Hudson Valley Parent

HVP August 2016

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24 Hudson Valley Parent n August 2016 By LINDA FREEMAN I t wasn't long ago that children were routinely struck down by debilitating and often deadly diseases such as polio, measles and rubella. According to the Immunization Action Coalition, an epidemic that swept the nation in 1964 resulted in 12.5 million cases of rubella infec- tion, an estimated 20,000 newborns with congenital rubella syndrome (CRS), and excess fetal and neo-na- tal deaths that numbered in the thousands. The worst recorded polio epidemic in U.S. history occurred in 1952 with 57,628 reported cases. Today, the closest you may get to seeing someone with polio would be viewing photographs of wheel- chair-bound Franklin Delano Roos- evelt. Why? Because vaccines have all but eradicated such diseases in the U.S. In the beginning In 1966 the Center for Disease Control announced the first measles eradication campaign and within two years, measles incidence had decreased by more than 90% com- pared with pre-vaccine-era levels. In 1966, The World Health Assembly called for global smallpox eradi- cation in 1966 and by 1980, The World Health Assembly certified the world free of naturally occurring smallpox, making vaccinations now unnecessary. Vaccines have been called the greatest achievement in medical history and have proved so integral to the control and eradication of in- fectious diseases that many are now state mandated. "Vaccines for school-age children are required to protect against a number of diseases that were trans- Immunizing your school-aged child mitted prior to the development of immunizations," says Dr. Lori Hugg, a pediatrician with Crystal Run Healthcare in Newburgh. Preventing outbreaks Since infectious diseases are spread in close confines, schools are prime breeding grounds. To keep all children protected, states issue immunization schedules for every child who attends school, including vaccinations against hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio- myelitis, measles, mumps, rubella, varicella, and for September 2016, meningococcal disease. The immunization schedule itemizes what vaccines and boost- ers must be taken at what age and at what dosage (as determined by the Advisory Committee on Immu- nization Practices), affecting any child who attends day care, nursery school, kindergarten, elementary, middle or high school. Children will not be permitted to attend school without proof that he or she has received the required immunizations unless parents claim exemption for religious beliefs or medical contraindications - such as severe allergies to vaccine ingredi- ents - exist. At the heart of every parent is the desire to protect their child, which vaccines are designed to do by preventing infectious diseases. But as more and more vaccines are mandated, some parents are pushing back just as hard, leery of injecting a constant barrage of toxic substanc- es into the bodies of their healthy children. "As a family, we have always been very careful about what goes into our bodies...from food selections to pharmaceuticals," says Monica Meyle, a Kingston parent of two who decided to homeschool her children. "Just as it is the right of every citizen to know the ingredients before pur- chasing and consuming a food prod- uct. It is the parents' responsibility to make sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that their child will not be harmed or adversely affected." Autism connection? A vaccine controversy was stirred by a study from the 1990's that suggested a possible link between the MMR (mumps, measles, rubella) vaccine and autism. The study only involved 12 children and was later retracted. Further studies examining hundreds of thousands of children have found no link between the MMR vaccine and autism. There is some speculation that the autism-vaccine connection is just coincidence and that the age-specific timeline for immunizations and the age for recognizing that a child has autism might simply coincide. But as parents refuse immuniza- tion, the overall percentage of the vaccinated population drops, which opens the door for infectious diseas- es to re-establish themselves. "Although many of these diseases were effectively eradicated in the United States, outbreaks of condi-

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