Five Things to Know About the Reporting on California’s New Vaccine Law

California has a new vaccine law, and based on the media coverage, a lot of folks still don’t understand what it does or how to report about vaccines and the anti-vaccine movement…

“Other opponents say the law tries to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.”

Elizabeth Aguilera on Five Things to Know About California’s New Vaccine Law

As is typically the case, the problem is false balance.

Five Things to Know About the Reporting on California’s New Vaccine Law

Before we talk about what California’s new vaccine law does, let’s remind folks about what it doesn’t do.

What does the new law do?

It doesn’t eliminate all exemptions, stop doctors from writing medical exemptions, require all exemptions to be reviewed, or revoke all medical exemptions.

It simply helps stop providers who are writing inappropriate vaccine exemptions – or at least keep them from writing more than four inappropriate vaccine exemptions.

How did we get here?

It is no surprise how California ended up passing two vaccine laws in four years.

The state has a problem with clusters of unvaccinated kids. Unfortunately, the first vaccine law, SB277, didn’t fix the issue, as some providers found that they could get around it by writing unnecessary medical exemptions.

Some even found that they could make money writing these exemptions!

The vast majority of kids are vaccinated, so what’s the big deal?

While it is great if a state has high immunization rates, that doesn’t mean as much if half the kids in your child’s school are unvaccinated.

This is known as a breakdown of herd immunity.

It puts kids at risk to get a vaccine-preventable disease, especially if they have a true medical exemption.

Are vaccines dangerous, as some critics say?

Vaccines are safe, with few risks.

What is dangerous, are the folks who push misinformation about vaccines that scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids. Why don’t we hear more stories about them in the media?

So is this fight over now?

While this should be a time when everyone starts to learn about why vaccines are safe and necessary, unfortunately, some are doubling down and still don’t want to vaccinate and protect their kids.

Did the opposition write this article in the Valley News?
Did “the opposition” write this article in the Valley News?

That might change if instead of simply printing what the opposition says in the spirit of being balanced, the media ever actually fact checks what the opponents to SB 276 and other vaccine laws have been doing and saying…

More On Reporting About Vaccines

Why Are States Eliminating Religious Exemptions for Immunizations?

While all states continue to have medical exemptions to getting vaccinated, more and more are eliminating their religious exemptions.

New York is one of the states that is eliminating their religious exemptions for vaccines.
New York is one of the states that is eliminating their religious exemptions for vaccines.

Do you find that surprising?

Why Are States Eliminating Religious Exemptions for Immunizations?

If you do, it might change your mind once you realize that no major religion is actually against immunizations.

“One is morally free to use the vaccine regardless of its historical association with abortion. The reason is that the risk to public health, if one chooses not to vaccinate, outweighs the legitimate concern about the origins of the vaccine. This is especially important for parents, who have a moral obligation to protect the life and health of their children and those around them.”

The National Catholic Bioethics Center FAQ on the Use of Vaccines

In fact, nearly all religions actively support getting kids vaccinated and protected. That makes sense, as vaccines are safe, with few risks, and unvaccinated kids are at increased risk to get a vaccine-preventable disease and put other kids at risk too.

So why do folks get religious exemptions?

Connecticut is another state that is considering eliminating religious exemptions for vaccines.
Connecticut is another state that is considering eliminating religious exemptions for vaccines.

More and more, we are seeing parents abuse religious exemptions, using them as a personal belief exemption because they just don’t want to vaccinate their kids.

More on Religious Exemptions for Immunizations

About That Johns Hopkins Protocol of Immunocompromised Kids…

We know that immunocompromised kids are especially at risk from vaccine preventable diseases, both because they are immunocompromised and because they often can’t get vaccinated or fully vaccinated.

That why herd immunity is important and there are immunization protocols for immunocompromised kids.

About That Johns Hopkins Protocol of Immunocompromised Kids…

One of the most commonly followed protocols, 2013 IDSA Clinical Practice Guideline for Vaccination of the Immunocompromised Host, was recently published by the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

“Healthy immunocompetent individuals who live in a household with immunocompromised patients should receive the following live vaccines based on the CDC annual schedule: combined measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccines; rotavirus vaccine in infants aged 2–7 months; varicella vaccine (VAR); and zoster vaccine (ZOS). Also, these individuals can safely receive the following vaccines for travel: yellow fever vaccine and oral typhoid vaccine.”

