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Some Madison East Side Parents Are Mighty Selfish, Misinformed About Immunizations

February 8, 2015


I am embarrassed by a fair number of parents in my neighborhood area.  There is no more honest way I can phrase it.

The entire area that surrounds where I live on the Madison isthmus and the near east side is very progressive and liberal when it comes to our beliefs and voting patterns.  It is a very educated area and one that has for the most part a most comfortable level of incomes.  On the average day it is a perfect place to reside.

So I was stunned to read in the Sunday Wisconsin State Journal concerning the immunization rates in Madison schools and especially in my local school just a few blocks away a most disturbing statistic.  More to the point I feel embarrassed to live in an area where so many parents fail our unwritten social contract when it comes to immunizations.  Furthermore it would be interesting, based on the reasons why these parents reject immunizations for their children, to know how they feel about corporate bosses who under the same reasoning deny contraception coverage to women under health insurance polices.   After all if one is going to use the flimsy excuse of philosophical exemptions for one it needs to be allowed for the other.

While I understand that an exemption can offer several reasons as to why the vaccine has not been administered let me be clear about this–none of the reasons hold water when science and medical knowledge is added to the proof as to why immunizations are needed and beneficial.

I have been consistent about the need for parents to immunize their children.  I think science and sound medicine should be the guide that dictates policy when it comes to what for me is one of the most appalling national discussion we have had in many a year.    Should we immunize kids is a settled matter.  Yes, settled!

So when otherwise sound-minded liberals make news about my neighborhood I can only admit I am embarrassed.

Marquette Elementary School on Madison’s Near East Side has the highest exemption rate in the Madison School District, the data for this school year show. Thirty students, or 13.8 percent of the school’s 218 students, have personal conviction waivers.

At Marquette, nine children are missing one vaccine, 16 are missing some vaccines and five are missing all vaccines. The most common vaccine missing is varicella, or chicken pox, followed by hepatitis B and MMR, or measles, mumps and rubella.

At nearby Lapham Elementary School, 8.1 percent of students have personal conviction waivers. At Lowell Elementary School, it’s 7.8 percent.

Sarah Coyle’s 12-year-old son hasn’t received any vaccines. He’s a sixth-grader at O’Keeffe Middle School, where he is among 7.1 percent of students with personal conviction waivers.

Coyle, a state government policy analyst, said she researched the effectiveness and potential side effects of each vaccine and decided the risks outweighed the chances her son would become seriously ill from any of the diseases.

She said she and her son eat organic food, use alternative medicine techniques such as homeopathy and otherwise keep their immune systems strong. Her son has rarely been ill.

“Even if my son were to get measles, mumps or whooping cough, I am confident he is healthy enough that he would get through it rather easily,” Coyle said.

There is simply no other way to sum up this than to label it for what it is.  SELFISH and MISINFORMED.

There are some young people based on age or other medical reasons who can not be immunized.  That has long been the case.  So when the Coyle types of the area decide they hold their own medical degree and start making choices that impact all the rest of the population in ways that are not consistent with sound science they need to be called out for it.  It is unreasonable for people like her to place others families and children at risk.   But that is exactly what she does.

I can just hear the collective anger from the near East Side about the Hobby Lobby court decision where a personal philosophical difference allowed for what most us–myself included–thought to be a slap in the face to women’s health care decisions.    But now for some East Side parents a philosophical exemption that flies in the face of proven medicine is to be accepted by the rest of us?

I do not care if someone eats organic radishes or subscribes to the raw food movement so as not to use any fossil fuels.  None of that type of activity impacts the rest of us.  But when we are talking about the impact of deadly and dreaded diseases that have a proven method of being curtailed and some then decide they are so superior in their thinking to reject such preventive measures means the rest of us get to weigh in.

I am simply embarrassed by the article in the paper that did not reflect very well upon the neighborhood which I love so much.

  1. Heath Docharty permalink
    May 14, 2018 2:39 PM

    There are a variety of defensible positions – Coyle’s is defensible and well-thought-through as well. I would guess she is considering the data over a much longer, analysable span of time, as well as taking into account the more central role infection itself plays in vitalizing and protecting the human species over time. If you study the entirety of the 20th century, there are several long gap times when vaccines weren’t being administered where people remained fit as a fiddle, with no higher incident in viral diseases than during the other spans. I’ll give you the data on that, but first this:

  2. Sketchpad permalink
    February 18, 2015 7:20 PM

    Very well put. If we decided, in the face of overwhelming medical evidence, that for some so-called “philosophical” reason that my child should not be immunized, who do you think would be the first to file a lawsuit when a polio pandemic claims their child? We abide a number of social contracts, not taking things that aren’t ours, traffic laws, etc., so on what bizarre deluded basis do some parents decline to have their children and by extension my child protected…Small Pox, Polio, and other maladies were wiped from the face of the planet until some did not get the immunization.

    There was a comment on the article’s webpage the mentioned that the fact that Coyle did not immunize her 12year old was a matter for the protective services of children should he take Ill. Praying over the sick child with organic foods and homeopathy is a pretty limp defense when it comes to the medical evidence. It is even more grievious if it is in fact the case that Coyle works for our Wisconsin Department of HEALTH?! Hmmm, I suppose we ought to have a state POLICY ANALYST look at that one! But likely goes the way of ‘punting’ on evolution, denying climate change, and poo pooing the health risks of silica dust.

    Press on in the face of incontrovertable science, throw on some garlic, exercise a little voodoo and all will be well! Sincerely, I hope that the young Coyle is not harmed by the mother’s flawed understanding of reality and inept judgment. Really, is it true that Ms. Coyle works for our Health Department?! Quick get me some essential oils and hang garlic over the doors and windows!

  3. tom permalink
    February 8, 2015 7:31 PM

    See, its not just republicans that don’t believe in science. BTW homeopathy has no value as far as the science goes.

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