It’s no secret that the U.S.’s pharmaceutical market is growing rapidly as scientists continue to use their medical knowledge to develop cutting-edge treatment and prevention methods. In fact, the United States alone holds over 45% of the global pharmaceutical market. But according to USA Today, officials in Arizona have canceled what many believe to be an essential program across the state — a program intended to educate parents about the importance of vaccines.
This motion comes after state officials received numerous complaints from parents who have chosen not to immunize their children, most of whom are school-aged.
It takes anywhere from 10 to 15 years to develop a medicine or vaccine, and these types of immunizations have proven to be essential in preventing some of the most dangerous contagious diseases, like measles, whooping cough, and mumps. But regardless of the fact that vaccines prevent more than 2.5 million unnecessary deaths every year, the pilot course, which would have been available online, has been shut down.
This course was modeled after similar programs in Michigan and Oregon that were created as a result of the rising number of children who are missing crucial immunizations for school. This would have been an optional course, but parents against vaccinations were ‘worried the course was going to become mandatory.’ They brought their complaints to the Governor’s Regulatory Review Council, a six-member group appointed by Gov. Doug Ducey that’s intended to review regulations to ensure that they don’t negatively affect the public.
The council received emails from about 120 individuals and families, 20 of which said they don’t vaccinate their children, according to records. As a response, the state canceled the program in its entirety.
“We’re so sorry we couldn’t make a go of this — strong forces against us,” said Arizona Department of Health Services immunization manager Brenda Jones in an email to a school official in Glendale announcing the cancelation, adding that there was ‘a lot of political and anti-vax feedback.’
The brain makes the most connections among its cells before your child turns 10, and despite the groundbreaking research and medical technology that have proven the validity and safety of vaccines, there are still some people — primarily parents — that have a ‘personal belief against vaccines’ or believe they are linked to autism. One set of parents commented that the course was trying to “create an emotional response, creating fear and pressure in order to compel parents to vaccinate.”
On the other hand, those who side with science say that anti-vaxxers don’t understand the risks of these diseases, simply because they’ve never actually seen them.
“All we wanted to do with the pilot was say, ‘We’re not going to make it harder, we just want to make sure you have accurate information when you make that decision,'” said Rebecca Sunenshine, medical director for disease control for the Maricopa County Department of Public Health. “A lot of people don’t see these vaccine-preventable diseases anymore. There’s this sense that they are no big deal because they haven’t seen them. They don’t realize that, before we had the measles vaccine in the 1960s, we lost about 500 kids per year (in the U.S.) who died of measles.”
While these two groups may have the same underlying goals — to keep children safe — anti-vax parents don’t quite seem to understand that vaccines are exponentially safer than the diseases they help to prevent.
“I’m not sure why providing ‘information’ is seen as a negative thing. Providing information doesn’t take away a parent’s choice to seek an exemption,” said Republican state Rep. Heather Carter, who helped to create the program. “This is a major concern. Vaccines have saved lives for generations. We all want to live in safe and healthy communities.”