Tag: vaccine laws

Are Vaccine Laws a Form of State Sponsored Segregation?

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

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?

I was a little older than 10 in 1988 and remember that folks still died of all of these diseases, so added that to this nice infographic so you get the real perspective.

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?

Equating real problems of discrimination and segregation to the issue of parents wanting to keep their kids unvaccinated and unprotected is not only silly, but it is also offensive.

And for perspective, in 1988, not only did more people get vaccine-preventable diseases, more people died with vaccine-preventable diseases.

Did we freak out about it? Of course not. We worked towards an immunization plan to control and eliminate more of these diseases.

How can Bob Sears be blind to all of this?

More on Vaccine Laws and State Sponsored Segregation

Why Will Paul Thomas’ Patients Be Excluded from School in Oregon?

Like several other states, Oregon is working to strengthen their vaccine laws by making it harder for parents to skip or delay a child’s vaccines.

An unvaccinated child in Oregon nearly died with tetanus recently...
An unvaccinated child in Oregon nearly died with tetanus recently…

This is in response to growing measles outbreaks in the area and the abuse of non-medical exemptions.

Why Will Paul Thomas’ Patients Be Excluded from School in Oregon?

Not surprisingly, a local pediatrician, Paul Thomas, who seems dead set on becoming the next Bob Sears, complete with a book that pushes a so-called alternative non-standard, parent-selected, delayed protection vaccine schedule, is protesting Oregon’s new vaccine bill.

“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

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.”

Paul Thomas

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. “

Paul Thomas

Although Paul Thomas talks about informed consent, a very important part of medicine, it is important to keep in mind that like most folks in the modern anti-vaccine movement, he doesn’t really seem to offer it.

He provides misinformed consent, pushing propaganda that overstates that risks of vaccines, underestimating the risks of vaccine-preventable diseases, and rarely stating the benefits of getting vaccinated.

“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. “

Paul Thomas

Perhaps Paul Thomas missed it, but California is doing just fine after they passed their vaccine law, despite issues with some California doctors have taken advantage of fearful parents, and instead of doing the work to help parents understand that vaccines are safe with few risks, they are writing unjustified medical exemptions.

After years of declines, the vaccination rates for kids in California entering kindergarten in 2017 were at the highest rate since at least 1998!
After years of declines, the vaccination rates for kids in California entering kindergarten in 2017 were at the highest rate since at least 1998!

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. “

Paul Thomas

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.”

Paul Thomas

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.

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and they are necessary. And they are not associated with autism. Stop listening and spreading propaganda, vaccinate your kids, and let’s stop these outbreaks.

More on Paul Thomas

The History of Vaccine Exemptions

As we are starting to see some states get rid of their exemptions with new vaccine laws, it is important to understand that many non-medical exemptions came on the scene relatively recently.

After vaccine mandates to start school helped eliminate measles in the United States, over just a few years, from 1998 to 2000, 15 states added personal belief vaccine exemptions. Texas and Arkansas added theirs a little later, during the 2003-04 school year.

The History of Vaccine Exemptions

What happened in 1998 that made state lawmakers in 15 states allow parents to use personal belief vaccine exemptions to opt out of vaccinating and protecting their kids?

Andrew Wakefield happened in 1998...
Andrew Wakefield happened in 1998…

Oh yeah, that’s when Andrew Wakefield published his infamous paper in Lancet that was later retracted.

That’s right, these exemptions had their origins in perhaps the biggest anti-vaccine myth of them all!

Not that there weren’t warnings. Many of us knew adding the exemptions was a bad idea at the time…

The Austin American Statesman published an editorial in 2003 urging Legislators to fix the mess they had just created.
The Austin American Statesman published an editorial in 2003 urging Legislators to fix the mess they had just created.

And now, here we are with rising rates of vaccine-preventable disease as folks use and abuse their exemptions.

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.

More on the History of Vaccine Exemptions

What Did Benjamin Franklin Say About Vaccines?

Wait, we had vaccines when Ben Franklin was around?

You can learn what Benjamin Franklin thought about vaccines from his autobiography.
You can learn what Benjamin Franklin thought about vaccines from his autobiography.

That was a long time ago.

What Did Benjamin Franklin Say About Vaccines?

