Impacts of vaccinations in school

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Impacts of vaccinations in school

Nurse Katie's vaccination schedule next to her favorite stethoscope.

Nurse Katie's vaccination schedule next to her favorite stethoscope.

Nurse Katie's vaccination schedule next to her favorite stethoscope.

Nurse Katie's vaccination schedule next to her favorite stethoscope.

Michael Pettus, J1 reporter

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Vaccinations are a controversial topic. Even though the general consensus is that vaccines are beneficial, there are many that believe otherwise due to beliefs based on false scientific studies, as well as religious reasons. These people are known as anti-vaxxers, and are believed to be responsible for a large portion of the recent measles outbreaks in the United States.

Measles is just one of several diseases, such as rubella and mumps, that can be treated with vaccines. In the year 2000, measles was declared eliminated in the United States, however, this year the measles have returned in full force. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been over 800 measles cases across the United States, making 2019 the highest year for measles infections since 1994. Measles outbreaks have gotten so bad in some areas of the United States, that state of emergencies had to be declared, such as the one in Rockland County, New York.

Freedom High School nurse, Katie Karamanis, had this to say when I asked how important she feels vaccines are. “I feel vaccines are very important. They have proven to nearly eradicate certain communicable diseases that otherwise would still be prevalent in our country.” She further elaborated on that response with, “I also believe that parents should do their own research, and determine if they feel that vaccinations fit their families needs. But I feel like a lot of research needs to be done to come to that determination.”

While there have never been any cases of un-vaccinated students causing issues at Freedom, I decided to ask Nurse Katie what type of procedure would be taken if something such as a measles outbreak were to ever occur in Prince William County (PWC). This was her response, “Those children who are not vaccinated when the disease is in their area, or in their school, the schools, the county has the right to say you cannot come to this school because you’re now at risk. So we have the right to do that, and we should do that to protect the safety of the children that are not vaccinated. We should also do that to prevent the further spread of the disease.”

I also took the time to interview a student from Freedom High School on the subject of vaccines. Jason Rodriguez, a senior, said, “Scary, but good for you depending on how the vaccines are used. Vaccines help with a lot of problems in the world like HIV and AIDS, so I believe that vaccines are important for our community.”

Veronica Byrd, a Computer Information System Teacher at Freedom, was given the same question, and responded with the following, “It is very important. The vaccine protects the students as well as the general public around them.” She then went on to further elaborate on the negative impacts of not receiving vaccinations. “At older ages, these diseases have much greater consequences, and cause more problems, including death. The increase of hospitalization costs is also a consideration.”

While there have yet to be any outbreaks of diseases in PWC, or even Virginia for that matter, the looming threat of diseases like measles infecting residents of PWC is still very much alive. As outbreaks of diseases treatable by vaccines continue to rise (according to the CDC), cautions should always be taken to ensure that you, and the people you love are protected. With that in mind, stay safe and stay vaccinated.

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