Vaccination debates reach Meridian

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Tanner Whiftord said that he is more protective over his girlfriend’s son than he is over his own body.

By Lauren Shields
The Meridian Times

As with many play areas, the Meridian Mall play area in Okemos, Michigan, hosts many parents and their children as they crawl and climb on the built-in play equipment that the mall provides. In such places, there is the possibility that germs can be exchanged between the children as they bounce from one activity to the next. It was a similar instance, but on a much larger scale, that caused the measles outbreak at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, in January.

The outbreak reached seven other states by Feb. 9, causing California lawmakers to put forth new legislation requiring that all children have their vaccinations if attending school. Christopher Alspaugh of Meridian Township, 27, father of a 2-year-old daughter, one of the many children in the Meridian Mall play area, said that people should have the freedom of choice when it comes to making decisions for their children, but should also take into consideration the children of others.

“I feel like people have a right to choose what they feel is best for their kids,” said Alspaugh,  “but I also feel like public schools should regulate and only let kids in that have had their vaccinations because of the danger to other people. That is what the government is for: to protect us.”

Watching her 2-year-old daughter in the play area, Paige Fleming, 24, said that vaccinations are more harm than they are good.

“It is something that they guilt you into doing at the hospital right after you have your baby and you are exhausted,” said Fleming. “If you think about how much money (the hospitals) are making from (the vaccinations), and they just keep making more and more,  making you feel like you need to have the latest and greatest one. I just don’t think (the hospitals) have it all figured out, and you are putting that into little kids. It is kind of scary.”

According to, there are five main reasons for which children should be vaccinated. These five reasons are as follows: immunizations can save a child’s life, vaccination is very safe and effective, immunization protectsothers that we care about, immunizations can save a family time and money and immunization protects future generations.

“Some diseases that once injured or killed thousands of children, have been eliminated completely and others are close to extinction– primarily due to safe and effective vaccines,” according to “ Some vaccine-preventable diseases can result in prolonged disabilities and can take a financial toll because of lost time at work, medical bills or long-term disability care. In contrast, getting vaccinated against these diseases is a good investment and usually covered by insurance.”

IMG_2128According to Okemos, Michigan, Rite Aid pharmacy manager Rachel Topping, her location alone provided as many as 1,300 flu vaccinations that season, but she estimated that with the other locations in the area, there were a total of 5,000 vaccinations.

“The last couple of years the number of vaccinations have been a little lower than normal due to the fact that we hadn’t experienced a large flu scare, until now that is,” said Topping. “I am a firm believer in getting flu vaccinations every year myself, and believe that all children in the U.S. should also receive the measles vaccination as well. (The new legislation) is something that the schools can do to help save the lives of children if they enforce it.”

Father figure to his girlfriend’s 2-year-old son, pipe-layer Tanner Whitford, 21, said that some vaccines, including measles, aren’t as important for adults as they are for children. He continued that flu vaccines, however, are unnecessary for all ages.

“I haven’t been vaccinated for measles and I’m still fine,” said Whitford, “but I do think it is good to have kids protected from some of the major diseases, such as measles.

“As far as flu vaccines go, I am not a huge supporter of that. I have never been vaccinated for that and I have never caught a major flu growing up. I just don’t think that it is necessary. I have heard of people getting the flu from the vaccination and if I am going to get the flu, I will be fine and I will get over it.”

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