by Dr. Stephanie Salazar Dr. Stephanie Salazar is co-founder and Chief Medical Officer of “Be Thou Prepared”, a non-profit organization committed to educating and empowering parents on the best possible vaccination options for their child.
The measles outbreak that killed more than a dozen people in California may have been precipitated by the number of measles vaccines (MMR), which may have caused the patient to be ill much sooner, and may lead to emergency room visits and possibly missed work days. However, non-vaccinated individuals have been exposed to this outbreak and may continue to be exposed for some time.
One of the easiest but most important steps parents can take in the face of this outbreak is to ask their pediatrician about alternative infant vaccines, like those for pertussis, whooping cough, and rotavirus. Many of these vaccines are not a part of an older child’s routine shots, but still may prevent serious illness or death in a child whose shot was compromised or missed.
Earlier this year, the Oregon Senate passed a bill that would allow school districts to decide whether to offer vaccination alternatives to infants up to one year old, as is already the case for all those enrolled in schools in Oregon.
Although the bill does not include additional vaccine alternatives for older children and adults, the overwhelming support of the bill demonstrates that people are ready to move beyond debating the medical effects of vaccinations and look at best practices in personal health decisions. Whether an individual wishes to have a vaccination for your child or chooses not to vaccinate them due to religious, personal, or personal beliefs, let me be clear: even those with valid personal reasons for refusing vaccines will have to act responsibly to protect their children. By refusing to allow their children access to alternative childhood vaccines, parents are undermining vaccination by avoiding side effects, vaccines are less likely to be available to those who are need them. While individual behavior can significantly impact the choice for vaccination, it is parents, not lawmakers, who are ultimately responsible for the health of their children.
COVID vaccines are right for kids and everyone else. In 2016, the FDA revised its laws to allow for alternative shots for babies up to 12 months old. Still, some laws vary, and some state laws mandate that vaccinations are offered. There is also potential for delayed vaccines to be offered, including for pertussis and rotavirus. Anyone who may be exposed to an individual with an infection must take appropriate steps to protect themselves and others, like getting vaccinated themselves. Today, there are many great options available when it comes to vaccination in Oregon that allow parents to make intelligent decisions about their child’s future well-being.
In the face of this measles outbreak, parents can take action now to protect their children and their communities. The best way to get rid of measles is by vaccinating yourself and those around you, whether it’s a family member or an otherwise unvaccinated neighbor or stranger. If you think your child needs to have a vaccine or you are worried about the risks of a vaccine related side effect, follow some guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, your pediatrician, or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Make your choices and educate yourselves.
Dr. Stephanie Salazar is co-founder and Chief Medical Officer of “Be Thou Prepared”, a non-profit organization committed to educating and empowering parents on the best possible vaccination options for their child. She is a Mayo Clinic alumna.
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