Protect Our Children and Communities against Vaccine-Preventable Diseases
This petition had 2,483 supporters
Vaccines are consistently cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as the most important public health intervention of the 20th Century, second only to clean water. Vaccinating according to the recommended childhood vaccine schedule will save nearly 732,000 lives and prevent 21 million hospitalizations in the children who have been vaccinated over the past two decades, yet that progress is now at risk.
Vaccines protect people of all ages from serious, life-threatening diseases. However, no vaccine is 100% effective. In addition, people with suppressed immune systems, such as those undergoing treatment for cancer, and children too young to be immunized cannot be fully protected from diseases by vaccines. For these reasons, everyone who can be vaccinated, should be vaccinated in order to prevent a disease from spreading through the community. This is known as herd immunity.
Each state decides which immunizations are required for children’s enrollment and attendance in their licensed daycare centers and schools. These mandates along with allowable exemptions to these mandates vary state to state. Some states allow only medical exemptions, while others permit nonmedical exemptions. Misinformation about vaccines’ effectiveness and safety has caused some parents to question whether they should immunize their children. As a result, the number of parents obtaining nonmedical exemptions in order to avoid vaccinating their children has risen. Some communities are leaving over 20% of their children vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases. Parents who decline immunizations for their children are making a choice that not only affects their children, but also their community.
As parents, healthcare providers and public health experts, we are urging states and communities across the country to protect our children by vaccinating them according to the CDC-recommended immunization schedule. State governments can support the efforts of parents and the medical and public health communities in two ways:
1. Tighten laws for nonmedical exemptions. There are legitimate medical contraindications that preclude certain children from being vaccinated. Medical exemptions are therefore an important part of our national vaccination program. Non-medical exemptions, however, should be subject to rigorous standards. Parents who seek non-medical exemptions should first have to speak with a health care provider to fully understand not only the safety and efficacy of vaccines, but also the dangers of vaccine-preventable diseases for their children as well as their communities. Parents should then have to sign a declination form, stating their understanding of the risks of not vaccinating, and be required to renew this form annually for each vaccine they choose to decline.
2. Release the vaccine exemption rates for each licensed daycare center and public school in their state. Parents have the right to know the level of exposure their children may have to dangerous vaccine-preventable diseases, particularly if their children are immune compromised. By releasing this information, parents of at-risk children will be able to make informed decisions about their potential for contracting a vaccine-preventable disease.
Parents have the right to know their children are as safe as possible when they are at daycare or school. Please sign this petition to urge state legislators to protect our children and our communities against dangerous vaccine-preventable diseases.
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