You don’t have to look far to find a good reason to oppose a Mississippi House Bill 130, which would allow parents a “conscientious objector” exemption to state laws that require a series of vaccinations for infants and children.
Last week, California public health officials said people, especially young children, who have not been vaccinated for measles should not visit Disneyland.
The popular theme park has been identified as the source of a measles outbreak in December in which at least 70 people contracted the disease.
Health officials are not sure who brought measles to Disneyland, but they know why it spread: Because 9 percent of children in the state haven’t received the measles vaccine.
Mississippi, meanwhile, has the country’s highest percentage of properly vaccinated children, well above 99 percent. And there are virtually no measles cases in the state. Why in the world would we want to mess with something that’s worked?
To be fair, there is no doubt about the sincerity of the parents who object to required vaccinations. Many are still concerned that vaccines can damage the bodies of their children, leading to the development of conditions like autism.
However, the public health benefits of vaccines for measles and other diseases vastly outweigh these fears.
Measles cases are still common in some parts of the world, but vaccinations have eliminated the disease in the United States.
The Legislature, which seems determined to protect individual rights, may well approve a conscientious objector vaccine exemption. If it does, it will be ignoring its duty to provide public health safeguards to the best of its ability.
This bill, however well intentioned, should end up just like the measles did: eradicated.