Friday, April 17, 2015

Politics and Vaccines: An Update

Recently, vaccines have been an overly political subject. The reality, of course, is that this debate is disingenuous, as both the scientific and medical communities overwhelmingly agree that vaccines are usually safe and effective. ( When people don’t get themselves and their children vaccinated, diseases on the verge of elimination can re-emerge and make lots of people sick following the breakdown of herd immunity. One of the most recent examples of this phenomenon we talked about was the measles outbreak earlier this year.
While this event was unfortunate, it did reinvigorate the political debate surrounding vaccine exemption-related legislation. California Senate Bill 277 is a new bill that would require children to be up to date on their vaccine schedule (i.e. not allow parents to cite personal belief or philosophical exemptions to get their kids out of vaccinations) in order to attend primary school. The state senate has decided to delay the vote. Unfortunately, the opponents of the bill have been much more vocal than the proponents: they spoke for 4 hours in comparison to the proponents’ seven minutes. Hundreds of parents testified that the vaccines hurt their children. One of the consequences of passing a bill could be a massive withdrawal of children from school.

Naturally, the opponents cite some faulty logic.
Many of the votes for the bill have come from Democrats, so the bill could become partisan. However, the committee chair (Carol Liu, D-La CaƱada-Flintridge) stated that the bill needed to be “cleaned up” so that it can be voted on again “in a few days.”

And some other links:

Meanwhile in Oregon, nonmedical vaccine exemption rates have declined for the first time in 15 years. The Oregon State Senate is voting on Senate Bill 895. Unlike California’s bill, it would not prevent parents from obtaining nonmedical exemptions, but it requires schools to public their exemption rates on report cards. It would also force parents who want to use nonmedical exemptions to consult a health care provider on the risks and benefits of vaccinations. Currently, there are videos produced by the Oregon Health Authority that these parents can watch. If this bill passes, the videos will no loner count as a form of informed consent (although they will still be available).

Back on the East Coast, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ), expressed his full support of childhood vaccinations, shortly after saying during a tour of the UK that parents should have a “measure of choice.”


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