Thursday, March 22, 2012

Me and the Bee

Yesterday the Sacramento Bee expressed its unbridled support for AB 2109, the misguided attempt to herd parents into a doctor's office for a vaccination propaganda session before they can obtain a philosophical exemption. This is their editorial followed by our reply. The above illustration reveals the results the confrontation.

Editorial: We all have a stake in healthy vaccination rate

Published: Wednesday, Mar. 21, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 10A
In San Diego in 2008, a 7-year-old boy who had not been immunized contracted measles on a trip to Switzerland and spread it to his unvaccinated siblings and then his schoolmates.
Parents of many of those children had invoked a loosely written California law that permitted them to decline to have their children immunized based on their personal beliefs. As a result, the public health authorities found that 11 additional people got measles, including two infants. One had to be hospitalized.
California's "personal belief" law must be tightened.
Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, is a pediatrician who clearly understands the science behind vaccinations, and wisdom of communicating facts to parents.
He has introduced Assembly Bill 2109, a straightforward measure that would require physicians or other qualified health care specialists to inform parents of the benefits and risks of vaccines, and to sign forms attesting that they've imparted the information. Parents who still balk at having their child immunized would need to sign forms stating that they've been told of the rewards and risks.
Parents who fear vaccines are trying to do what they think is right. Many have read scare stories and accepted as truth false information from questionable sources. Pan said that among the most difficult fears to confront is that of autism.
There is no link between vaccinations and autism, but fears persist. As the state Department of Public Health points out, the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, the Institute of Medicine and World Health Organization all agree that there is no connection between vaccines and autism.
Of course, vaccines have risk. But the benefits are not readily apparent because vaccines have been so successful. Polio is a rarity, thanks to vaccines. Measles is far less common that it was 45 years ago.
Health authorities blame the 2010 pertussis epidemic in which 10 California babies died in part on under-immunization. The state has since expanded the vaccination requirement. In 2011, there were no recorded deaths attributed to pertussis, also known as whooping cough, something that had not happened since 1991.
As it is, about 2 percent of parents opt out of having their children vaccinated. The number is rising, and is much higher at some schools.
Health authorities become alarmed when vaccination rates fall below 85 to 90 percent. That puts all people at risk, particularly those individuals who for medical reasons cannot be immunized.
Of all 58 California counties, Nevada County had the highest rate of parents of entering kindergartners claiming a personal belief exemption in 2010, says the state Department of Public Health. More than 17 percent of entering kindergartners in 2010 had not been vaccinated.
In Sacramento County, 3.2 percent of entering kindergartners arrived without vaccinations in 2010 because of the parents' beliefs. In 2010, eight Sacramento County schools had opt-out rates of 20 percent or greater, all of them private or charter.
California health officials have shown an ability to carry out effective public health campaigns. Smoking is the best example. Tobacco use has fallen dramatically since California embarked on its anti-smoking effort. The whooping cough campaign is another example. By speaking directly and honestly to parents, physicians can have huge impact.
Pan's measure is intended to provide accurate information, and ensure that parents realize that they place their child and other parents' children at risk by failing to get their children immunized. Pan's bill deserves bipartisan support and rapid approval.
The Bee's past stands
An important issue is that California has a very loose "personal belief exemption," an opt-out for parents that need not be based on religion or medical necessity. Legislators ought to revisit that law. … The bottom line: Kids need to get their vaccinations to protect us all.

Read more here:

Response: You have no idea what you're talking about

It's not the responsibility of children to risk their health to protect other people from generally mild illnesses.

And whether or not the law is “loosely written" is beside the point. The law should not exist in the first place. It is not the role of government to coerce parents into medicating their children.

Your naive faith in Dr. Pan is laughable. How does he clearly understand vaccination when his press release announcing the bill attempts to tie vaccination-exemption policy to a 2010 pertussis outbreak that was, in reality, a product of a poorly-functioning vaccine. A review emerging from the Infectious Disease Society of America confirmed:

Pertussis Vaccine's Waning Immunity Caused California Epidemic. The…vaccine’s failure to deliver durable infection protection to children aged 7-10 years led to the 2010 California pertussis epidemic

Your paper obviously believes that if a "public health official says something it must be true. Sad.

Perhaps, it's not Pan's great wisdom driving this misguided bill but rather his debt to the state’s healthcare apparatus. He has received over $175,000 from big healthcare over the last two years

And your assertion that there is no connection between autism and vaccination is odd since only one vaccine {MMR] and one vaccine ingredient [thimerosal] has ever been studied to any great extent. How do you know there is no connection? Did a public health official tell you?

And it’s absurd that you should credit new vaccine requirements for a lack of pertussis deaths. Pertussis is a cyclical illness and manifests every three to five years - of course after a large outbreak numbers would naturally be expected to fall. We had an “outbreak” in 2005 and numbers fell naturally in subsequent years. Relying on the vested interest comprising the public health machine to make up for you ignorance is a poor recipe for journalism and explains your editorial's ridiculous conclusion favoring the harassment of parents

As to your distress over a public health official becoming concerned realize freedom (do you know what that is?) is not to be squashed every time a public health apparatchik becomes concerned After all, it’s their job to manufacture concern; their jobs depend on it.

Then you move on to the talking point about a decline in rates putting all people at risk. That is of course preposterous. How can it put ALL people at risk when the vast majority are vaccinated and vaccine work in most people. Besides, you cannot put someone at risk if you do not have an illness - and not vaccinating is not an illness. As such, the unvaccinated place no one at risk. After all, do those of you who have not been vaccinated against the flu this season believe that you, by simply existing, are putting your friends, family and co-workers “at risk?” Infectious illnesses have been transmitted between people since the dawn of civilization. Therefore, the decision to remain unvaccinated can only withhold potential protection from others, not put them at risk. And no one has an obligation to undergo unwanted medical treatments to provide theoretical protection to others.

You conclude kids have to protect everyone by submitting to unwanted vaccines. But that contradicts your assertion that kids who don't vaccinate are putting others at risk. To put someone at risk you must create a risk that did not previously exist. But if a risk did not previously exist, why would they need to protect other from a non-existent risk. So which is it? Protect or put at risk?

*Editors note. Great job by our own Marlene Pitman Duke in the comments section as well.


  1. I love your words - IT'S NOT KIDS' RESPONSIBILITY to protect others!
    it's outrageous that they want the parents put their children in risk just potentially "protect" others, although according to vaccine-pushers it's VACCINES should protect them, not the KIDS!

  2. I am supportive of everything you say, I just wish you used a proof-reader to edit your articles. They are lacking punctuation and are poorly written.

  3. "You conclude kids have to protect everyone by submitting to unwanted vaccines. But that contradicts your assertion that kids who don't vaccinate are putting others at risk. To put someone at risk you must create a risk that did not previously exist. But if a risk did not previously exist, why would they need to protect other from a non-existent risk. So which is it? Protect or put at risk?"

    I think there may be a misunderstanding about what vaccines do. They don't stop the spreading of diseases, and that might be what they mean by "putting others at risk." From what I remember, vaccines teach a system to recognize a virus faster, and kill it in a matter of days. So you could be vaccinated, catch a virus and still spread it around. For that matter, you could be vaccinated, and the virus may have changed form, and you may still fall sick.