7-Year-Old Cancer Patient Makes Adorable Argument for Vaccines
Rhett Krawitt, 7, is fighting to raise vaccination rates.
By GILLIAN MOHNEY
February 12, 2015, 5:25 PM
• 5 min read
-- A young boy who fought through leukemia is now fighting to keep unvaccinated children out of school.
After spending over three years going through chemotherapy, Rhett Krawitt, 7, remains unprotected against certain illnesses, including the measles. So the boy and his family this week asked his local school district to support new legislation that would abolish personal-belief exemptions, which allow families to opt out of required vaccinations, according to ABC station KGO-TV in San Francisco.
"For 3 1/2 Years I took chemo to get the bad guys out," Rhett said in his speech that his father, Carl Krawitt, helped him write. "Now I can say gone with the cancer."
To speak to the Reed Union School District, the boy stood on a chair to reach the microphone.
"Soon we will say Gone with the Measles," he said. "My name is Rhett and I give a damn!"
Rhett and his Corte Madera, California, family asked the Reed Union School District to support state legislation introduced by state senator and pediatrician Dr. Richard Pan that would abolish personal-belief exemptions that allow students to attend school without being fully vaccinated. For the current school year, 5.89 percent of kindergartners in Marin County have a personal-belief exemption.
The family first made headlines last month after NPR reported they asked their local school districts to ban unvaccinated children from the school after a measles outbreak started in Southern California. Rhett attends school in Marin County in California, where just over 84 percent of kindergartners are fully vaccinated, according to the California Department of Public Health.
"The importance of vaccinations is about the expectant mothers and babies under the age one and hundreds of children who are at risk for getting these disease that don’t even need to be here," Carl Krawitt told ABC News. "It’s really around making sure that we have public health policy that protects everyone in our community."
The multistate outbreak of measles that started in Disneyland in December has infected at least 121 people, with 99 of those infections in California, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
After the family’s plea, the school district voted to support legislation introduced by Pan.
Carl Krawitt also told ABC News that son Rhett will meet with his doctors to determine whether his immune system is healthy enough to get a measles vaccination.
Krawitt said the importance of vaccinations was underscored again Wednesday after the Contra Costa Public Health Department alerted Bay Area California residents that a passenger on the Bay Area Rapid Transport (BART) public transportation system has been infected with measles, meaning other passengers could have been exposed to the contagious virus.
"I’m not going to take BART on Saturday and I really wanted to," Krawitt said. "There are certain things we will and won’t do" to protect Rhett.