To vaccinate or not to vaccinate is a debate that’s taking up a lot of bandwidth these days.

Jacoba Urist writes at The Atlantic:

How Schools Are Dealing With Anti-Vaccine Parents

The debates over vaccinations are often cast as arguments over the integrity of science. But they can just as easily be understood as conversations about power, writes Eula Biss, a senior lecturer at Northwestern University, in her book, On Immunity: An Inoculation. As it stands, all 50 states require specific vaccines for school-aged children, although each grants exemptions for students unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons. The power struggle—pitting parents against parents—arises in the 19 states that allow families to opt out of vaccination requirements by claiming a “philosophical exemption,” whether based on personal, moral, or religious beliefs.

Last month, however, one private Montessori school in Traverse City, Michigan—The Children’s House, which serves infants through children in the eighth grade—changed the power dynamic. As one parent there described it, the school wrested control from a vocal minority of people in their community who don’t believe in vaccinating their children and gave the majority who do their voice back. By revising its admissions policy and refusing to accept new students whose parents opt them out for personal beliefs, The Children’s House illustrates how schools are becoming ground zero for the anti-vaccine dispute. It also serves as an example of how educators—not state legislators or health officials—may be the ones who ultimately resolve the public controversy over immunization requirements.

Several weeks after the school year started last fall, and months before the recent measles outbreak, Jill Vollbrecht, an endocrinologist and Children’s House parent of three children ages 4 through 9, read a disturbing report by a local news outlet, the Traverse Ticker. She discovered that between 2008 and 2014, waiver rates—the percentage of those declining vaccinations for both medical and personal reasons—had climbed from 6 percent to 11 percent in Grand Traverse County, which encompasses the school. Moreover, it was now as high as 19 percent in nearby Leelanau County. Even more alarming to her at the time, Michigan health records showed that waiver rates had spiked among local Montessori students compared with other public and private schools within the state. The report showed that nearly a fourth—23 percent—of families at The Children’s House were opting their kids out of vaccinations. “I’m not a family practitioner or an infectious disease specialist, but these numbers set of alarm bells for me,” Vollbrecht said. “All physicians have the common goal of wanting to keep our kids and our communities safe, and we have a core understanding about science and herd immunity.”