It is the policy of the UUCSV to require immunizations against communicable diseases, particularly for its children who are old enough for vaccinations. While we respect individual rights, and parental rights, it is vital to remember that we are part of a larger church community. That community includes people who are more susceptible to the effects of communicable diseases, such as infants who are too young for immunizations, pregnant women, elderly adults, and people undergoing medical treatment and have a compromised immune system. UUCSV does not want to expose its members, friends, and visitors to such a risk.
Those who are not immunized will be asked to avoid exposing other members of the community.
– Approved by the Board of Trustees May 17, 2015
This policy is posted in every classroom within UUCSV, as well as the social room, the sanctuary, and the choir room. Parents and guardians will be asked to affirm their children’s immunization status on RGL registration each year. The policy will also be included on the UUCSV website and on printed materials related to RGL, and any other vehicle that the Board of Trustees or the staff deems helpful.
Immunization of children and adults against communicable diseases has reduced the morbidity and mortality of the population throughout the world1. The access to immunizations in the US has been funded in large part by government with guidelines provided by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC)2. Fears about the link between vaccines and autism, in particular, have been debunked and disproved by numerous scientific studies.
As a member of community, the choice to immunize or not, must be viewed as more than an individual one. A primary purpose of immunization is to achieve sufficient numbers of immunized person to bar the spread of the disease. This is called “herd immunity.” The decision to not immunize increases the potential for exposure to communicable diseases within a population3. This exposure may occur as the result of an un-immunized person’s travels or exposure to a carrier. In many cases a non-immunized person may be a carrier of a disease and communicable prior to the onset of significant symptoms. Exposure can occur both in the US and abroad as diseases can be prevented by vaccines are found throughout the world, including Europe. It is important to remember that the potential to seed a community with a communicable disease occurs with the presence of one infected individual.
The CDC offers clear advice regarding risk and responsibilities for families who choose not to immunize4. These include recommendations that parents isolate their child from others, including family members, and especially infants and people with weakened immune systems. The CDC notes that vaccine-preventable diseases can be very dangerous to infants who are too young to be fully vaccinated, or children who are not vaccinated because of their medical conditions. The challenge for many settings is that the status of the person at risk and the potential carrier may not be known to each other.
For Unitarian Universalists, several of the Principles and Purposes5 undergird this policy:
First Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
Second Principle: Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
Sixth Principle: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
Seventh Principle: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
In addition, we teach that our sources of wisdom includes the guidance of reason and the results of science6.
3 CDC. What would happen if we stopped vaccinations? http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/whatifstop.htm