Kansas’ plan to add meningitis and hepatitis A to the list of required vaccinations for school-age children was met last week with passionate objection from a group of citizens concerned about mandatory immunizations.

But with measles outbreaks occurring across the country, there should be no doubt about the need to expand the state’s list of required vaccines that includes measles, whooping cough, mumps and chickenpox.

About 1,020 cases of measles have been reported in the United States this year through June 6, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than half of those infected were not vaccinated against the highly contagious and potentially life-threatening disease.

Kansas health officials correctly argue that the time to act is now — before cases of other contagious diseases begin to multiply.

”Part of public health is not waiting on something that is preventable,” said pediatrician Gretchen Homan, chair of the Immunize Kansas Coalition.

Meningitis is a serious disease that can lead to seizures, coma and even death. Hepatitis A is a liver disease that causes fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, fatigue and other symptoms.

While both of these illnesses are dangerous, they are preventable.

The CDC estimates that more than one-fourth of Kansas teens between 13 and 17 years old are not vaccinated against meningitis, ranking the state near the bottom in the country for teen vaccinations.

Tasha Haas, a writing instructor at Kansas City Kansas Community College, spoke against the requirement at a hearing in Topeka last week.

”Vaccine science is tobacco science,” Haas told The Wichita Eagle.

But science is not on Haas’ side. Vaccines are safe and effective. The CDC and other leading health authorities are unequivocal in recommending that children be vaccinated. But increasingly, experts are doing battle against misinformation.

Opponents of expanding immunization requirements say families should have absolute freedom to make their own health care decisions. But their freedom should not come at the expense of public health.

”We listen to citizens and take into account their concerns, and then we weigh the evidence,” said Kristi Pankratz, director of communications for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. “We establish policies that balance health risk, benefit, scientific and clinical evidence, and hope that our citizens’ commitment to their loved ones and others will be enough to choose to be vaccinated.”

The proposal, which would maintain exemptions for medical and religious reasons, would bring Kansas in line with the recommendations of the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices.

The new rules could go into effect by the start of the school year, officials say. For the sake of public health, Kansas should not delay.

Kansas City Star

(8) comments

Justice81

Note: I will Report (Delete) Comments that don't also have a REPLY showing. The Gazette should have a REPLY listed also. Not doing so, is NOT being fair.

Aim_High

Note: The people whose comments you are reporting aren't in control over whether there is a reply button showing or not, and it's not fair to them to have some clown to come along and have their opinions removed. All you are doing is stifling peoples 1st amendment. Get a grip, Gary Lukert.

Aim_High

Anti-Vax folks aren't worth arguing with... they are just as bad as conspiracy theorists with their government control nonsense. You'll also notice most of them have someone in their lives with some sort of disorder that they are blaming on vaccines. While I do feel bad for them, the best thing we can do is just ignore them, and hope their poor children never come into contact with and have to suffer through any of these preventable viruses. You know when someone tells you "do your research" on a topic they are totally wrong about, arguing is going to be pointless.

jeronimo

"ideas so Good, they have to be Mandatory" --- so if i understand correctly --we are going to force vaccinations on our population---but not have a fence at all at the border and we as a nation will just let the hordes of unvaccinated flood into our land ---sounds like a plan from the democrat play book on how to make a population be dependent on government services and weak.

Justice81

I have a line of thought on Vaccinations: Don't require Vaccinations---just let people die from them, IF IT IS THEIR CHOOSING! But, then, when it is their Minor Child that gets Measles or whatever, it is the CHILD that Dies or just gets sick! Before Vaccines, Millions died from Small Pox! Millions died from Diphtheria. And, POLIO, well as I am "up in years" I vividly recall Polio...back in the 40s, 50s! Polio, since Jonas Salk's Vaccine, has all, but, been Totally been wiped out. But, for any parent...who won't let their child be vaccinated, and their child contracts a disease, that could have been prevented with vaccine...I don't have one ounce of "sorry" for them, if their child should die. Yes, I would for the child, but, nothing for the parent.

SnowGypsy

You might want to educate yourself on the facts when it comes to side effects of some of the vaccinations. Most of those that die are people who are already hanging on to life by a thread, just do your research. MMR vaccine? Yeah, everyone had that when I was a child, and no one died. This is all about politicians being lobbied by the pharmaceutical companies - just look at who makes big political donations. Also, secure the border as they are bringing in diseases and viruses that were rare, add to that stop bringing in 3rd world refugees by the thousands!

jeronimo

Oh heck ---"you can trust me, i am from the government and i would never mislead you or misrepresent something as being safe that isn't." hahaaaahahah lol gosh probably ought to make is mandatory---it is just sooooo good for you ---line up sheep!!!! baaaaaaaa

SnowGypsy

CDC has been proven to be in bed with the pharmaceutical companies. I pity anyone that takes advise from the CDC. What has happened is with the internet, people are able to do the research and make informed decisions thus profits being down. If they make vaccinations/flu shots/other poisons mandatory for children, more and more parents will choose homeschooling. From 1999 to 2012, homeschooling more than doubled. In 2012, 1.8 million children were being homeschooled. In 2018, 2.0 million. It is all about choosing to be informed, or letting someone else make choices for you.

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