Thursday, May 3, 2012

An Open Letter to Lisa Murawski

AB2109, the bill to herd California parents into a doctor's office for a vaccine lecture in order to obtain a vaccine exemption, is getting closer and closer to becoming law. Just this week, based upon an error-ridden fiscal assessment, the bill passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee. One interesting point regarding the cost analysis was its blatant incongruence. Initially, in order to scare readers, the report describes a frightening scenario in which parents are abandoning vaccines in droves:
the number of vaccine exemptions has increased dramatically in the last decade, leading to real concern about the loss of "herd immunity" and potential for serious disease outbreaks
Amazingly, the costs to combat such a major problem will, according to the report, be almost no existent. To minimize cost concerns in order to get the bill out of committee, readers are promised the remedy to drag all these exemptors back to the herd will have almost no financial impact on the state. The report asserts:

Any impact on Medi-Cal or Healthy Families Program from a small number of
increased office visits, to the extent any program enrollees seek exemptions and require additional office visits to do so, is likely to be negligible.

Further mistakes and misrepresentation prompted me to contact the author. Here is the text of an email I sent today:

In your analysis of AB2109 you state:
“In contrast, the risk of death if someone contracts measles is about 1 in 500”
Not that you care, but this bit of “information” has no basis in reality. In the pre-vaccine era 3-4 million people contracted the measles with ~400 deaths. In Europe in 2011 about 30K cases were reported with ~9 deaths. Your 1-500 number is fantasy
Measles can be prevented by the combination MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine. In the decade before the measles vaccination program began, an estimated 3–4 million people in the United States were infected each year, of whom 400–500 died,
A new report by the World Health Organization in the Weekly Epidemiologic Record has documented more than 30,000 cases of measles in the European Region in 2010 and more than 26,000 thru October in 2011. These numbers of cases come after three years of record low levels in 2007-2009. Measles outbreaks were reported from 36 countries in the region in 2011 and about one quarter of the reported cases (28%) in 2011 were hospitalized and 9 children died.

Additionally, your assertion that, “vaccines are generally considered a crowning public health achievement, and are credited with major reductions in morbidity and mortality over the last century,” is laughable. Anyone not parroting the talking points of the vaccine establishment understands huge decline in mortality came well before the age of vaccination.

I hope parents will not be subjected to this this type of misinformation during their state-mandated vaccine lecture.

Robert Schecter