By Karen Zhang
(Printed version on April 2015 issue of Crazy English Speaker. Stay tuned!)
Do you still remember when you were vaccinated when you were a baby? Chances are you have no clue about it except you may have bawled during inoculation. Then one day, when you’re old enough and you check your birth certificate, you learn back then you had received a range of shots to prevent tetanus, polio, meningitis and measles. Aren’t you thankful that you’ve lived in a good health? I certainly am.
In China, together with several other immunization shots, measles vaccination is mandatory. So it is in the United States. However, American parents seem to be more doubtful about the effect of vaccination than the Chinese. The recent Disneyland measles outbreak has spoken for itself. A report found most of the victims who had infected measles were in fact unvaccinated.
I was shocked to learn that some American parents chose to forgo vaccination given to their underage children based on their religious and unscientific concerns. Some of them fear immunization will be detrimental to their infants’ fledgling immune system. And some others, like the religious Amish people, view immunization as putting faith in man over their god.
The opposition, however, blames the anti-vaccination parents for creating a public health risk. After all, the virus can live on a surface or hang in the air for as long as two hours after an infected person has coughed or sneezed. Even though the U.S. health authorities require infants at 12 months old to receive the first dose of measles vaccine, there are still many a disobeyer across the country.
After the measles outbreak, amid heated debate, law makers finally begin to make changes about vaccination. For example, in California where the outbreak started, new legislation is proposed to outlaw waivers that allow parents to exempt their children from receiving basic vaccinations for religious or personal reasons. In some states, kindergartens and lower-grades schools even ban kids who have not received measles vaccination from classes.
Don’t these measures come too late? The Disneyland outbreak has already spread beyond the theme parks from the onset of 59 confirmed cases to over 100 cases around the country. But as a saying goes, it’s better late than never. American parents should really think twice when making decision about vaccination for their kids. After all, it concerns more than the health of an individual but of the public.