A Measure Of Choice Yields A Measurable Epidemic

Let’s imagine, for just one moment, that Governor Christie was not trying to appeal to a group of conservative voters and donors when he suggested that parents, “deserve a measure of choice” when it comes to having their children vaccinated. Even though he probably was appealing to potential voters, let’s pretend that his comments on vaccination requirements were strictly directed towards the state he is supposed to be in charge of right now. Incase he or anyone else forgot, he is supposed to be in charge of New Jersey.

If New Jersey’s public schools no longer required the MMR vaccine in order to attend and parents could choose whether or not to vaccinate their child, New Jersey would have a statewide epidemic on its hands, specifically effecting our impoverished urban areas.

The plague may not be created directly by the choice of parents, but rather from a different form of immediate necessity. New Jersey has more than 9 cities (Camden, Passaic, Paterson, East Orange, Newark, Vineland, Trenton, Elizabeth, Jersey City, and Union) that are considered to be areas of high concentrations of poverty. Therefore, it is very possible that tens of thousands of urban parents who may be unemployed, or who don’t have sufficient or any health insurance, would be unable to afford the vaccine. Right now, the CDC reports the MMR vaccines to cost anywhere between $50-$170, which could mean an entire week of groceries spent on a vaccine for just one child. Since most families don’t have children in 6 year intervals and multiple vaccines of different intentions are given at a doctor’s visit, there would be a likely necessity for families to vaccinate multiple children for multiple illnesses. Final bills for vaccinations alone could exceed $200 per child.

According to Jeff Tagle, a pharmacy student at Rutgers University, the Governor would be foolish to permit the State’s public schools to allow parents any measure of choice in vaccinating their children. Tagle says, “The benefits of being immunized vastly outweigh the risks of not being immunized. Non-immunized patients may not show symptoms of certain diseases, but they can become carriers of some transmissible diseases. A perfect example is the current measles outbreak in Disneyland”.

Even though it may not be a parent’s desire to decide against vaccinating their child, it may be what is the best decision at the time while living below the poverty line. When dinner is in constant question because of income inequalities and high costs of living, it is very plausible that a single vaccine equivalent to a week’s grocery bill would be passed over in an optional situation.

I don’t want to watch our impoverished communities experience a modern day epidemic because of an ill informed desire to give parents a choice of measure which could affect the masses. That exposure is not fair to anyone. Public health should be based upon scientific data and research, not quick thinking political opinions.

***

I have grown to enjoy analogizing public policy situations. I believe it helps myself and my readers understand complex social issues…

How is this situation any different from a smoking ban in public places? People grew tired of getting lung cancer and other diseases from other people’s second hand smoke. That ban made sense.

If you get where I am going with this, it seems as though banning non-immunized children from public schools who may potentially carry deadly diseases makes sense, too.

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