorado state law allows exemptions for both medical reasons and reasons based on personal beliefs. Jeffco, like many other districts, follows state guidelines; however, the enforcement differs between schools. In an effort to combat disease outbreaks, Seattle Public Schools recently barred students not meeting the requirements established by the State of Washington from returning to school. Washington State regulations allow only medical exemptions. Alison Saylor RN, MSEd Wheat Ridge Area District Nurse clarifies.
“Seattle allowed personal exemptions until they had a measles outbreak. The chaos that this caused made lawmakers rethink their laws. They did this to protect the whole population and halt a larger outbreak. Parents still have the choice, but if they chose to not immunize they have to keep their students home. They can’t have it both ways. Public health is about looking at what is safe for the majority.” Saylor said.
By receiving a vaccination or filing for an exemption, a student becomes classified as compliant. Compliancy is simply remaining within the guidelines of the law and does not require an immunization, however, noncompliance still poses an issue in schools. Stephanie Duncan RN, BSN Standley Lake’s nurse, describes the conflict faced in many schools.
“We can’t kick you out of school, however, our principal has encouraged exclusion,” she said.
Some believe that exclusion directly contends with the school’s belief in students’ rights to an education. As a result, this conflict is often presented in what Duncan describes as diplomatic exclusion, where a noncompliant student would be called down to the office and asked to fill out an exemption form to meet the compliance standard. Standley’s compliance rate is at 99.23%, and the cumulative Jeffco compliance is 97.725%, which is higher than ever due to the work of nurses and health aids.
“Getting an exemption makes the student ‘compliant,’ but if an outbreak of say measles occurred in the school, a student with any exemption would have to be out of school by health department quarantine for up to 21 days for each new student who gets the disease. In New York, some students were out for 2 months.” Saylor said.
Doctor Mike Cass MD cautions the faults of immunizations, stressing potential autoimmune disorders from harmful vaccine manufacturing as well as the use of unsafe preservatives.
“The problem is in the implementation of how we are administering them, I think a lot of problems with vaccines can be eliminated,” he said.
He mentions how the use of toxic fixers to halt bacterial and viral growth including thimerosal, a mercury-containing compound used in the flu vaccine, is harmful as the immune system associates this toxicity with the helpful pathogens that allow for immunity. He explains that in cases where organic matter is used in a vaccine’s production, the immune system will associate cell membranes with the disease resulting, in some cases, in autoimmune disorders. In the case of Seattle, however, Cass does not oppose state regulation so long as it is a state-funded school.
“I don’t believe that anybody should be compelled to inject something into their body or into their child’s body that they don’t want to have injected into them,” he concludes.
A statement released by the FDA addressing vaccines containing thimerosal clarifies that “a vaccine containing 0.01% thimerosal as a preservative contains approximately 25 micrograms of mercury per 0.5 mL dose.” To put this in perspective, 25 micrograms is equivalent to 5.5116 e-8 pounds. For those concerned, there are many vaccines available excluding thimerosal for children, adolescents, and adults.
Colorado witnessed the third death from the flu this season. One of these incidences included a four-year-old Pueblo boy whose parents consulted an anti-vaccination Facebook group who recommended thyme and elderberries to relieve the boy’s symptoms.
“There does not seem to be any techniques to convince parents of the overall benefit of vaccines as they tend to go with non-scientific information and ‘experts’ to fuel their ideas. It’s frustrating. I had a 7 week old patient in Children’s Hospital who arrested twice in my shift from pertussis (whooping cough) and another who died of polio so I have seen first-hand how severe these diseases can be,” Saylor said.
| Bridget Ronning