ANGELES ó A Bay Area mother formed a Facebook page where
parents could arrange play dates for their children with other
vaccinated youngsters. Another mom advocates socially
isolating the unvaccinated by asking parents if their child is
inoculated before accepting a birthday invitation, or even
using the swings at the playground. And a Los Angeles mom says
she now asks about vaccine records when she buys used baby
fierce debate over childhood vaccines is prompting some
parents to take extreme measures to make sure their children
are segregated from the unvaccinated.
you canít keep your kids healthy, then whatís the
point?" said Heather Peterson, who applied to a new
preschool after learning that the second-language French and
Spanish immersion school her daughter attends had a worrisome
current measles outbreak has heightened the concern.
mother Ariel Loop took all the precautions she felt necessary
to protect her newborn son, getting shots during her pregnancy
and keeping him housebound until he was about 2 months old.
her husband waited until their son Mobius received the vaccine
for diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus before finally taking
him to Disneyland, she said.
weeks after a January visit to the theme park, a red rash
appeared on their son.
just no way," Loop said she thought. "No way."
fever hovered below 102 degrees. Loop, a nurse, gave him
Tylenol and a cool bath, but his temperature raged. So they
went to the emergency room that afternoon, calling ahead to
ensure they could bypass the waiting area.
later they received the diagnosis: measles.
of having a child contract a contagious childhood disease has
grown in recent years, prompting some parents to rethink
choices and activities that once seemed innocuous.
still scary bringing him out, but thereís only so paranoid
you can be," Loop said of her now 5-month-old son.
"What am I going to do, not take him to the market?"
mother Jocelyn Hybiske helped form a Facebook group called
"No Mumps Meet ups," where parents could easily
arrange play dates with other vaccinated children.
want to feel safe taking your kids out to play," said
Hybiske, who has since moved to Seattle and started a similar
mother Rachel Deutsch said she now asks about vaccination
before buying or accepting used baby clothing or gear from
other parents and balks at taking her infant son to events
where there could be a crowd ó though she couldnít resist
taking him recently to a new playground that opened nearby.
canít totally live in a bubble," Deutsch said. "I
donít want to be a paranoid, crazy person."
has supported pending state legislation that would restrict
vaccine exemptions to medical needs and views tougher laws as
a way to keep children out of harmís way.
Russin, a Palo Alto, Calif., mother, said sheís also jumped
aboard the movement to tighten laws on vaccine exemptions.
see this as hand in hand with raising my son," said
Russin, who spoke from the perspective of a worried parent at
the news conference introducing the proposed legal changes.
Karvunidis, a mother of three who recently moved to L.A. and
writes about feminism and social issues, urged other parents
to ask about vaccination rates before paying tuition and
agreeing to do even mundane things that might put a child at
risk, such as sharing swings, attending parties or holding
unfair, she said, for parents to be pushed into isolation
because others refuse or are slow to have their children
shouldnít be skipping birthday parties," she said.
"We shouldnít be afraid to go to school."
parents have found refuge at private institutions with
stricter vaccine policies such as Toddle Tunes, a music
enrichment program for infants and children.
Los Angeles business announced last month that only vaccinated
children, or those with medical reasons for not being
vaccinated, would be permitted in class.
feel itís our duty to protect them as much as we can,"
said Lisa Mueller, Toddle Tunes owner and chief financial
measles outbreak began, some of the youngest students stopped
coming to class. But after the policy change, parents of most
of their 700 students praised the decision, sent in
vaccination records and breathed "huge sighs of
relief," Mueller said.
mother, Beth Wegner, joined dozens of others in expressing
thanks on the companyís Facebook page: "Toddle Tunes is
now officially the first public place I feel safe bringing my
family," she wrote.
and her husband had delayed some shots during their sonís
first year because of health reasons.
months of keeping him mostly at home and avoiding mommy-and-me
groups and even trips to the grocery store, Wegner enrolled
him in Toddle Tunes, thankful for a clean space, a strict sick
policy and a program that made his face light up with
a "happy medium" between sealing kids in their rooms
and endangering them, said David Ziring, a Toddle Tunes parent
and associate professor of pediatrics at UCLAís David Geffen
School of Medicine.
and his wife pulled their daughter out of a preschool after
another child contracted whooping cough. They plan to keep her
in a private school program where vaccines are required.
And as a
pediatric gastroenterologist, Ziring sometimes wears a mask
when seeing an unvaccinated patient. The next child he sees
could be a transplant patient who may not have been able to
stay up to date on vaccines. Plus, his 2-year-old is not yet
old enough to be fully immunized.
time he walks into a room with an unvaccinated child, Ziring
says, his responsibility to protect his daughter comes to
not necessarily about personal liberty as much as it is about