California Lutheran University students should not be allowed to claim personal belief and religious exemption from vaccinations. The risk this places on other students is too great, especially on such a small campus, to make room for any reasons beyond a medical necessity to avoid vaccinations.
The risks of choosing to avoid vaccinations are becoming more apparent than ever. More than 750 people have been diagnosed with measles in the United States this past year, 42 of which were in California, according to ABC News. This is the highest number of reported cases nationwide in more than 20 years.
All incoming undergraduate students are required to complete forms that provide proof of vaccination before attending Cal Lutheran, according to the Health Services webpage. This includes two doses of MMR (mumps, measles, and rubella), one dose of Td/Tdap (tetanus/diphtheria with or without pertussis), three doses of Hepatitis B and one dose of Meningitis (MCV4).
However, while the Cal Lutheran Health Services webpage claims “a good vaccination rate,” this doesn’t account for religious and personal exemptions. State vaccination requirements are upheld at public universities, but private schools have a certain amount of freedom to choose their requirements. If an incoming student is still a minor, his or her guardian can claim exemption based on religious beliefs.
“We do allow waivers,” said Health Services Assistant Sara McNeil. “Students need to come in and go over the paperwork with the provider, and they can sign a waiver that says they don’t want vaccines.”
The measles virus is highly contagious. Before the widespread introduction of the measles vaccination in 1967, 75 percent of people were infected on first exposure, according to research from the University of Chicago. The CDC estimated that 3.5 million cases were diagnosed per year and hundreds of deaths.
I can respect the religious views of others. But it is unacceptable for these views to put the lives of others at risk. Vaccinations exist for a reason and unless they have an allergy or medical condition, students planning to attend a university should be held to this standard.