We are left scratching our heads at this piece of information: According to a federal study last year, Washington state has the highest number of kindergartners who have been voluntarily exempted from vaccines.
Their parents cite fear of potential side effects or philosophical reasons, but the facts aren't on their side.
Until last year, our state's exemption policy was the most lenient in the nation. Now parents are at least required to show that they have consulted with a doctor before they can get an exemption.
Here's another little something to consider: We are having a whooping cough epidemic in this state. The number of confirmed cases this year is 10 times higher than it was last year at this time. And state officials expect that only one in five cases is actually reported.
Health officials describe the outbreak as "staggering."
Luckily no deaths have been reported -- yet.
But it is a dangerous disease, and like so many preventable diseases, it should be respected.
Before the vaccine was available in 1940, whooping cough killed 5,000-10,000 Americans each year. We're certain parents in the late 1940s and '50s were grateful for the science that nearly eradicated the disease.
Perhaps we have been so long without serious outbreaks, the younger generation of parents don't realize what an epidemic can do to their unvaccinated children. That was a problem for their grandparents -- or great grandparents.
It's likely a correlation exists between our state's high exemption rate (nearly 6 percent) and the current outbreak.
Also, there likely is a link between state's budget cuts and the rise in the disease. Most of the state's preventative care programs have been crippled or eliminated completely.
Some people that would have gotten the vaccine but can't afford it have had to go without.
To the Legislature: Thank you for tightening up the exemption law, but we lament the cuts in preventative care funding that endangers those who would otherwise get the vaccines.
To the parents: If you have opted out of vaccines or are thinking about it, please consider your decision carefully.