The anti-vax movement is now one of the top threats to global health as outbreaks of preventable diseases are increasing around the world, including in California, according to the World Health Organization.
According to the Student Health Center on the school’s website, “Pierce College does not require vaccinations to enroll; however, some programs may require certain immunizations.”
This is a problem with a simple fix.
Pierce should not let students enroll in classes without proof of immunizations unless they have a medical reason that prevents them from it.
In late 2014, 110 cases of measles broke out in California, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). This outbreak, although seemingly small, was a significant increase for a preventable disease.
Of those 110 cases, 49 of them were unvaccinated people, 12 were under-vaccinated, and two were known to be vaccinated.
The outbreak spread to affect students at California State University, Channel Islands and California State University, Los Angeles.
Following this, the CSUs and UCs started to require students to show proof of vaccination against, at minimum, measles and rubella. Some of them require even more for students to enroll.
The Los Angeles Community College District has yet to follow with its own vaccination policy.
With some people choosing not to vaccinate, the herd immunity that protects the people who can’t vaccinate is being weakened. Herd immunity stops diseases from spreading by limiting the number of people it could affect, which means fewer people would be able to carry it.
This also could benefit students just by making them check their vaccination history. The number of unvaccinated children is rising in the United States, according to a study from the CDC.
According to the same CDC report, the number of kids who were not vaccinated in 2001 was 0.3 percent. In 2015, the number grew to 1.3 percent.
While that may seem like a small number, that is more than one person per 100 people. Pierce currently has over 17,000 enrolled students. That would average to 221 people, which is more than enough to spread a deadly disease around the campus.
It would also be easy to say the report is focused on the youth who aren’t students here now, but they will be in here the future, and the college should take the steps to protect the students before a problem occurs.
An argument against requiring them is it could interfere with religious freedom. The counter to that is these diseases are too dangerous to risk an outbreak. There are many private universities who don’t require them, so students against vaccines could go to those.
Pierce should implement this by making new students show their vaccination history before they begin to enroll in classes. Current students should have until the drop date to show their vaccination history.
Since the Student Health Center already offers affordable vaccines to registered students, everyone who needs them would have access. For students with a tight budget, the college could help cover the cost.
According to the CDC, the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination protects people for life, so students wouldn’t have to worry about keeping up with it after the first time.
The rise of the anti-vax movement is causing deaths in the United States. Between 50,000 to 90,000 adults die every year from preventable diseases, according to the Alliance for Aging Research.
Even one death from a disease we can prevent is too many.
Pierce should not wait for it to cause problems on campus because the college owes its students safety from all forms of danger. Vaccines need to be required to enroll in classes at Pierce and should be enforced in other community colleges around the state of California.