Instead, we have just been seeing more and more cases of measles.
The VACCINES Act
Well, we might finally be getting a new Federal vaccine law, but it isn’t the kind of law that will force people to get vaccinated that anti-vaccine folks have been warning us about.
Instead, the Vaccine Awareness Campaign to Champion Immunization Nationally and Enhance Safety (VACCINES) Act, which was recently introduced by Representative Kim Schrier (D-Wash.) will simply help to increase public awareness of the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.
“Vaccines were one of the greatest medical accomplishments of the 20th century and have been proven safe and effective at preventing diseases that once killed or greatly harmed people around the world.
As a pediatrician, I understand that parents want to do what they think is best for their children and some do not vaccinate because of unfounded fears. We are now seeing outbreaks of diseases like measles, which was considered eliminated 19 years ago, in part because of an anti-vaccine campaigns around the country. This bill will make sure that parents have access to facts about vaccines, so they can make an informed decision.”
Rep. Kim Schrier
The VACCINES Act will:
provide for a national system for surveillance of vaccine rates
Why Should Medical Exemptions Be Based on CDC Contraindications?
As many people know though, some people have been taking advantage of the fact that medical exemptions weren’t clearly defined in California’s vaccine law.
Are there just a few doctors taking advantage of the California law?
“But at 105 schools in the state, 10% or more of kindergartners had a medical exemption in the school year that ended last month, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of state data.”
Pushback against immunization laws leaves some California schools vulnerable to outbreaks
Is 10% a lot?
In one recent report, Vaccination Coverage for Selected Vaccines, Exemption Rates, and Provisional Enrollment Among Children in Kindergarten — United States, 2016–17 School Year, the median rate of medical exemptions in the US was just 0.2%, with a range of <0.1 to 1.5%.
In West Virginia and Mississippi, states that don’t allow non-medical exemptions and where criteria for medical exemptions are fairly strict, the rates were 0.1 and 0.3% respectively.
So yes, 10% is an awful lot and that’s a good sign that it is more than just a few doctors taking advantage of the law.
“If a child has a medical exemption to immunization, a physician licensed to practice medicine in New York State must certify that the immunization is detrimental to the child’s health. The medical exemption should specify which immunization is detrimental to the child’s health, provide information as to why the immunization is contraindicated based on current accepted medical practice, and specify the length of time the immunization is medically contraindicated, if known.”
Dear Colleague letter regarding guidelines for use of immunization exemptions
Why do most other states have so few medical exemptions?
Mostly because there are very few true medical reasons to skip or delay a child’s vaccines!
They include, but aren’t limited to, the contraindications and precautions listed in the package insert for each vaccine (the contraindications and warnings sections…) and by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
They don’t include many other things that are “incorrectly perceived as contraindications to vaccination,” such as things in the family medical history of the child, eczema (unless they are getting the smallpox vaccine), colic, sleep apnea, or being a picky eater.
Bob Sears wasn’t a fan of SB 277, the vaccine law that removed non-medical exemptions in California.
Not surprisingly, he is actively rallying folks against a new bill that would close a loophole in that law. It seems that some doctors were writing medical exemptions for anything and everything, from eczema to swollen lymph nodes.
A very few actually are actually standard contraindications and precautions to commonly used vaccines, so could likely get you a medical exemption to one or more vaccines. GBS within 6 weeks of a flu shot, a precaution, not a contraindication, would be an example. But even in this case, the exemption would be for flu shots, not all vaccines.
“Events or conditions listed as precautions should be reviewed carefully. Benefits of and risks for administering a specific vaccine to a person under these circumstances should be considered. If the risk from the vaccine is believed to outweigh the benefit, the vaccine should not be administered. If the benefit of vaccination is believed to outweigh the risk, the vaccine should be administered. “
Vaccine Recommendations and Guidelines of the ACIP
What about all of the rest of the diseases or “severe reactions” on Bob’s list, like pneumonia, palpitations, eczema, hair loss, IBD, difficulty swallowing, skin infections, testicular pain, HSP, Multiple Sclerosis, and Kawasaki disease, etc.
Bob Sears doesn’t seem to like that more states are having to strengthen their vaccine laws, making it harder for kids to skip or delay their vaccines.
That seems rather ironic, as many parents likely were scared away from vaccinating and protecting their kids because of the misinformation folks like him continue to push.
