A private school in Cleveland Heights, Ohio is cracking down on anti-vaxxers who cite religious reasons for not having their children vaccinated. The Hebrew Academy of Cleveland, which serves over 1,000 students from preschool to high school, sent a letter home to parents earlier this month informing them that religious exemption will no longer be accepted as a valid excuse for non-vaccination.
According to the letter, the school’s stand is due to recent outbreaks of measles in Jewish communities around the world, including the United States. Over the past month, more than 100 cases of measles have been reported within two Orthodox Jewish communities in New York, and the number continues to climb. A recent chickenpox outbreak in North Carolina also contributed to the school’s decision.
Dr. Baruch Fertel with the Cleveland Clinic, whose children attend the school, supports the new policy. He told Cleveland 19 News, “We see from these outbreaks that it can just spread like wildfire and cause harm.” He went on to say, “There’s really no good credible science for someone not to be vaccinated.”
The school will only allow exemptions based on medical concerns, such as allergies and immune deficiencies. Their letter reads in part:
Effective immediately, all students enrolled in HAC are to be vaccinated with only the following exception: A child, whose physician certifies in writing that immunization against a disease is medically contraindicated and the reason for it, is not required to be immunized against that disease.
Ohio immunization laws require all students to be vaccinated against chickenpox, poliomyelitis, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, measles (rubeola), mumps, rubella, and hepatitis B. However, according to the National Vaccine Information Centre, only 3 states — California, Mississippi, and West Virginia — do NOT allow for religious exemption. The other 47 states do, including Ohio.
The school does recognize that mandatory vaccinations may not be applauded by everyone.
We recognize that there are families that have strong views on both sides of this issue. However, this is not an area where we can accommodate any deviation from this new protocol.
Dr. Fertel believes that anti-vaxxers have been influenced too heavily in their choice not to vaccinate by pop culture, rather than by religious beliefs.
A lot of it has to do with prominent celebrities all across the spectrum, even some politicians have weighted into this discussion. Some people choose not to vaccinate because they may have read some medical literature that raised some questions. That literature has really been discredited.
He also stated that there is a possibility that the flu shot may be added to the list of mandatory vaccines in the future.
Want to spark a no-holds-barred debate on social media? Mention vaccines. People have extremely strong opinions for and against immunization. Yes, it is a personal choice, and a number of countries do not require mandatory vaccines. HOWEVER. Vaccinations work based on herd immunity. The more people immunized, the greater the chance the disease will be eradicated.
Measles requires 95% of a population to be vaccinated in order to prevent outbreaks. Let’s take a look at Europe, shall we? According to the World Health Organization, measles has just reached record highs with over 41,000 people infected in the first 6 months of 2018, and a marked decrease in vaccinations is to blame.
The diseases that we have vaccinations for kill people. It’s scientific fact. By choosing not to vaccinate those in the population who can be (barring people with allergies and the immunocompromised), we are potentially, needlessly, causing serious complications and possible death to those who are unable to be protected.
Something I hope everyone seriously considers when making a choice that ultimately does not just affect themselves.