Well, we had variolation

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

Benjamin Franklin

The Benjamin Franklin quote many anti-vaccine folks are using these days (do anti-vaccine folks get daily talking points to use?) doesn’t really have anything to do with vaccines though, at least not in the way that they think it does.

“The Franklin quote he nodded to on Tuesday, ironically, means the opposite of what Paul was arguing. When Franklin said, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety,” he was opposing the Penn family’s attempt to carve out an exception for themselves from the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s attempt to tax their lands for the collective good of frontier defense. The liberty Franklin was defending was the liberty the rest of us deserve now, too — liberty to choose to protect ourselves.”

Saad B Omer on Rand Paul is wrong: Vaccines are no threat to liberty

It should be clear that Ben Franklin’s quote shouldn’t be used to attack vaccine mandates. If anything, it can be used to attack free-riders and those who skip or delay vaccines and try to hide in the herd!

“It is a quotation that defends the authority of a legislature to govern in the interests of collective security. It means, in context, not quite the opposite of what it’s almost always quoted as saying but much closer to the opposite than to the thing that people think it means.”

Benjamin Wittes onBen Franklin’s Famous ‘Liberty, Safety’ Quote Lost Its Context In 21st Century

Interestingly, Benjamin Franklin did famously talk about vaccines, or at least smallpox variolation.

“In 1736 I lost one of my sons, a fine boy of four years old, by the small-pox, taken in the common way. I long regretted bitterly, and still regret that I had not given it to him by inoculation. This I mention for the sake of parents who omit that operation, on the supposition that they should never forgive themselves if a child died under it; my example showing that the regret may be the same either way, and that, therefore, the safer should be chosen.”

Benjamin Franklin

He got a little temporary safety, avoiding the side effects of variolation, but what were the consequences? What did he lose?

What do you lose when you make decisions about vaccines based on vaccine misinformation?

What do folks like Rand Paul have to gain by speaking out against vaccines?

More on Benjamin Franklin and Vaccines

Fact Checking Brian Hooker’s Statement to WA Legislators

Anti-vaccine folks brought out a lot of their big guns to a Washington State House Health Committee meeting about personal belief exemptions.

Brian Hooker makes a lot of statements about measles that mirror anti-vaccine talking points.

What was the meeting about?

A bill was introduced in the Washington Legislature that would limit non-medical vaccine exemptions by removing a philosophical or personal objection for the MMR vaccine.

Fact Checking Brian Hooker’s Statement to WA Legislators

Showing up to oppose the bill were Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Toni Bark, and Brian Hooker, none of which helped their side.

Why not?

Let’s see what Hooker said?

“There is a problem with measles in Washington State, but it’s not low vaccination rates, it’s actually high vaccination rates with a vaccine product unable to provide lifetime immunity or vigorous passive maternal protection to infants during the first year of life.”

Brian Hooker

Of course!

Unvaccinated kids are getting measles because we are vaccinating too many people. Why haven’t we noticed this before?

“When the measles vaccine was first introduced, most people over the age of 15 who had wild measles had lifetime immunity. In developed nations, like other communicable infections, measles was no longer dangerous except in rare circumstances because of inadequate nutrition, poor sanitation, and / or lack of healthcare.”

Brian Hooker

It is scary that Hooker makes statements like this, considering that he is an Associate Professor of Biology at Simpson University in Redding, California, where he specializes in chemistry and biology coursework.

When measles was killing kids in the 1950s in the United States, we had good nutrition, sanitation, and access to healthcare.

What was missing?

A measles vaccine!

“Because having the measles was a routine part of childhood, teens, adults, parents, and grandparents were immune. And because of maternal passive immunity, infants were protected.”

Brian Hooker

Yes, measles was once considered a rite of passage, but only because it had to be endured, as there was no way to avoid it. And you had to get sick and survive having measles to earn your lifetime immunity.

Tragically, not everyone did.

“But in fact, if the mothers of the children had wild measles when they were children and they are nursing, the babies may be protected. If the mothers were vaccinated, even if they are nursing, they may not be. Additionally, maternal antibodies transported across the placenta can provide vital immunity against measles for infants.”

Brian Hooker

While it is true that passive immunity from a mother who had a natural infection likely lasts longer than one who had vaccine induced immunity, it isn’t that much longer. At 6 months, few infants still have antibodies against measles, whether their mothers were vaccinated or had naturally acquired immunity. And it has nothing to do with nursing.

