Our view: Vaccines work
Debate over whether or not vaccines cause autism and whether or not parents should risk vaccinating their children has been going on for two decades, and as a result of more parents opting not to vaccinate, Colorado now tops the list of states facing a potential measles outbreak, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
As of last month, there were 206 confirmed cases of measles reported in 11 states, including one in Colorado. A state-by-state survey conducted by the CDC shows that Colorado is at a higher risk of an outbreak than any other state in the nation based on the percentage of kindergarteners vaccinated for MMR – measles, mumps and rubella in 2017-18. The state has an 88.7 percent vaccination rate, and Colorado is one of the easiest states for parents to receive a vaccine exemption.
Locally, vaccination rates in Routt County schools range from 86 percent at North Routt Community Charter School to 100 percent at Soroco Preschool. In the Steamboat Springs School District, the vaccination rates average 94.2 percent.
At issue: Colorado’s low vaccination rate puts it at risk for a measles outbreak.
Our View: Vaccines keep our communities safe from diseases like measles, mumps, rubella and polio.
• Logan Molen, publisher
• Lisa Schlichtman, editor
• Robin Stone, community representative
• Steve Hofman, community representative
Contact the Editorial Board at 970-871-4221 or lschlichtman@
We don’t want to berate parents for choosing not to vaccinate — that’s a personal decision – but we do want to encourage families to choose the common good over personal choice, especially given the reality that virtually every study asserting a link between vaccines and increased rates of autism has been shown to be the product of falsified or misleading data.
In today’s world, information, whether true or false, can go viral, and all too often, people end up searching the web until they uncover articles that offer confirmation rather than unbiased, fact-based information. This has been the case with the initial reporting that linked autism to vaccination and is a major reason why illnesses thought to be conquered are now threatening to return in force.
How solid is the science that debunks the myths? A recent study, conducted in Denmark and involving 657,461 children, which represented all children born in Denmark to Danish-born mothers from 1999 to 2010, followed the kids from age 1 through August 2013. It found that children who received the MMR vaccine were 7 percent less likely to develop autism than children who were not vaccinated.
We also believe another factor in lower vaccination rates can be attributed to the fact that younger generations are farther removed from the reality of disease outbreaks. People who are now 50 and older most likely know someone who was affected by polio, but many younger parents have never experienced the threat of serious epidemics, and as a result, the consequences of not vaccinating their child from these deadly diseases can seem less threatening.
The bottom line, in our opinion, is pretty clear — millions of lives have been saved by vaccines, and the recent outbreak of measles in the Northwest, combined with the threat of an outbreak in Colorado, serves as a reminder that our children are best protected if they receive the MMR vaccination.
We hope local families will look beyond the myths, seek valid information and have candid conversations with their pediatricians about the pros and cons of vaccination. Some states, including Colorado, are considering legislation that would ban vaccine exemptions for philosophical or personal beliefs. It shouldn’t have to come to that, but if it does, we believe public safety trumps personal rights, especially when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable in society — our children.
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