If I haven’t convinced everyone yet, I don’t know how.

I have written on this before.

Vaccination keeps kids alive. Kids who could die dead as door nails from preventable diseases.

Vaccination has very few side effects.

All kids should get them (except for specific and quite rare medical counter indications endorsed by a physician).

So now I am finding out a little more of the story.

Previously, an alleged outbreak of measles was traced to non-vaccination.

Now we know that non-vaccination can happen because–children are going to non-public schools.

The Amish are sending their kids to their own schools.

Me, I started my education in a very non-public “Yeshivah,” a Jewish religious school.

And I certainly have nothing against the Amish. I got to know and work with (and even love) both old-order and new-order Mennonites when I lived and worked for several years in central Kansas.

The Amish have no religious prohibition against vaccination, and they have increased vaccination rates with appropriate folks telling them about this.

So where has the problem been?

It sounds to me, more clearly, like a defect in the government. My question is, does the government make any effort at all to know where children who are not going to public schools even are?

When I was very little, my parents informed me that if I were seen on the street (or even, they alleged, in my own backyard) by the local police when I ought to be in school, I would be “picked up” and brought into school for truancy.

I loved school (maybe even more than playing) so this was never a danger. It was Father-Of-Blessed-Memory who told me they could force me to go to public school. He apparently had to do this for a bit of time some years earlier in the city of Boston. He described it as a fate somewhat like going to jail.

When I lived in Kansas and tried to find a woman with a critical, life-threatening blood test report, her county officials told me that most people in that region did not even have street addresses. They sent a police officer to her house who told her to call her doctor, namely me, right away. (She was fine and did well.)

When I lived in Canada, a Canadian census worker came to my apartment and, among other things, asked me if I had any school age children and what public or alternative school I sent them to. I could even put a dollar in a special fund for Jewish alternative schools, if I so desired.

Now — in the interests of public health — we need to locate some kids who are most likely attending Amish schools.

We are sending visiting nurses door-to door. May or may not be the most efficient way to get the job done.

But what about the millions of kids in the fifty states who are not in the public school system?

We probably know who and where they are. At least, some in some states — maybe the department of education knows?

Kids will not only die if they are not vaccinated. They will infect others and cause outbreaks.

Although I love our government and am grateful for all of the things it CAN do for us, it sounds as if this part of it is out of control, if it cannot manage some interagency communication to save life and health.

This is clearly the real problem.

Religious freedom is not the primary problem here. We do a pretty good — although perhaps sometimes imperfect — job of preserving that. As shown in my earlier article linked above, many who request a religious exemption from vaccination might not even be religious.

They use our precious freedoms for selfish reasons.

The most important word in the article linked to above is “authorities.” The NBC story I quoted doesn’t say which.

Cynics may say that ALL government agencies are inept. I don’t think that’s fair. After all, we are a nation of over a third of a billion people – we can’t expect perfection.

In the Amish community, it may actually be more efficient to deal through religious authorities. Common sense, reason and even Machiavelli and Sun Tzu knew that to get results, you work with the system that works – not the one that people dodge.

I am not the expert in this field. Like you – I am simply a potential victim.

Cultural competence is extremely important, as we have always acknowledged our country is a melting pot.

Recently – as shown by Census figures – the Hispanic population has become more dominant. The wise providers of government services, health and education have all adapted by incorporating bilingual and cultural adaptations.

I – for one – had a smattering of Spanish language training in my youthful education, but when I immigrated to California (about 20 years ago) I took private lessons. I studied more on my own to deal in medical and technical communications in Spanish.

I KNOW that I live in southern California, and that means dealing with some sort of Mexican and/or Hispanic culture. Being a realist, I adapted to this.

But language wasn’t enough. Although I was raised in the Jewish traditions, I knew that the patients I would see in the public mental health clinics were going to be predominantly Catholic.

And that they had been indoctrinated against Jews.

Me, I dealt with this essentially by learning enough Spanish to function as needed, and fielding jokes about how I am a red-headed lady from Boston who grew up reading the Old Testament in Hebrew, but who was not yet born when Christ was crucified so clearly had nothing to do with that one.

And when I dealt with the Mennonites in Wichita, KS during my residency, I adapted to them, also. They had severe restrictions that included everything from operating modern machinery (including automobiles) to modes of clothing (some did not allow buttons or snaps – only laces and hooks).

And when you get to the human body and medicine – OY! Talk about adaptation. America has rarely faced the need for a rich multicultural competence. Rarely, at least since the wave of immigrants that included my Grandmother-Of-Blessed-Memory.

Time, once again, America, to do a better job of living up to our ideals, especially when it could save American lives.

We are all together in this situation. We must do what we have to do to deal with it – politics, religion or other considerations aside.

Author's Bio: 

Works at Ridgecrest Rural Health Center and Estelle Toby Goldstein, MD (The Renegade Doctor)
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Studied BA Biology cum laude at Boston University
Past: Beaver Country Day School

Lives in Ridgecrest, California
From Chelsea, Massachusetts · Moved to Ridgecrest, California