Immunizations Continue Amid Stricter State Exemption Laws

Aug 13, 2013

Parents brought their kids to Cineport 10 Monday, not to see a summer blockbuster, but to receive the required shots to start school.

Here in the lobby is Debby Hanus. She coordinates immunizations for the New Mexico Department of Health in Las Cruces.

“We give a lot of immunizations now…a lot are preventable…each one of these will prevent disease and possibly prevent death.

Most of the parents who come to this theater want their kids to be vaccinated…. but there are some who don’t want their kids vaccinated. And for that there’s an approval process that’s harder this year than in year’s past.

The New Mexico department of health changed the law in July 2012.

“You can no longer be a contentious objector…have to have a religious or medical reason…so the waivers should have been done in May.”

Hanus tells me about a parent who came here Friday.

“She said I’ve filled out waivers for 20 years…I said there’s nothing I can do about that.”

One hundred forty-two students in Dona Ana County (126 within Las Cruces city limits) were granted waivers in 2012. That’s with the stricter law in effect half of that year.

KRWG News spoke with Ellen Williams, director of health services at Las Cruces public schools. She said there was some confusion when changes came mid-way through last year.

“I think communication was a big problem…and so we had one set of parents who were given immunizations based on one set of rules and other parents that were made to comply with different rules…we certainly understand that. We were confused as well.”

Williams says she has to balance medical fact – that vaccinations are not known to cause autism – with concerns from parents.

“Well, there’s no scientific evidence that points to the fact that immunizations cause autism…. I’m sensitive to the fact that they are looking for a reason that this may have occurred.”

At the same time, she has to follow the law.

Hanus with the New Mexico Department of Health says the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks…of which conventional medicine says autism is not.

“It’s the law. It’s the requirement. Just immunize your kids.”