2013 IDSA Clinical Practice Guideline for Vaccination of the Immunocompromised Host

There are also guidelines from the Medical Advisory Committee of the Immune Deficiency Foundation, the ACIP, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

All of the protocols support kids getting vaccinated and protected, unless they have a medical exemption, and that their contacts get vaccinated and protected.

Is it any wonder that some parents are scared to vaccinate their kids after listening to these folks speak at these rallies?

That’s why it is surprising to hear what Robert F. Kennedy, Jr had to say about the protocol he reviewed from Johns Hopkins.

“So I went to the Johns Hopkins protocols for immunocompromised children. And I read it. And when I read it, it’s a long, dense document, but there’s no place in that entire document that said immunocompromised children should be kept away from unvaccinated children. Do you know what there is? Ah! It says that the real danger to immunocompromised children is vaccinated children, because, whatever you do, don’t let your immunocompromised child near a child who has recently, meaning six weeks, had a chickenpox vaccine. Don’t let your child anywhere near a child who has had a polio vaccine. Or a pertussis vaccine. And that’s the worst one. Because the child with pertussis has no knowledge that he has pertussis. He is an asymptomatic carrier. But he can pass it to your child. And he is more likely to pass it to your child if he is vaccinated!”

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr

Where is this Johns Hopkins protocol that Kennedy read?

Johns Hopkins Medicine, which includes the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System went out of their way to correct this anti-vaccine misinformation.
Johns Hopkins Medicine, which includes the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System went out of their way to correct this anti-vaccine misinformation.

He can’t be referring to the old version of the Johns Hopkins Hospital Patient Information Guide for the Immunocompromised Patient, can he? The revised Johns Hopkins Hospital Patient Information Guide no longer routinely warns about contact with children who were recently vaccinated.

Although anyone with a severe immunodeficiency should avoid those who have recently received the oral polio vaccine, that vaccine hasn’t been used in the United States since 2000. Also, you don’t have to avoid folks who have received the chickenpox vaccine, unless they get a rash and it is uncovered. And you certainly don’t have to avoid anyone who has received the pertussis vaccine, as it is not a live vaccine.

The Johns Hopkins Hospital Patient Information Guide does warn those who are immunocompromised to “Tell friends and family who are sick not to visit.”

Who’s more likely to get sick with things like measles, chickenpox, and pertussis?

Folks who are unvaccinated!

“The threat of pertussis and other childhood communicable diseases to children with immunodeficiency is particularly alarming. The increased risk of disease in the pediatric population, in part because of increasing rates of vaccine refusal and in some circumstances more rapid loss of immunity, increases potential exposure of immunodeficient children. The immunosuppressed subject is particularly at risk in crowded living conditions because of the spread of these diseases by aerosol droplets or through the oral-fecal route.”

Medical Advisory Committee of the Immune Deficiency Foundation on Recommendations for live viral and bacterial vaccines in immunodeficient patients and their close contacts

Has Kennedy read the protocols from the Immune Deficiency Foundation? They do warn of the risk from intentionally unvaccinated kids!

Has he read the Johns Hopkins Hospital Patient Information Guide, which was updated at least two years ago?

Have you, especially if you are thinking about skipping or delaying your child’s vaccines?

More on the Johns Hopkins Protocol of Immunocompromised Kids…

Where Are the Autistic Kids Who Aren’t Vaccinated?

Thanks to the anti-vaccine movement, it isn’t hard to find autistic kids who aren’t vaccinated.

Wait, what?

Where Are the Autistic Kids Who Aren’t Vaccinated?

For one thing, folks in the anti-vaccine movement do a good job scaring parents, which means that there are simply more unvaccinated kids around.

And because vaccines aren’t associated with autism, these unvaccinated kids can and do develop autism.

How do we know?

Parents in anti-vaccine groups and forums often ask…

Do you know anyone who is autistic and unvaccinated?

And invariably, the answer they get is that yes, many of them either have or know of autistic kids who are unvaccinated.

Hopefully that will eventually lead them all to understand that vaccines are not associated with autism, so that they don’t continue to leave their kids unvaccinated and at risk to get a vaccine-preventable disease.

More on Autistic Kids Who Are Unvaccinated