Boston Globe Opinion: College vaccination necessities could result in different well being disparities
Thanks to Alison Chapman of Massachusetts for posting this opinion piece that ran on the Boston Globe. It’s surprising they did it, but I learned a saying decades ago, “Don’t punish progress,” and this opinion piece is important information that could help thousands of families whose children are excluded from school.
Education improves health and is linked to lower mortality.
By Sylvia Fogel, Andrew Zimmerman, Charlotte Mao and John GaitanisUpdated July 10, 2021 at 3:00 a.m.
COVID-19 vaccines illustrate the transformative power of vaccination to control infectious diseases, and some schools have implemented mandates. In this regard, Massachusetts lawmakers are considering two vaccination laws that would end or restrict access to school, daycare, or even college for approximately 1 percent of children or young adults in Massachusetts who apply a religious exemption. One of the bills would also allow children to be vaccinated without the consent or knowledge of their parents – regardless of age or ability – and also restrict medical exemptions. While broad vaccination coverage is important to control infectious diseases, it is imperative that citizens recognize the devastating consequences of these bills.
With the highest vaccination rates in the country, Massachusetts is largely protected from disease outbreaks. Over the past decade, vaccination rates have improved, and the religious exemption, most commonly used to go without a vaccine or two, has remained constant at around 1 percent. Simply put, there is no vaccination problem in Massachusetts. Exclusion of children from school risks bigger and more serious public health problems.
Loss of access to education is in itself a threat to public health. Education improves health and is linked to lower mortality. Education is crucial for low-income and colored communities to reduce inequalities related to racism and socio-economic disadvantage. The past year confirms the downside of losing school, especially for the economically disadvantaged and black and Latin American students. Schoolchildren with special needs and families would also be severely affected. You are crucially dependent on special education to teach communication, basic skills and self-regulation. Families with special needs face tremendous challenges and a higher rate of serious mental symptoms in need of support. Marginalized communities need more educational support, not less.
Even more threatening to many parents would be that the community immunity law would allow vaccinations without parental consent, even if a child is young or mentally disabled. The parents would never know because the medical records would be hidden unless a court ordered the release or the child gave written consent. The determination is ripe for error and abuse, and children who experience adverse events may not have access to adequate medical care. We think parents would be amazed at this possibility.