Father Of Boy With Leukemia Asks School To Bar Unvaccinated Children
Rhett Krawitt is an unvaccinated child–though not because his parents have any loony beliefs about vaccination causing autism or whatever. He’s unvaccinated because he has been fighting leukemia for the past 4 1/2 years, and though doctors say he’s in remission, his immune system is still rebuilding.
Because he can’t be immunized, Rhett relies on herd immunity to protect him. Unfortunately, he also goes to school in Marin County, California, which has the Bay Area’s highest rate of “personal belief exemptions” from vaccinations. 6.45% of the children attending school there this year are not vaccinated against measles, polio, whooping cough and other communicable diseases.
His father, Carl Krawitt, is now asking school officials to do something to protect his son from disease–ban the unvaccinated children from attending school.
“It’s very emotional for me,” he said. “If you choose not to immunize your own child and your own child dies because they get measles, OK, that’s your responsibility, that’s your choice. But if your child gets sick and gets my child sick and my child dies, then … your action has harmed my child.”
Krawitt is taking action of his own. His son attends Reed Elementary in Tiburon, a school with a 7 percent personal belief exemption rate. (The statewide average is 2.5 percent). Krawitt had previously worked with the school nurse to make sure that all the children in his son’s class were fully vaccinated. He said the school was very helpful and accommodating.
Now Krawitt and his wife, Jodi, have emailed the district’s superintendent, requesting that the district “require immunization as a condition of attendance, with the only exception being those who cannot medically be vaccinated.”
Carl Krawitt provided me with Superintendent Steven Herzog’s response. Herzog didn’t directly address their query, instead saying: “We are monitoring the situation closely and will take whatever actions necessary to ensure the safety of our students.”
Although there is currently an outbreak of measles in California, there have not yet been any cases or suspected cases in Marin County. County health officer Matt Willis says that if there were any cases, this is a step they might consider–but by the time it’s identified it could be too late for children like Rhett, with compromised immune systems.
As Rhett’s immune system is compromised from years of cancer and chemo, a disease like the measles would affect him much worse than it would other children. It’s kids like this that we need to preserve herd immunity for. Anti-vaxxers both take advantage of herd immunity and compromise it–and when you think about how that affects children like Rhett, it is hard to not see this as an incredibly cruel and selfish act. Not to mention an incredibly stupid one, given that all the anti-vaccination hysteria is pure bullshit.
Carl Krawitt is right. I’m sorry, but if you don’t want to immunize your kids, you have no business sending them to school with other children. If it’s that important to you? Suck it up and home school them. Can’t home school them? Then get them vaccinated and find another wacky conspiracy theory to believe in that doesn’t hurt or kill anyone.
Quite frankly, I think it should be against the law, period, to not vaccinate your kids if they don’t have compromised immune systems, but since we can’t do that, we can at least not have them running around our public schools posing a threat. [NPR]