January 28, 2015
California Dad Asks His Son's School To Ban Unvaccinated Kids For His Son's Health

A father in California is asking his son's elementary school to ban all unvaccinated kids from the school, for his own son's health, NPR is reporting.

Rhett Krawitt, 6, has battled leukemia for the past four and a half years. Although he's currently in remission, the incessant rounds of chemotherapy have left his immune system ravaged. Unlike other kids, he can't be vaccinated; with his immune system compromised, a vaccine - such as the measles vaccine - would likely kill him.

Rhett also goes to school in California's Marin County, which has one of the highest rates of unvaccinated kids in the country, according to KQED (San Francisco). Some 6.45 percent of the kids in Marin County's public schools have what's called a "Personal Belief Exemption" (PBE), that is, they're exempt from the school's requirements to be be vaccinated because their parents oppose vaccines on religious, moral, or personal grounds (California's statewide average is around 2.5 percent). That means that Rhett could be going to school with any number of unvaccinated kids carrying potentially fatal (for Rhett) diseases, like measles.

Rhett's father, Carl, finds the situation heartbreaking and terrifying.

"It's very emotional for me. If you choose not to immunize your own child and your own child dies because they get measles, OK, that's your responsibility, that's your choice. But if your child gets sick and gets my child sick and my child dies, then... your action has harmed my child."
And he's had enough. Carl and his wife, Jodi, have e-mailed Tiburon School District's superintendent, asking them remove the PBE and only allow vaccinated kids, or kids with a medical exemption, such as Rhett, to attend Rhett's school.

Carl reports that school officials in the past have been mostly accommodating - for example, when they asked that only vaccinated kids be allowed in Rhett's kindergarten class. But their request to have all kids at Reed Elementary vaccinated was met with a rather tepid response from Superintendent Steven Herzog.

"We are monitoring the situation closely and will take whatever actions necessary to ensure the safety of our students."
Although there are no known cases of kids infected with measles - or any other communicable disease that can be prevented with vaccinations - at Rhett's school, the threat is very real. Already, California - and at least seven other states - are dealing with an estimated 100 cases of measles, all traceable to an outbreak at nearby Disneyland.

Measles, once considered all but eradicated in the United States as recently as 2000, is making a comeback, thanks largely to the growing number of parents who decline to vaccinate their children.

Do you think public schools should require all kids in attendance to be vaccinated, regardless of their parents' beliefs? Sound off in the Comments below.

[Image courtesy of: KQED]