Tuesday, February 24, 2015
From Jacoba Urist, writing for the Atlantic:
The debates over vaccinations are often cast as arguments over the integrity of science. But they can just as easily be understood as conversations about power, writes Eula Biss, a senior lecturer at Northwestern University, in her book, On Immunity: An Inoculation. As it stands, all 50 states require specific vaccines for school-aged children, although each grants exemptions for students unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons. The power struggle—pitting parents against parents—arises in the 19 states that allow families to opt out of vaccination requirements by claiming a "philosophical exemption," whether based on personal, moral, or religious beliefs.
Last month, however, one private Montessori school in Traverse City, Michigan—The Children’s House, which serves infants through children in the eighth grade—changed the power dynamic. As one parent there described it, the school wrested control from a vocal minority of people in their community who don’t believe in vaccinating their children and gave the majority who do their voice back. By revising its admissions policy and refusing to accept new students whose parents opt them out for personal beliefs, The Children’s House illustrates how schools are becoming ground zero for the anti-vaccine dispute. It also serves as an example of how educators—not state legislators or health officials—may be the ones who ultimately resolve the public controversy over immunization requirements.
Read more here.