Immunization Fact Sheet
The terms immunization and vaccine/vaccination are interchangeable. Through immunization/vaccination, healthy children are exposed to small, often inactive pieces of a germ so that their immune systems can learn to fight that germ if/when they are ever exposed to it.
Examples of Vaccine-preventable illnesses include influenza, or the "flu" (over 100 children died from influenza-related causes last flu season in the US), measles (In 2019 thus far, outbreaks of measles were reported in 31 states including Idaho, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and California), rubella (“German measles”), pertussis ("whooping cough") and several kinds of meningitis. Children who are not immunized for any reason are at greater risk of severe consequences from vaccine-preventable illnesses.
Medical exemption for immunizations: some individuals cannot receive immunizations or vaccines because their immune systems do not mount a protective response to immunizations, including very young infants, individuals with cancer, organ transplants or conditions affecting their immune systems. These people depend upon others (“herd immunity”) to be protected from vaccine-preventable illnesses.
Nonmedical (i.e., “personal” or “religious” exemptions: The American Academy of Pediatrics states that nonmedical exemptions to school-required immunizations are inappropriate for individual, public health, and ethical reasons and advocates for their elimination.
An immunocompromised person refers to a person who is unable to respond typically to exposures to germs or vaccines. This includes pregnant women and the children they are expecting, infants whose immune systems have not developed the ability to respond to dangerous germs, people with certain chronic illnesses that require them to take drugs that suppress their immune response like people with cancer, organ transplants, or autoimmune diseases (for example, Rheumatoid Arthritis or Multiple Sclerosis).
Children at greatest risk for vaccine-preventable illness: Infants are all born with immune systems that are not fully developed. Though infants and toddlers are exposed to many germs, there are dangerous germs that increase the risk of severe illness, lasting consequences of illness (for example, hearing impairment from meningitis, developmental delay from exposure to measles or Rubella, blood infections from chicken pox), and even death.
Children in Montessori education are exposed frequently to each other and the risk of germ transmission is higher by virtue of the child-centered, sensory exploration, and close contact with classmates and teachers that is encouraged and valued in a Montessori classroom.
For more information: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/growing/index.html
Prepared by MCS Parents:
Michelle Vo, MD, FAAP
Beth Knackstedt, MD, FAAP
Katie Lappe, MD
Rita Sharshiner, MD