We Need To Re-evaluate Vaccine Requirements

There have been stories in recent years that childhood vaccines may cause autism. I have no idea whether or not this is true. My children were routinely vaccinated in the 1970’s with no ill effects, but I have no idea if today’s vaccines are the same as the ones given to my children. However, as more and more people decide to decline vaccinations for their children because of fear of autism, we need to look at the consequences of that decision (for all of us).

The New York Post posted an article today about measles in America.

The New York Post reports:

America has charted 387 cases of measles across 15 states since the beginning of the year — the second-highest number of reported infections since the disease was declared “eliminated” in 2000.

The number was topped only once before, in 2014, when 667 cases were reported by the same date.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s graph of year-over-year cases — updated every Monday — shows that 2019 passed last year in terms of outbreaks as of March 28. There were 372 cases confirmed by this time in 2018.

The states that have reported cases are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington.

Outbreaks — defined as three or more cases — are ongoing in California (Santa Cruz and Butte County), New Jersey, New York (Rockland County and New York City) and Washington, according to the CDC.

Rockland County has banned unvaccinated minors from public spaces. The recurrence of measles in America is the result of two things–parents who refuse to vaccinate their children and travelers who brought the disease to America from foreign countries such as Israel, Ukraine and the Philippines, which currently have measles outbreaks.

We need to find a way to make the vaccine safer (divided into more doses?) to assure parents that it is a good idea to vaccinate their children. This is a public health issue. The other aspect of this measles epidemic is that we need to make sure we control our borders to insure that immigrants are not bringing diseases into this country that have been eradicated. We need to question both legal and illegal immigrants about their health history.

Actions Have Consequences

I am not a doctor, and I raised children before the controversy over vaccines began. I had my children vaccinated because it was what their pediatrician recommended. At the time that was pretty standard. Times have changed, and I am not sure what the right answer is, but at some point it seems that common sense should play a role.

The Hill is reporting today that state lawmakers are considering eliminating the vaccine  exemptions that have been granted to parents. The reason is the recent outbreaks of measles.

The article reports:

But the most recent measles outbreaks, which have infected 159 mostly unvaccinated people in 10 states, is leading some states to reconsider.

“That goes beyond religious freedom,” said Burke.

Every state requires that students be vaccinated to enroll in school, and all states allow exemptions for children who are too sick to receive vaccines or who have a weakened immune system.

Most states also allow exemptions for religious reasons, and 17 states, including Washington and Texas, allow exemptions for both religious and personal or philosophical beliefs, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Both Washington and Texas have seen measles outbreaks this year.

Lawmakers in Iowa, New Jersey and Vermont, which already ban personal or philosophical exemptions, are now debating proposals to eliminate religious exemptions.

I am concerned that if these exemptions are eliminated, exemptions for more controversial vaccines will also be eliminated. I am also concerned that smallpox vaccines are no longer given to American children because the disease is said to have been eradicated in America. Unfortunately, a person recently stopped while attempting to enter America illegally was diagnosed with smallpox. I would like to think that he was the only person with the disease attempting to enter America, but I am not sure that is realistic.

The article concludes:

Outbreaks can occur in communities where there is not a high enough percentage of people who are vaccinated.

Described as “herd immunity” by public health experts, at least 94 percent of a community must be vaccinated against measles to prevent the disease from spreading.

Herd immunity protects those with weakened immune systems, babies who can’t be vaccinated or those who are too sick to receive vaccinations.

But as more and more parents claim vaccine exemptions, experts say, the disease is more likely to spread.

And federal officials have indicated the government might step in if state legislatures don’t.

“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,” Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CNN last week.

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.”

Health committees in the House and Senate are set to hold hearings on the measles outbreaks this month.

It will be interesting to watch the hearings. Good arguments can be made on both sides of this issue.

Smile, You Have Been Manipulated

Last Sunday KRAE News 13 posted an article with the following headline, “Measles outbreak casts spotlight on anti-vaccine movement.” We all heard about the supposedly scientific report that showed a link between vaccines and autism. We also heard later that the research was fraudulent and there was no link. Generally speaking, I think I would vaccinate my children, which is what I did, but not everyone makes that choice. Because of the outbreak of measles that began in Disney World, there has been a focus on those parents who have not vaccinated their children–as if they were responsible for the outbreak of measles. Admittedly, they may not be helping the situation, but before we attack those parents who have refused vaccinations for their children, let’s look at some facts.

A website called stason.org posted statistics on the number of children worldwide who receive vaccinations. These are statistics from the early 1990’s, but they are interesting. In America, parents opt out of vaccines because they fear the consequences of the vaccine more than they fear their child contracting the disease in question. In many other countries, the vaccines are simply not available or not affordable.

According to stason.org (1992 figures):

 About 80% of the world’s children aged less than 1 were
reported to have received measles vaccine

The CDC Website cites a measles vaccination rate for Americans of about 91 percent.

So what am I getting out here? Most American children are protected against measles.

The article at KRAE News 13 reports:

Health authorities believe the outbreak was triggered by a measles-stricken visitor to one of the Disney parks who brought the virus from abroad last month.

As one of the world’s biggest tourist destinations, Disney was a perfect spot for the virus to spread, with large numbers of babies too young to be vaccinated and lots of visitors from countries that do not require measles shots. The disease has since spread beyond Disneyland.

Last summer there were a number of children from South American countries who crossed the Mexican border into America. What percentage of those children was vaccinated? It seems to me that rather than focus anger on parents in America who have refused the measles vaccine, we should be looking to the number of illegal aliens in this country (both children and adults) who because of poverty have never been vaccinated. One of the unintended consequences of President Obama’s policy of not enforcing our southern border may be a much more serious measles epidemic than might have otherwise occurred.