Commentary: Vaccines can help keep rising health-care costs down

By Leigh Dakin

Rep. Leigh Dakin/photo by permission

Many issues that come before the State House require balancing personal freedoms against the public good. In areas that involve health, the public good includes who will pay the cost of medical treatment. Currently, the state and federal governments are the payers of last resort, but the current system is unsustainable.

An article titled “Who Will Have Health Insurance in the Future? An Updated Projection,” in the April issue of The Annals of Family Medicine, presents a startling conclusion. With current trends, the average family will spend half their income on health care by 2021 (just nine years from now) and all their income on health care by 2033. Obviously, something must be done to rein in health-care costs.

One measure currently before the State House is the elimination of the philosophical exemption that allows children to enter school without the required vaccinations. This bill would not alter the religious exemption for vaccinations. My experience as a school nurse has demonstrated to me that children entering elementary school need to receive the medical vaccinations required by the Vermont Department of Health.

Allowing children into the schools without them puts other children at risk to catch diseases that are both debilitating and otherwise preventable. The outbreak of pertussis, otherwise known as whooping cough, in Vermont this year may very well have been caused by unvaccinated students attending our public schools. Numerous studies establish that these vaccinations are safe, inexpensive and effective.

Leigh Dakin represents Andover, Baltimore, Chester and North Springfield in the Vermont State House. She may be reached at home on the weekends at 802-875-3456 or by email at ldakin@leg.state.vt. us.


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