“As the editor of the journal Vaccine Dr. Gregory Poland of The Mayo Clinic stated in 1994, “…as measles immunization rates rise to high levels in a population, measles becomes a disease of immunized persons.”

Brian Hooker

Quoting Gregory Poland didn’t go so well for Toni Bark when she tried it at a Minnesota Senate hearing.

“But he also said that sometimes people who oppose the vaccines will pick out one sentence in the scientific study and extrapolate it to mean things that it does not mean… He said that measles is the most contagious disease that we know, and yet we found that fear and ignorance is more so.”

Senator Carla Nelson on The Anti-vaxxers Might Wish that What was Lost had not been Found

It makes you wonder why these folks are still quoting Poland.

“It was reported in the news and provided to legislators that in Clark County, WA there is a 22% exemption rate, but this is based on the voluntary Immunization Information Survey (IIS) which does not accurately reflect the vaccination status of all children enrolled in Washington schools. When compared to the more accurate CDC statistics for the state of Washington for MMR coverage among 19 to 35 month olds, it is 95.3% +/- 2.6%. The IIS erroneously reports this number at 81.8% and cannot be relied upon.”

Brian Hooker

These folks realize that the outbreaks aren’t occurring in the entire state of Washington, right? They are in very specific schools and communities where we do find very high levels of non-medical vaccine exemptions. These are the clusters of intentionally unvaccinated children experts have been warning about, the pockets of susceptibles.

“As I have already remarked, vaccination does not guarantee immunization and infectious diseases routinely break out in highly vaccinated communities. An example of this is pertussis outbreaks, which occur due to problems with the acellular pertussis portion of the DTaP and Tdap vaccine, creating asymptomatic carriers.”

Brian Hooker

Vaccination does not guarantee immunization?

I guess that is a way to say that vaccines aren’t 100% effective, but that is hardly an effective argument against getting vaccinated. Being intentionally unvaccinated often guarantees that you will get sick in an outbreak. Remember, even in outbreaks of pertussis and mumps, when waning immunity can be a concern, that attack rate is much higher in those who are unvaccinated.

“Over the past ten years in the U.S., there has been one reported death from the measles, and it is unclear based on the medical history of the patient whether and how measles played a role in their death. During the same time period (based on Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) reports), there have been 105 reported deaths associated with the MMR or MMRV vaccinations.”

Brian Hooker

There have actually been seven measles deaths in the United States in the past 10 years, although only one was verified by the CDC.

Still, if Hooker is going to push unverified vaccine deaths in VAERS, why wouldn’t he also look at the reports of deaths from measles in the CDC Wonder database? And the 9 additional SSPE deaths?

And to doubt that measles actually killed a woman who got caught up in the 2015 measles outbreaks in Washington? What’s wrong with the modern anti-vaccine movement?!?

“You must not only protect those who are susceptible to poor infection outcome, but protect those who are susceptible to poor vaccination outcome, and to consider the unintended consequences of a fully vaccinated population that does not have lifetime immunity.”

Brian Hooker

It is becoming ever more clear that we must protect ourselves from these folks who push anti-vaccine propaganda and scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

What does Hooker intend to do to “protect those who are susceptible to poor infection outcome?” How does he propose that everyone get lifetime immunity if they don’t get vaccinated?

“I also warn them not to share their fears with their neighbors, because if too many people avoid the MMR, we’ll likely see the diseases increase significantly.”

Dr. Bob Sears in The Vaccine Book

Anti-vaccine folks have already done such a good job scaring parents that too many of them are abusing vaccine exemptions. That’s why we are having more outbreaks, especially with the global rise in measles, and why states are having to tighten their vaccine laws.

More on Fact Checking Brian Hooker’s Statement to WA Legislators

Are New Federal Vaccine Laws Coming?

Have you seen the headlines?

CNN ran a story about how the Federal government might step in to change lax vaccine laws.

I wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t, as few media outlets took the click bait and ran with the story…

Are New Federal Vaccine Laws Coming?

So what’s the story?

FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb originally told Axios that “Too many states have lax laws.”

This led to the article by CNN.

“Some states are engaging in such wide exemptions that they’re creating the opportunity for outbreaks on a scale that is going to have national implications,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said Tuesday in an interview with CNN.

If “certain states continue down the path that they’re on, I think they’re going to force the hand of the federal health agencies,” he added.

