Childhood Disease: What IS the Role of Parents?

JUST SAYIN’-Parenting is one of the most important and rewarding jobs a person has the privilege of taking on.  Thus, the decision to become a parent should not be taken lightly.  It is our job as parents to nurture the minds and bodies of our little charges, to protect and keep them safe, to instill in them values and a set of morals, and to keep them healthy. 

I like Kaiser’s motto, “Live long and thrive!”  Yet, how can we insure this for our children if we make ill-informed choices that are critical for their well-being? 

I remember, when I was in kindergarten, having a school friend who had survived polio but had a residual limp in its aftermath.  In addition, I didn’t know during my formative years that polio had struck President Roosevelt and so many others with this crippling disease, but I do recall seeing on television the iron lungs to which many were relegated after succumbing to that dreadful ailment. 

In an effort to erase this condition, the polio vaccine was developed in the early ‘50s—first the injection and then the sugar cube.  I was given both.  Now we can safely claim that polio has virtually been eradicated from our shores.  But is that claim in jeopardy as we see increasing numbers of parents keeping their children from any and all vaccinations? 

I also remember having mumps and measles at the same time and being visited at home in my “sick bed” by our family doctor (boy, have things changed!).  Those illnesses were closely followed by a pretty severe case of measles.  Thank goodness, my constitution and medical practice were strong enough to put me on the road to recovery. 

Sadly, however, such recovery is not in the stars for far too many of our children today.  There was a time when youngsters could not enter school without proof of the required vaccinations.  Now, unfortunately, there are a wide range of exemptions—the results of which would not only endanger the unvaccinated child but others with whom such children come into contact. 

With home-schooling being all the rage, perhaps these children (whose parents choose not to inoculate them) should be taught at home! 

We are all witnesses today to what happens when children are not protected by what modern medicine has to offer.  Measles, as it turns out, is the most deadly, most contagious communicable disease that exists in our contemporary world—more so than Ebola and HIV/AIDS. 

It seems that far too many ill-informed parents have been misled by the advice of some well-meaning prominent “stars.”  In fact, the basis for their questioning of the efficacy of vaccinations against measles (and other diseases) gained its impetus from recently discredited research conducted by a British doctor who linked the onset of autism with the timing of vaccinations. 

The fact is that the appearance of symptoms for autism occurs at about the age of 3 or 4, and by pure coincidence is also the age when some childhood vaccinations are administered.  It has been scientifically proven that the two events have no connection to each other whatsoever!  Even the highly respected organization, Autism Speaks, has debunked the rumors swirling around this immunization practice and encourages vaccinations for every child! 

What right do parents have (with deliberation and forethought) to endanger the lives of their own children, let alone the lives of others?! 

There are those who complain that the Government should not interfere in their lives--in the decisions that parents alone should make.  Yet, and quite ironically, there does not seem to be the same outcry when helmets for bicyclists or seat belts or child car safety seats are required with substantial penalties for violations.  The latter are accepted safety measures, and the former ought to be as well. 

If the role of parents is to do everything possible to keep their children safe and healthy, then the use of scientifically proven and effective vaccinations must be part of the equation, must be mandatory, and must be enforced. 

For those parents, for whatever reason (faith or otherwise) who continue to resist this health measure, their choice must be honored but the consequences of that option must also include keeping their children at home—at least until the transmittable stage has generally past. 

Look at the impact that one person with measles, visiting Disneyland, has had on hundreds of people so far, affecting populations in our own country, in Mexico, and in Canada.  How far will its tentacles reach until this outbreak comes to an end? 

More than a decade ago, measles in our nation was designated as having been vanquished.  Now, with this recent onset, we are nearly back to square one.  Thank goodness for all those wise parents who have seen fit to immunize their young ones!  We must revisit and re-examine the rules and regulations regarding this issue.  We must similarly conclude that the welfare of all our children must come first.  

A disease like measles that does not exhibit symptoms for one to two weeks after exposure is a disease that is insidious, extremely contagious, and is particularly dangerous because of its potential to spread easily and quickly, to cause severe illness, and even death. 

Parents must hold themselves responsible for the well-being of their offspring and for the welfare of the community.  Yes, it does take a village to care for our own and for each other!  

Regardless, while people should be free to follow the dictates of their own consciences, they must also realize that their choices frequently have far-reaching, unintended consequences—often in spite of their well-meant reasoning.  

It must further be understood that ill-conceived decisions (that may have widespread effects) can and must bring concomitant penalties if and when those choices are likely to produce disastrous results. 

Just sayin’.


(Rosemary Jenkins is a Democratic activist and chair of the Northeast Valley Green Alliance. Jenkins has written A Quick-and-Easy Reference to Correct Grammar and Composition, Leticia in Her Wedding Dress and Other Poems, and Vignettes for Understanding Literary and Related Concepts.  She also writes for CityWatch.) 






Vol 13 Issue 11

Pub: Feb 6, 2015