Virginia lawmaker John O’Bannon would like to see parents who refuse to vaccinate their children be “held accountable,” although as of this post he hasn’t elaborated on how he’d like to see that happen.
According to WTVR (Richmond), the Richmond Republican, who is also a physician, is alarmed at the return of preventable diseases such as mumps, chicken pox, and especially measles, thanks largely to parents who refuse to vaccinate their children.
“We are paying the price for letting people opt-out. We understand that citizens have a right not to vaccinate their children. But we have basic public health laws that have been around for years that show measles, mumps, and chicken pox — all of these contagious illnesses — are better served by having people vaccinate their kids.”
Virginia, like most other states, has laws on the books requiring parents to vaccinate their children. However, parents in Virginia may opt-out of vaccinations if they have written notice from their doctor that the child’s health would be compromised if he/she were vaccinated, or if the parent objects to vaccinations on religious grounds, according to CNN.
Virginia’s vaccination laws are neither the most liberal in the nation, nor the strictest. Several states, including California, allow for medical, religious, or “personal belief” exemptions from mandatory vaccinations. The strictest states, when it comes to mandatory vaccinations, are Utah and West Virginia, which have no exceptions other than medical.
Measles was considered all but eradicated in the United States as recently as 2000, but has seen a resurgence thanks largely to the anti-vaccination movement. Currently, an outbreak of measles has spawned at least 100 cases of infected individuals in 14 states, with at least 58 of them traceable to an outbreak that began in December at Disneyland.
The situation has gotten so bad that the federal government has entered into the vaccination debate. On Monday of this week, according to this Inquisitr report, President Obama gave an interview in which he urged parents to vaccinate their children.
“There is every reason to get vaccinated — there aren’t reasons to not.”
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director Tom Frieden also spoke about the vaccine controversy Sunday morning on Face the Nation.
“We are very concerned by the growing number of people who are susceptible to measles and to the possibility that we could have a large outbreak in this country as a result.”
Currently, there are no federal requirements for vaccinations, although whether the recent resurgence of measles will change that remains to be seen.
It also remains to be seen whether the outbreak will lead to change in Virginia’s vaccination requirements.
[Image courtesy of: Thai News]