Vaccinations prevent diseases. Vaccinations are very safe. In fact, your child is much more likely to die driving to school than from a vaccine. Yes, I know about the studies which claim an association between childhood vaccination and autism. These studies have been discredited by every reputable medical organization. Vaccines have saved countless lives.

Why then do some parents refuse vaccinations? These are reasonable and concerned individuals, who feel that vaccines increase risks for autism and other unknown diseases. It is a free country right? Why then shouldn’t these parents have the right to refuse vaccinations and send their kids to public school?

Well if their children ,who let’s say are otherwise healthy, become infected with pertussis, they might do well (although they are at undoubtedly greater risk of becoming sick and even dying, this risk is relatively low) If they happen to come into contact with kids who for no fault of their own have cancer, diabetes or a host of other diseases that weaken the immune system, these kids will be much more likely to get very sick and die. So what right do parents of unvaccinated children have to increase the risks of dying for children with weakened immune systems?

Herd immunity, which basically means that a large majority of a population is immune to a certainĀ  infection, is truly a great thing. Yet if the herd immunity decreases enough, the infection will spread rapidly.To be more precise if less than 92% of the population is not vaccinated against a particular infection, then the risks for the entire population of becoming sick with the infection increase.

In certain areas of our country, herd immunity is decreasing because of an antivaccine movement. Good science is thrown away for pseudoscientific theories, unproven and dangerous, which convince good parents to forgo one of the greatest advances in medicine-that is vaccines.

California, the nation’s most populous state, is poised to enact a law which would require all children attending public schools to be vaccinated, unless medically contraindicated. Religious and personal objections would no longer work. Parents, who still refuse vaccines for their children, could still send their kids to private school or choose to homeschool their children.

I believe this is the right thing to do. As a doctor, my goal is to save lives by using treatments which have been shown to be effective. To do otherwise would be to bow to poor science and risk innocent lives.