With school back in session and colder seasons ahead, it’s an important time to remind parents of the importance of vaccinating their children against dangerous diseases.
In 2019, the Washington State Legislature passed a bill that removes philosophical and personal exemptions to obtaining the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine for children entering schools. This bill was enacted in response to the active measles outbreak in 2019, the worst outbreak in the nation since 1992. Measles is profoundly contagious and can result in severe disease in children, especially the youngest. The MMR vaccine gives very effective immunity to this disease.
“This law is a good thing for our community because it fulfills an obligation of safety to our neighbors, schoolmates, and community members,” said Aaron Beck, M.D., family physician, Providence Medical Group – West Olympia Family Medicine. “It is particularly important to those who can’t receive the vaccine due to age or illness by helping to prevent terrible diseases and help stem the ongoing outbreak. It instills confidence that our schools remain safe places where we can send our children.”
Measles, Mumps, and Rubella are dangerous diseases and in extreme cases can be fatal for children. Symptoms include the following:
- Sore throat
- Swollen salivary glands
- Inflammation of the brain and tissue covering the brain and spinal cord.
“As a father myself, I am familiar with the fear and anxiety inherent in parenting as we have to make important decisions in our children’s lives without sufficient information,” Dr. Beck said. “Fortunately, the MMR vaccine isn’t one of those situations. When discussing vaccine safety, your provider can stand on mountains of information obtained over decades that confirm that vaccines are safe, particularly the MMR vaccine.”
In addition to the MMR vaccine, it’s important for every child who can receive their seasonal flu vaccine to get one. The new law doesn’t require students to receive the flu vaccine, but most physicians highly recommend it.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), influenza, commonly known as the flu, hospitalizes young children more than any other vaccine-preventable disease. The single best way to protect against seasonal flu and its potential severe complications is for children to get a seasonal flu vaccine each year. Dr. Beck has also seen the flu vaccine as a useful tool in reducing the severe effects of the disease if a child does get the flu.
“I always end the vaccine conversation with my patients in relaying my thoughts on the “big picture” of medicine,” Dr. Beck said. “Vaccines are one of the great successes in medicine in terms of total lives saved, most of them children.”
Contact your child’s primary care provider to make sure they are up-to-date on all vaccines.
Don’t delay: Immunize your infant against disease
Coming together to end the measles outbreak
How to get through your child’s flu
Information about the efficacy and safety of vaccines:
American Academy of Pediatrics vaccine website
American Academy of Family Practice vaccine website
About the AuthorMore Content by Providence Children's Health Team