This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Thursday, July 2, 2015

The War on Vaccines is Over in California--Vaccines (and Good Health) Won

It is very easy in the 21st century in a rich country with low mortality to take good health for granted. We know that we need doctors and hospitals when we get really sick or are injured, but for the most part we are healthy. Good on us, right?? Not quite. It is the marriage of public health and medicine that gives us the long lives that we currently have. This has all come about largely within the past 200 years as a result of the application of science to health. It was not magic, and it has nothing to do with us as individuals--except that we are the beneficiaries. One of the early pieces in the puzzle was vaccination--first small pox in the late 18th century, and then many other diseases since then, including measles. And, of course, it was the outbreak of measles from visitors to Disneyland in late 2014 that highlighted the fact that an increasing number of children in California were not being vaccinated. This week, Governor Jerry Brown of California signed a law requiring parents to vaccinate their kids:
California children will no longer be able to skip the shots normally required to attend school because of their parents' religious or personal objections. Unvaccinated children will still be able to attend school if there is a medical reason why they're not able to be immunized, such as treatment for cancer.

While all 50 states require school children to be vaccinated, 48 currently allow exemptions for families with religious objections and 20 exempt children based on parents' personal beliefs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

A growing number of parents have opted to delay or skip vaccines because of concerns over safety. Multiple studies have found vaccines to be safe, with no link to autism or other chronic conditions. Myths about vaccines continue to circulate online, however, and are promoted by a number of celebrities.
The law was designed to add responsibility to rights. If you really don't want to have your child vaccinated in California, you must home school them. The point is that humans are social animals, and if you are going to mix with other people and you could infect them, then it is your responsibility to prevent disease as best you can so that you have nothing contagious to spread. If you can't do that--stay home!

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