The state of West Virginia works to stay above other states like Alabama and Mississippi in the bottom of most health rankings. Unfortunately, we have a lot of issues where the state ranks 50th out of 50 states. One of our bright spots is childhood immunizations. It is an area we rank number one. In fact, strong immunization laws have kept measles out of the Mountain State.
The year 2019 saw measles making a comeback tour across the United States. West Virginia was lucky in missing that comeback tour, or was it great planning? The West Virginia legislature decided many years ago to ensure children in school—public and private—were up-to-date on “their shots.” The exception to that law allows children with valid medical reasons, such as those in treatment for certain cancers or with allergies to vaccine ingredients, to be granted a medical exemption.
Every year, a vocal minority advocates for what they misguidedly call healthcare freedom. Usually offering pseudo or debunked science as a reason, they don’t want to vaccinate their children before they go to school. A well-known, now infamous, United Kingdom physician, Andrew Wakefield, lost his license to practice medicine for falsely reporting injuries from vaccines. Well-meaning parents receive bad information. In today’s social-media-filled environment, they run with whatever they have.
With certain exceptions, vaccines are safe for the person taking them. Vaccines work with “herd immunity,” which keeps the incidence of disease to a minimum. Vaccines are effective when the herd immunity is in effect. Vaccines prevent diseases like measles mumps and rubella along with certain types of cancer.
The best advice someone can get when looking for information is from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC gives patients and providers information about what vaccines to take and when. The information on the CDC website is scientific.