This is an idea that is spreading like, oh, the measles. But maybe in this case, that's a good thing, though it's certainly controversial.
In the wake of a New York suburb banning children who have not been vaccinated from public places during a recent measles outbreak, at least one New Jersey city is considering prohibiting unvaccinated children from all youth sports and other programs. At least 13 people had been diagnosed with measles in New Jersey as of April 8, according to news reports.
“My personal position is that everyone should be vaccinated, with no religious exemptions. Medical exemptions only,” Keith Kaplan, a councilman in Teaneck, N.J., who along with other council members was seeking a recommendation from the city’s health officer, told NJ.com.
“Vaccines are one of the most effective tools we have to control the spread of measles — in addition to ensuring that we stay home when we’re sick,” according to a statement issued by the New Jersey Department of Health from the state’s epidemiologist, Dr. Tina Tan.“Local jurisdictions know their communities best, and we support them taking steps they feel they need to take to protect the public.”
The Teaneck health officer is expected to make a recommendation regarding youth sports participation by unvaccinated children May 7.
As Sports Destination Management reported earlier this month, some parents might consider outdoor venues less of a threat for infection than indoor venues, but exposing potentially sick children is a risky proposition. As a result, event owners need to be aware of the ramifications. And while the areas affected by bans or potential bans may be small, there is certainly the potential for other communities to use this tactic.
The latest outbreak of measles has spread mostly among school-age children whose parents declined to get them vaccinated, citing philosophical or religious beliefs, or concerns the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine could cause autism.
A large study published in mid-April in the Annals of Internal Medicine concluded there is “no increased risk for autism” after receiving the MMR shot.
“Debunking a myth is tricky,” Sean T. O’Leary, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics and an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado at Denver, told The New York Times. “It can be hard for parents to sort out what’s real and what’s not.”