Are Vaccine Laws a Form of State Sponsored Segregation?
What the latest?
The idea that vaccine laws are a form of state sponsored segregation…
“If you don’t see the historical parallels, and if it doesn’t concern you that State and now Federal Legislators think that discrimination and segregation are OK again, and you don’t realize that this is all a carefully-crafted PR campaign to sell the idea that some children are dirty and dangerous, when decades ago all kids were considered equal, then you are blind.”
Bob Sears isn’t the first to try and conflate skipping vaccines into a civil rights issue, but he is certainly the one being the most obvious about it…
Now when were all kids really considered equal in the United States?
Was it the late 1980s, when Bob thinks everyone had it so great?
Remember, that was just before the big measles outbreaks from 1989 to 1991, when 123 people died. During those three years, there were also 28 deaths from pertussis, 6 deaths from mumps, 13 deaths from rubella and 77 cases of congenital rubella syndrome!
Life was good?
Is this the worst thing Bob has ever posted?
Well, there is that time he talked about unvaccinated kids wearing yellow stars…
“…So I tell them they don’t have to whisper. They can say it loud and clear, with confidence. Ya, I guess you don’t want to advertise it around the neighborhood – that will come soon enough. Scarlet “V” anyone? No, not scarlet. Let’s make it yellow. And not a V – a star would be better. That way everyone can know at first glance who is safe to be around and who is not. That way, if your old doctor and his children are walking down the street, they can easily identify your kids and quickly cross to the other side before they get too close.
Ask your Assemblyperson which color and shape they think would be most appropriate.
Disclaimer: This post is not intended as a reference to a holocaust. Rather, it’s intended to raise the issue of prejudice and discrimination. Others have likenend vaccine injury to a holocaust. Instead, we are talking about families who choose to not vaccinate. No holocaust here.”
Dr. Bob Sears on The Vaccine Whisperers
So which historical parallel is Bob talking about this time?
“Although we give vaccines in my office every day, I oppose HB 3063. As you consider HB 3063, I thought you should have the real-world data from the largest pediatric practice in Oregon with the most patients who will be affected by your proposed bill.”
Paul Thomas goes on to explain why his patients haven’t received all of their recommended vaccines.
One reason is that he doesn’t even offer the rotavirus vaccine, although he doesn’t mention that. But how do you make an informed choice about a vaccine when the vaccine isn’t even available to you?
“Most of my patients make the educated decision not to give one vaccine-hepatitis B – to their infants. This is because you catch hepatitis B from sex and IV drug use so if a child is born to a mother that does not have hepatitis B, the child is at no risk of getting this disease. Preschool and young school-aged children are not at risk for hepatitis B, which is why most countries in the developed world only recommend this vaccine for at-risk groups and not for everyone.”
Since he doesn’t think they are at any risk when they are younger, does Dr. Thomas advocate that his patients catch up on their hepatitis B series when they are older? Does he mention that until we switched to a universal vaccination program, some infants were missed and developed perinatal hepatitis B? Or the risks of needle sticks, etc.?
“These are the kinds of details and nuances that we must discuss with every vaccine. Whether we are talking about vaccines, antibiotics, ADD medication, or even a surgical procedure, we spend a good deal of time with our patients providing what we in medicine call “informed consent.” We explain the risks and benefits of the recommended medical intervention, the risks and benefits of not doing the intervention, and the alternatives. These conversations are best had in the privacy of a doctor’s office, not in the state legislature. As each child is different, we do not believe there should be any one-size-fits-all medicine. “
“Finally, I am also concerned that thousands of families will either leave Oregon-as tens of thousands of families have left California – or leave the public school system and homeschool instead. While I have nothing against homeschooling, I believe this would result in a large and unfortunate loss of revenue for Oregon’s already underfunded public schools. “
It’s a good reminder that the one lesson Oregon can learn from California is to make stricter rules on what counts as a medical exemption…
“We all have the same goal, which is to help Oregon’s children survive and thrive. No one wants a recurrence of infectious diseases in Oregon or anywhere in the United States. “
If Paul Thomas’ real motivation was to stop the outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease and keep states from passing new vaccine laws, then maybe he should stop scaring parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.
