The long list of pressing issues facing the Legislature for the 2016 session keeps growing: spiraling college costs, unaffordable health care, gun control, deteriorating roads. But the one issue facing all of Colorado that can’t go untended this session is vaccination.
Colorado regularly ranks worst or near-worst in the nation for vaccination rates, and it’s costing lives, health and millions of dollars.
The problem stems from past legislators, succumbing to fake science and political pressure, who were either sympathetic to odd parents who didn’t want to vaccinate their children, or shortsighted in thinking that making it easy to “opt-out” of mandatory vaccines was just no big deal.
The root of most of this building crisis comes from a discredited study run by a discredited doctor to tie autism to childhood vaccinations, and the U.S. media bought the hoax hook, line and sinker, helping to legitimize it. The groundless claim and fake study have since been debunked endless times. There is not one reputable pediatrician, pediatric organization, hospital, clinic or researcher that does not vehemently work to debunk the autism lie and beg parents to vaccinate their children.
In Colorado, it’s much easier to say that you don’t want to vaccinate children than to prove that you have.
Many lawmakers and much of the public erroneously believed that since the bulk of the “herd” was vaccinated against potentially lethal diseases such as measles, polio and whooping cough, we’re all protected.
They’re wrong. Dead wrong for some people. The incidence of those diseases continues to increase as vaccination rates decline. Last year reports of deaths of people with depressed immune systems sounded an alarm for all of us: Colorado, and the country, is at grave risk.
One death followed a measles outbreak at Disneyland earlier this year that sickened 100 people, all because foolish, misled, selfish people have avoided childhood vaccination rules.
Real scientists and medical professionals have been unequivocal: The purported danger of childhood vaccines are lies. Dangerous lies.
Colorado must join California in solving an ailing public health problem that’s easy to cure. This summer, California virtually eliminated all exemptions to that state’s childhood vaccination policy.
“The science is clear that vaccines dramatically protect children against a number of infectious and dangerous diseases,” said Gov. Jerry Brown. “While it’s true that no medical intervention is without risk, the evidence shows that immunization powerfully benefits and protects the community.”
California now requires every child who attends a public school or college to undergo vaccination. Colorado must do the same thing to prevent death and disease caused by irresponsible and reckless parents.
The state cannot command these vaccinations, but lawmakers certainly can force scofflaws to stay away from public programs and venues. Schools, rec centers, colleges, day cares and employers should all demand that people comply with vaccination programs.
A sorry response by Colorado lawmakers earlier this year does nothing but increase reporting of vaccination rates and make it only slightly less easy to not vaccinate school-age children.
It’s almost unthinkable that a country like the United States would slide back decades in health care progress, risking the lives of millions of Americans potentially exposed to diseases we nearly eradicated — because of lies, laziness or ignorant fear.
But parents still won’t listen and comply. So the only answer is to change the law. Follow California’s lead here and prevent needless death and disease here in Colorado.