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Double Falsehood: TDaP and Middle School

you do not have to vax to attend school

I saw this on my way home from the supermarket yesterday.  It may be difficult to read in this picture (I wanted to edit it, but I didn’t get a chance), but this sign reads, “TDaP Required, Whooping Cough, No Shot, No School!”  It is the marquee in front of Griffith Middle School here in Downey and it reflects the new state “requirement” that middle school (and maybe high school?  I’m not sure about that) students receive the TDaP vaccination before enrolling.

This is a falsehood, and if you have a child, you should know your rights.

The first– and most important– falsehood is that this shot is required.  This is not true.  Showing proof of this immunization is part of the CA school enrollment process, but in California, we parents have rights.  In our state we can request a waiver to decline vaccination based on three catagories:  personal, religious, or medical.  Request a waiver from your child’s school, fill it out, and you may enroll your child.  They will keep it on file and if an outbreak of any disease for which your child is not vaccinated appears in your child’s school, they are required by law to notify you immediately.

The second falsehood relates to the shot itself.  The sign leads parents to believe that this is just for Whooping Cough (aka Pertussis, or acellular Pertussis– the “aP” in the abbreviation), but this shot is actually a triple vaccine.  Now some parents might think this is great.  Get vaccinated against all three with only the pain of one needle.  But other parents might be concerned about injecting their child with three different toxins at the same time.

And they are toxins, people.  They are not medicines, or vitamins, they are harmful diseases in pared-down form.  They are not natural and they can harm your child.  They do harm hundreds of children every year  in varying degrees.

The “T” refers to Tetnus, or Lockjaw, a disease that enters the body usually in the case of a puncture wound from a rusty nail or something of the sort.  It can be administered after-the-fact and is not necessary as a preventative medicine.  So in other words, you can wait until AFTER your child steps on a rusty nail to worry about Lockjaw.  The “D” refers to Diptheria, which is pretty much unheard of in the United States anymore.  Whooping Cough, however is the one single vaccine in the whole schedule that actually is out there in reasonable commonality.  Apparently the vaccine isn’t very successful at preventing this one.

We have autonomy over our bodies.

The bottom line is that someone is doing a really good job at spreading lies that are lining the pockets of pharmaceutical companies. But not a lot of parents realize that in California, we have rights.  You do not have to do anything to your body or to your child’s body that you don’t feel comfortable with.  And at least in our state, they are not going to take away your right to public education because of your choice not to vaccinate.



One Comments to “Double Falsehood: TDaP and Middle School”

  1. I didn’t really want to comment on this because I don’t think anything gets accomplished by trying to get the last word. I did however, want to make some clarifications.

    Actually getting tetanus is a big frickin deal. The survival rates for tetanus are around 50%. Waiting until you actually GET stuck with a rusty nail means getting not just the Tetanus immunization, but also the Immune globulin. The tetanus immunization takes 2-3 months for full effect, meaning if you wait until you step on a rusty nail, it’s too late. You need the immune globulin, which hurts more, is more dangerous and it more expensive (plus it comes with a whole series, it’s not a once and one). Tetanus is thankfully pretty uncommon these days, but of those who die from it, most are either elderly or neonates, who get it from their unvaccinated mothers. Not that kids are having babies, but it’s one more thing to think about as these unvaccinated kids grow up. Neonatal tetanus has HORRIBLE survival rates.

    As for pertussis, the vaccine is, of course, imperfect. It wears off. The reason we (medical folks and public health departments) want to vaccinate your teenagers is not because pertussis is a danger to them. It’s not. Nor is it a danger to you. Who it is a danger to are our babies and our old people. Your child or teenager or you can get pertussis and have nothing more than a little cold and cough. But you can give it to those who are not vaccinated because they are too sick or too little. And they get very very sick.

    Herd immunity after all, is what is made the average life expectancy closer to 80, not 55. That is not only because people are necessarily living longer; it’s also because the very young are not dying of preventable diseases. I don’t get the pertussis vaccine because I am afraid I might get whooping cough. The worst that would happen to me is a bad cough. I get the vaccine because I don’t want to give it to a little baby or a cancer patient at work. Vaccinations are not always or only for the patient, they are for the community as well. Herd immunity helps everyone, even those who don’t get vaccinated. We should all be thankful so many of these diseases are vaccinated against.

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