ABC News Medical Expert: Vaccinations Should Be Required to Attend Public School

On This Week With George Stephanopoulos, ABC News’ Chief Health and Medical Expert Richard Besser said that the growing number of parents refusing to vaccinate their children was forming a “ticking time bomb,” and that vaccinations should be a requirement to attend public schools.

“If you look at the impacts in public health, there has been nothing that has equalled that of vaccinations,” Besser said, in a segment citing outbreaks of measles in California. “The problem we have is that the success of vaccination programs means that no one is seeing these diseases, and so they don’t understand that can happen if we move back.”

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Besser said that the overall rate of non-vaccinated children, about 4.5%, was not statistically humongous, but that the refusal tended to happen in particular (and usually affluent) communities, where the rate can grow to as much as 20%. “That’s a ticking time bomb,” he said. “I think if you want to send your kid to public school, there should be no ifs, ands, or buts about it.”

“We’re not going to be able to force people to stick needles into their kids arms,” Michael Specter, author of Denialism, said, though he agreed overall with Besser’s assessment of the problem. “We need to do a much better and more powerful job of educating [parents]. They think about risk in the wrong way. They think about the risk of something happening [if they vaccinate], they don’t think about the risk if they don’t vaccinate, and those risks are great and getting greater.”

Watch the clip below, via ABC News:

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