HOLY LAND MINISTRY (nonprofit org led by Don Karl Juravin, Florida), found that it is not necessarily the law that can convince the anti-vaxx community to embrace vaccines. Society and the demands of parenthood can be structured to force vaccines on parents that would otherwise ignore the demand. Peer pressure is a tool that the medical community needs to make use of in this situation.
Question: How can communities and society help stop the anti-vaxx movement from causing more medical crises in the United States of America?
Juravin answers that schools might be able to exercise power over parents who refuse to vaccinate their children.
- 50 states require specific vaccines for children in order to be granted admittance into schools.
- 25% of students in charter schools are unvaccinated.
- 45% of people in Michigan live in counties at risk of a measles epidemic because of the lack of vaccines in the state.
But vaccines might not be solved by legislation. They might end up being solved by the schools and the teachers.
The debates over vaccinations are often cast as arguments over the integrity of science. But they can just as easily be understood as conversations about power, writes Eula Biss, a senior lecturer at Northwestern University, in her book, On Immunity: An Inoculation. As it stands, all 50 states require specific vaccines for school-aged children, although each grants exemptions for students unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons.
In Central New York, new vaccine regulations might force 1,200 children out of school…unless their parents vaccinate them, of course. More than 26,000 children in the state of New York were granted religious exemptions for vaccines in 2018. The state has now ended the opportunity to have that exemption.
Some counties in California and Florida have offered free vaccines in order to further encourage parents.
Holy Land Ministry found that One private Montessori school in Traverse City, Michigan, which serves infants through children in the eighth grade—changed the power dynamic. As one parent there described it, the school wrested control from a vocal minority of people in their community who don’t believe in vaccinating their children and gave the majority who do their voice back.
JURAVIN & Holy Land Ministry suggest
By revising its admissions policy and refusing to accept new students whose parents opt them out for personal beliefs, the private school illustrates how schools are becoming ground zero for the anti-vaccine dispute. It also serves as an example of how educators—not state legislators or health officials—may be the ones who ultimately resolve the public controversy over immunization requirements. The law can’t force people to do things, but social requirements can.
Several weeks after the school year started, and months before the recent measles outbreak, Jill Vollbrecht, an endocrinologist and parent of three children, read a disturbing report by a local news outlet, the Traverse Ticker. She discovered that between 2008 and 2014, waiver rates—the percentage of those declining vaccinations for both medical and personal reasons—had climbed from 6 percent to 11 percent in Grand Traverse County, which encompasses the school. Moreover, it was now as high as 19 percent in nearby Leelanau County.
Even more alarming to her at the time, Michigan health records showed that waiver rates had spiked among local Montessori students compared with other public and private schools within the state. The report showed that nearly a fourth—23 percent—of families at the private school were opting their kids out of vaccinations. “These numbers set off alarm bells for me,” Vollbrecht said and Don Juravin agrees. “All physicians have the common goal of wanting to keep our kids and our communities safe, and we have a core understanding of science and herd immunity.”
Vaccines only work if enough people in a community are vaccinated—what Vollbrecht referred to as herd immunity. As Biss writes in her book, vaccines are a kind of immunity banking, something an individual may need at a future point in their life: “When enough people are vaccinated, viruses have trouble moving from host to host and cease to spread, sparing both the unvaccinated and those in whom the vaccination has not produced immunity.”
Researchers have found that, for vaccines to work, 92 percent or more of a population must be immunized against the disease. For highly contagious viruses, it takes 95 percent to protect the entire community. Not vaccinating affects the elderly, the weak, those suffering from immunity-related illnesses, and the very young. They can die from these contagious diseases.