“I hired an independent data expert, Dr. Michael Gaven, MD, to analyze the outcomes from my practice as part of a quality assurance project. Dr. Gaven studied the outcomes for those patients born into my practice during the past decade, since I opened my doors on June 1 2008.”
What outcomes? Is it how many of the kids in his practice developed vaccine-preventable diseases unnecessarily?
No, Paul Thomas published data that he thinks says that his unvaccinated kids get less autism than everyone else, except that there is a lot of bias in the numbers, we don’t know how many kids left his practice (especially any who might have developed autism), or even what criteria he uses to diagnose kids with autism. The numbers likely aren’t even statistically significant.
So while you are thinking about whether or not your state legislators should be taking away your personal belief vaccine exemption, a better question would likely be why they added them in the first place.
The Editorial Boards of the leading newspapers in the United States are making sure we know their views about vaccines and vaccine hesitancy.
It started with The New York Times, but certainly didn’t end there.
In addition to two hearings before Congress, many other major newspapers have published vaccine editorials of their own.
“It’s no mystery how we got here. On the internet, anti-vaccine propaganda has outpaced pro-vaccine public health information. The anti-vaxxers, as they are colloquially known, have hundreds of websites promoting their message, a roster of tech- and media-savvy influencers and an aggressive political arm that includes at least a dozen political action committees. Defense against this onslaught has been meager. The C.D.C., the nation’s leading public health agency, has a website with accurate information, but no loud public voice. The United States Surgeon General’s office has been mum. So has the White House — and not just under the current administration. That leaves just a handful of academics who get bombarded with vitriol, including outright threats, every time they try to counter pseudoscience with fact.”
The New York Times on How to Inoculate Against Anti-Vaxxers
“The wretched pox is getting closer. We hope you and yours are vaccinated.”
Chicago Tribune on Major new study adds to our plea: Vaccinate your children against measles
“But a child with fragile health, whose doctor advises to delay vaccines for health reasons, could be in extreme danger in Washington state because so many parents use philosophical exemptions. Vulnerable children are much more likely to be exposed to measles than they should be because Washington allows parents to skip required immunizations based solely on their personal beliefs.”
The Seattle Times on End philosophical vaccine exemption
“We can get kids vaccinated, or we can be in danger together.”
Chicago Sun-Times on Measles, anti-vaccine myths and some advice for Illinois
“Treating a disease like measles and stopping its spread is an expensive proposition. Not to mention, it endangers those who can’t get vaccinated, including vulnerable newborns.”
The Baltimore Sun on It’s about time for a backlash against anti-vaxers
“Recent outbreaks underscore the risks of allowing nonmedical exemptions.”
USA Today on Measles outbreaks underscore risks of allowing nonmedical vaccination exemptions
“The point is, people who do not get vaccinated are threatening the whole population, and DeFoor’s letter is a reminder that failing to get vaccinated can have lifelong consequences.”
The Gainesville Sun on Anti-vaccine myths are dangerous
“The best solution, however, is for parents who are tempted to claim a religious exemption to look at the facts. If your fear of vaccines is based on information repeated in social media or by an anti-vaccine group, you need to try again. Look at medical studies or talk to your doctor.
The measles vaccine can save your child’s life, and it can save the lives of those who are medically unable to take the vaccine.”
Tuscaloosa News on Measles vaccine a must for your child and others
“This isn’t one of those scary epidemics in which the cause and solution are unclear. The cause is a reckless embrace of myth over scientific fact. The solution is vaccination.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Measles is back, thanks to misinformation and loopholes in vaccination rules.
“Yet the distrust of anti-vaxxer parents is a threat to everyone’s children and not just their own.”
The Guardian view on vaccination: a duty of public health
“The anti-vaxxers’ hypothesis rests largely on the shoulders of bunk science that has been discredited and disproven by a number of sources. But this hasn’t stopped their ideas from taking hold.”
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Preventable problems: Anti-vaxxers rely on bunk science
“We identify with parents’ desire to protect their children. But shunning proven vaccinations is making families and communities less healthy, not more so. We urge lawmakers to champion educational efforts to help parents understand that lesson before a major outbreak strikes here.”
Austin American Statesman on Austin’s anti-vaccination rate is nothing to brag about
After reading these Op-Eds, it is even more amazing to realize how far we have come from when the media used to be part of the problem.
Whatever you think about Andrew Wakefield, the real villains of the MMR scandal are the media.”