I have had the privilege of working on behalf of the health of the citizens of Washington, D.C. in various capacities for over 40 years. During that time I was honored to serve as your Commissioner of Public Health in the 1980’s and most recently as a co-founder of the Black Coalition Against COVID.
My experiences have taught me that the protection and the preservation of human life is a sacred and inescapable individual, family, and community-wide shared responsibility. Certainly we can all agree that protecting and advancing the health of our precious children is at the top of any list of priorities in this regard.
Every parent and child caregiver should know that as we continue to experience the tragic health and social consequences associated with the COVID pandemic, immunizing children to protect them from preventable childhood illness is now more important than ever.
I am especially troubled that the pandemic caused our children to miss extended periods of time attending in-person schooling. As a result, children in general, and children of color in particular, suffered setbacks in educational achievement and socialization.
Please be aware that children in Washington, DC will not be allowed back to school without proof that their traditional childhood vaccination status is up to date for their age requirements. We cannot afford any child to miss even one more day of in person schooling.
The science is clear: routine childhood vaccinations are extraordinarily effective and have been proven over many years to be extremely safe. Because of advances in medical science, children can now be safely protected against more diseases than ever before. In fact, some diseases that once injured or killed thousands of children have been eliminated completely, and others are close to extinction. Unfortunately, because enough children are not current with their recommended childhood vaccines, we are experiencing a worrisome resurgence of diseases such as measles and whooping cough, which threaten your child’s health and those around them.
I am aware of the unfortunate efforts by the spreaders of misinformation who continue to try and mislead parents that routine child vaccinations are unsafe and can lead to conditions such as autism. Thankfully, the scientific evidence studied over many years has debunked these false and dangerous claims. There is no question that vaccinations are safe and very effective. Please do not let these dangerous people cause our children to suffer unnecessarily from preventable illnesses.
Today is the day to make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician or a vaccine administration site that you can find at dchealth.dc.gov. Be sure not only to get your child vaccinated but also that you have documentation that the vaccines have been administered. We don’t want any child to miss even one day of school this year.
Let’s all do our part to protect our children. Ensuring that we have 100% compliance with childhood vaccinations is one of the best ways to accomplish this goal! Let’s work together as parents, caregivers and a loving community to challenge each other to ensure that we reach our goal. Our children’s futures are depending on us!
Reed Tuckson M.D. is DC’s Former Commissioner Of Public Health. He can be found at firstname.lastname@example.org.