EDITORIAL: Vaccinated students don’t get meningitis
The Port Neches-Groves ISD had a nail-biter last week, and it didn’t happen on the football field. A student was tested for meningitis, and the situation could have caused district officials to remove other students who didn’t get their required immunizations from school.
Fortunately, a test revealed that the student was not infected, so no students had their education disrupted. Depending on the severity of the threat, unvaccinated youngsters can be excluded from school activities for quite some time, as long as the “incubation period” between exposure to a disease and the appearance of symptoms.
This time, the focus was on PN-G, but it could have happened at almost any school district in the region. Only the Evadale and Deweyville ISDs had no vaccine exemptions for the 2016-17, the latest year for which statistics are available. The Kirbyville CISD had the highest rate, almost 2.5 percent
Statewide, less than 1 percent of public school students are not vaccinated for what are called conscientious exemptions, but that was 53,000 students last year. Moreover, the number is increasing in recent years. In the 2015-16 school year, 44,716 students were not vaccinated.
Of all the problems facing public schools in Texas, this is one that could be sharply reduced, if not eliminated. And that would happen if all parents allowed their children to be vaccinated for communicable diseases like meningitis.
State law allows parents to exempt their kids from this common-sense protection for religious or personal reasons. While state officials should be as tolerant as possible on social issues, public health should not be needlessly compromised. Other states make it harder for parents to opt out of vaccines, such as requiring them to watch a brief video before making that decision.
Despite a lot of misinformation on the internet about vaccines, they have been proven to be safe and effective. Nothing is 100 percent in life, but we all should wear seat belts in cars despite a tiny chance that they could cause a problem in an accident.
The same logic should apply to vaccines that can prevent your children from getting seriously ill, or even dying. Don’t take that risk.
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