We may not have much in Mississippi that we can take pride in when we compare ourselves to the rest of the U.S. We are used to scoring at or near the bottom on all sorts of measures of positive indicators (e.g., education) and at or near the top on many of the bad ones (e.g., poverty, infant mortality, obesity). But we do have something in which we should take pride and be prepared to defend against those who would threaten it.
According to Newsweek,
Today, Mississippi has the highest rate of vaccination in the U.S., with 99.9 percent of kindergartners receiving their MMR.Despite the many other problems with our healthcare system, this is great news. Unfortunately, there are plenty of misinformed Mississippians who would like us to give up this accomplishment in deference to their religious beliefs.
The same Newsweek article mentions that a woman in our state, Lindey Magee, has written bills aimed at giving parents the right to opt out of vaccinating their children on religious grounds.
Like many parents reluctant to immunize their children, Magee trusts her intuition (and information she finds on the Internet) over the advice of pediatricians. “I saw the Disney movie Bears, and if God gave bears instincts to survive their harsh reality, then human beings certainly have the instinct to protect children,” she says. “Mumps, measles and rubella do not scare me,” she adds, despite having heard that measles kills about 450 people each day around the world.This is what we're up against.
Vaccination is a vital public safety issue. Granting religious exemptions not only places the unvaccinated children at risk; it endangers the rest of us.
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