Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
What does Personal Exemption mean?
Oklahoma is one of 18 states in the U.S. that allows parents to enroll their children in public schools without giving them the vaccinations required by the state health department. A statute under the state’s immunization law gives parents the ability to opt out of vaccinating their children for medical, religious, philosophical or personal reasons.
Why is it important for children to be vaccinated?
It is always better to prevent a disease than to treat it after it occurs.
That is particularly true in the case of vaccinations. Before we had them, many children died from diseases that vaccinations now prevent. According to the Centers for Disease Control, vaccines have saved millions of lives and have been responsible for the complete eradication of one of the deadliest diseases in history – smallpox. Because of vaccinations, we can now prevent diseases such as Polio, Measles, Diphtheria, whooping cough, Rubella, Mumps and Tetanus.
Are vaccinations required in Oklahoma?
The State of Oklahoma requires vaccinations for all children before they can be admitted to public school. However, state law allows parents to opt out of this requirement if they cite medical reasons, religious reasons, philosophical reasons or personal preference.
Vaccinate Oklahoma opposes the personal exemption clause in our vaccination law. We believe all children must be vaccinated to ensure communities are protected from outbreaks. Oklahoma is one of only 18 states that allow personal exemptions, and we believe public health is at risk because of that.
Can everyone be vaccinated?
Vaccinations may not be recommended in cases involving pregnancy, illness or certain medical conditions or compromised immune systems. It is important to talk with a doctor to determine if or when certain vaccinations are safe for individuals.
Because of the fact that some people have health conditions that prevent them from being vaccinated, it is even more important for the larger population to be protected. By facilitating “herd immunity,” we can protect everyone in a community, even those who are not healthy enough to be vaccinated themselves.
Are vaccinations 100 percent effective?
Vaccinations are not always effective. Only 80 to 90 percent of the vaccinations we give fully protect patients. That means that 10 to 20 percent of the children who receive vaccinations are only partially immunized, and to some degree, still potentially vulnerable.
That is important to keep in mind because Oklahoma parents can opt out of vaccinating their children. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that only 90 percent of Oklahoma kindergarteners have been fully immunized against dangerous and potentially deadly diseases such as Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Diphtheria and Tetanus.
That leaves about 10 percent of Oklahoma’s student population unprotected. Add another 10 to 20 percent of students who are only partially protected by ineffective vaccine doses. As a result, up to 30 percent of the children in our student population are vulnerable. Under those circumstances, outbreaks are likely. Everyone who can be vaccinated should be vaccinated to protect themselves and those whose immunity may be compromised.
Do MMR vaccinations cause autism?
No. Questions associated with the Mumps, Measles and Rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism grew from the 1998 publication of a research paper in The Lancet, a British-based medical journal. The article linked autism to the vaccine.
The study was later discredited by publications citing study author Andrew Wakefield had multiple undeclared conflicts of interest, had manipulated evidence and had broken other ethical codes. The medical journal eventually retracted the article, and The Lancet’s editor-in-chief described it as “utterly false” and said that the journal had been “deceived.”
In response to Wakefield’s claims, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Institute of Medicine of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, conducted subsequent reviews, and all came to the same conclusion. There is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism.
Wakefield was ultimately cited for serious professional misconduct and lost certification to practice medicine. Wakefield’s claims were widely reported by mainstream media. Even though his claims have been invalidated, they continue to be cited by opponents of immunization. Physicians, medical journals, and editors have described Wakefield’s actions as fraudulent and tied them to subsequent epidemics and deaths. Some consider the vaccine–autism connection as perhaps the most damaging medical hoax of the last 100 years.
What are the risks of MMR vaccinations?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control considers the MMR vaccine a very safe and effective way to prevent Measles, Mumps and Rubella. However, like any medicine, it can have side effects. Most people who get the MMR vaccine do not have any serious problems.
Common side of the MMR vaccine include:
- Sore arm from the shot.
- Mild rash.
- Temporary pain and stiffness of the joints, mostly in teenage or adult women who did not already have immunity to the Rubella component of the vaccine.
- MMR vaccine has been linked with a very small risk of febrile seizures, which are typically caused by fever. Febrile seizures following MMR are rare, last 15 to 20 minutes and are not associated with any long-term effects.
- Some people may experience swelling in the cheeks or neck. On rare occasions, the MMR vaccine can cause a temporary low platelet count, which can cause a bleeding disorder that usually goes away without treatment and is not life threatening.
- In extremely rarely cases, a person may have a serious allergic reaction to the MMR vaccine. Anyone who has ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to the antibiotic neomycin, or any other component of the MMR vaccine, should not get the vaccine.
More information is available at: www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/vaccines/mmr-vaccine.html
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