FDA chief: Federal government might step in if states don’t change lax vaccine laws

Force the hand of the federal health agencies to do what?

“The commissioner was vague on when he thought the federal government should take action and what exactly that action should be. “You could mandate certain rules about what is and isn’t permissible when it comes to allowing people to have exemptions,” he said.”

FDA chief: Federal government might step in if states don’t change lax vaccine laws

Yeah, except neither the FDA, CDC, nor any other federal health agency could actually do that.

“Historically, the preservation of the public health has been the primary responsibility of state and local governments, and the authority to enact laws relevant to the protection of the public health derives from the state’s general police powers. With regard to communicable disease outbreaks, these powers may include the enactment of mandatory vaccination laws.”

Mandatory Vaccinations: Precedent and Current Laws

Of course, that hasn’t kept anti-vaccine folks from getting their feathers ruffled.

Is a story about something that can't really happen a coordinated attack on our medical freedom?

What could the Federal government do about vaccines to cause folks to revolt?

“Any federal mandatory vaccination program applicable to the general public would likely be limited to areas of existing federal jurisdiction, i.e., interstate and foreign commerce, similar to the federal quarantine authority. This limitation on federal jurisdiction acknowledges that states have the primary responsibility for protecting the public health, but that under certain circumstances, federal intervention may be necessary.”

Mandatory Vaccinations: Precedent and Current Laws

Not much.

There isn’t much room for the Federal government to intervene to improve vaccination rates at the state level, except maybe to make sure that vaccines are readily available to everyone that wants them.

Federal jurisdiction over public health matters derives from the Commerce Clause, which states that Congress shall have the power “[t]o regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States….”

Mandatory Vaccinations: Precedent and Current Laws

Or is there…

Vaccine preventable diseases are just a plane ride away.
Vaccine preventable diseases are just a plane ride away.

Considering that most measles outbreaks are imported, one very simple Federal law that could help might be one that simply reminds folks who plan a trip out of the country to get vaccinated and protected.

That could help them remember to get caught up on their vaccines so that they don’t come home measles, triggering an outbreak.

Not a requirement to get vaccinated, as that would be hard to enforce, but education and reminders about the recommended vaccines you should get before a trip.

Would that cause anti-vaccine folks to revolt?

Are New Federal Vaccine Laws Coming?

A Legislative Guide to Advocating for Stronger Vaccine Laws

Having to get vaccinated to attend school isn’t a new idea.

In 1827, Boston mandated that all children attending public school must receive the smallpox vaccine.

Believe it or not, it wasn’t until the 1980-81 school year that there were laws in all 50 states mandating that children receive vaccinations before starting school. The smallpox vaccine wasn’t one of them…

A Legislative Guide to Advocating for Stronger Vaccine Laws

Not surprisingly, as vaccines did their job and rates of vaccine-preventable diseases dropped, politicians were able to weaken our vaccine laws.

Over just a few years, from 1998 to 2000, 15 states added personal belief vaccine exemptions!

We are now paying the price, with increases of vaccine-preventable diseases among clusters of intentionally unvaccinated children whose parents claim non-medical vaccine exemptions.

And that’s why we are seeing more and more states work to strengthen their vaccine laws.

Legislators who want to combat vaccine exemption abuse should enact laws that make it clear that:

  • medical exemptions are based on ACIP guidelines, current accepted medical practice, and evidence-based medicine – not anecdotes
  • medical exemptions should be reviewed and approved by the State Epidemiologist, Deputy State Epidemiologist, or other designated professionals at the health department
  • religious exemptions, if included at all, should specifically exclude philosophical exemptions and must reflect a sincere religious belief
  • philosophical exemptions, if included at all, should require some degree of education against the myths and misinformation that scares parents away from vaccinating their kids
  • exempted students will be excluded from school during outbreaks
  • exemptions should include a signed affidavit that is notarized
  • exemptions should be recertified each year
  • most exemptions are temporary
  • a separate exemption application should be required for each vaccine
  • exemption rates should be tracked at the school level and should be posted on school websites

Getting an exemption shouldn’t be easier than getting vaccinated!

Become an advocate and help get more kids vaccinated. You can also help stop bad vaccine laws from being enacted in your state, including some that would make it even easier to get an exemption.

More on A Legislative Guide to Stronger Vaccine Laws