Why immunizations matter for school attendance: Three reasons to maintain vaccination standards
Updated: Feb 9
Public health depends on public participation, including personal choices for wellness that also affect our society. From vaccinating throughout the first year of life to preparing for school attendance, every child who can be protected from preventable childhood illnesses should be.
Recent efforts to eliminate education requirements for parents choosing to exempt their children for non-medical reasons not only put our students at risk but our society.
The facts are clear: vaccinations prevent illnesses ranging from COVID-19 to diseases hard-fought for decades. Immunization rates correlate with improved life expectancy, saving countless lives over the past century.
Here are three reasons to maintain vaccination standards related to public school attendance:
Vaccinations protect more than just our students within the school community: Protecting public safety is about more than just personal health. Vaccination guidelines for school attendance protect children, teachers and the elderly. Safety and freedom from exposure to disease are also reasonable expectations for children attending school.
Vaccinations also protect the most vulnerable in our broader community: The decision to vaccinate also helps protect the most vulnerable in our society, including newborns too young to be vaccinated and the elderly, who are more susceptible to illness, and immunocompromised individuals who cannot be vaccinated. Vaccinating to achieve herd immunity helps protect babies in the first six months of life, as well as individuals with medical vaccine exemptions. The ongoing COVID situation reminds us of the overall importance of health, with its direct impact on our economic and social infrastructure.
Vaccination appointments are also a check-in point: Appointments made specifically to get a vaccine for school attendance may be the only medical oversight for some children. Assessing wellness, identifying developmental delays and checking for signs of abuse may also happen during these scheduled visits. If children are not seen in a pediatrician’s office for school attendance, other health problems will go untreated.
Please be an advocate for vaccines in your community and within your local school groups. Find more information about how to stand up for vaccination rights at https://www.okhealthyfamily.org/get-involved. Parents who choose not to vaccinate their children put their own children and ours at risk. You can help be a voice for these kids.
About Wanda Martin
Wanda is a wife and mother of three from McAlester, OK. She started her career as a LPN in 2000. In 2013, she graduated with her nurse practitioner degree in family practice from the University of South Alabama. She has since worked in pediatrics, labor and delivery, and community health.
Photo credit: Heather Scott at Lamon Photography