The MMR vaccine is an immunization against three viral diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella (German measles) that is scheduled to be given to children 12-15 months old and 4-6 years old. Adults are scheduled…
‘………BY MARCOS BRETON MBRETON@SACBEE.COM
It’s a shouting match dominated with bullies who make threats, scream about personal beliefs and fill your voice mail with angry phone calls.
Richard Pan – the Sacramento state senator and doctor – is getting a steady dose of such vitriol amid the hottest political fight in California. He strikes a solitary figure in sensible glasses as he gets pummeled every day in the public square.
Pan has people on his side in the fight to immunize as many children against measles and other infectious diseases as possible. But Pan’s support is expressed rationally, scientifically.
His bill, SB 277, would eliminate personal-belief exemptions that allow parents to avoid vaccinating their children, and would require that children be vaccinated before attending private or public schools. Supporters include the state PTA, California public health officers, the California Medical Association and the Los Angeles Unified School District.
The counties of Yolo, Santa Clara, San Francisco, Marin and Los Angeles support this bill, as do the Pasadena Public Health Department, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the American Nurses Association and the San Francisco Unified School District.
There are many more, but you get the point.
None of these groups has demonstrated support by invoking the Holocaust or their “God-given” rights. It doesn’t appear that any of Pan’s supporters have threatened people on the other side. But Pan requires extra security now thanks to threats against him as he lobbies for 277 while it teeters on the verge of being shot down by irrational fears about vaccinations.
Pan’s fellow legislators have begun to buckle. Suddenly, it’s about making sure that those who object to immunizations are not barred from public education.
If that becomes the excuse to undermine the undeniable science that children should be vaccinated to prevent the spread of disease, then it would be refreshing to hear legislators admit that they caved because they were scared.
A myth debunked by science – that vaccines cause autism – has already killed attempts to bolster vaccinations in Oregon and Washington.
“Members just received a lot of calls and emails from the public – some were their constituents and some were from all over the state and the country – just very adamant that they didn’t like it,” said Washington state Rep. June Robinson, a Democrat, to Jeremy B. White of The Sacramento Bee. “I think it changed the vote, quite frankly, for some members who thought they would vote for it and changed their mind. I think people were swayed by the constant barrage of communication.”
What kind of communication?
“They tend to bully, use hyperbolic language,” Pan said. “They’ll call and call and call. Some guy from Texas keeps calling us.”
One Facebook posting compared Pan to a Nazi; another suggested he should be hung with a noose.
Who could forget Robert Kennedy Jr. comparing the rise in autism – which he blames on vaccines – to a holocaust during a speech at the state Capitol?
Kennedy apologized, but the tone has been set. A 1997 British study that linked vaccinations and autism has long been debunked by the scientific community, which finds no link at all. The idea nonetheless persists.
Many people spoke against SB 277 at the Capitol last week. Their reasons were often steeped in fear or in the idea that they could hold themselves separate from a broader community.
The issue that may scuttle SB 277 is the prospect, as expressed by some legislators, that kids would be forced into inadequate home schooling if their parents or guardians refused to immunize them. If a workable compromise can’t be reached – if a mob mentality scares enough legislators to embrace a no vote as an opposed to a compromise – then those who shout the loudest will have won.
There are reasonable people in Sacramento who feel Pan is orchestrating a self-serving overreach. The most recent – and highly publicized measles outbreak – wasn’t at a school but at Disneyland. So why dictate that school kids only gain admission to schools by getting vaccinations first?
Those who ask that question aren’t paying attention.
After being on the wane a decade ago, measles is coming back. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, measles exploded with 668 cases in the U.S. in 2014. There have been more than 150 so far in 2015, according to the CDC. Most of these are in California. Most of them occurred in people who had not been vaccinated.
It’s not just measles. The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics found that clusters of unvaccinated people were one of several factors that led to the worst outbreak of whooping cough in California in 2010 – worse than any year since 1947.
“Why do we have to wait for someone to die?” Pan said on Friday. “One in five people who contract measles are hospitalized. This is not a benign disease.”
Pan said he is drawing a line at schools because it is where children cross paths and if you are allowing the pool of unvaccinated children to grow, you are creating more chances for more outbreaks among the unvaccinated.
“If you have a baby under the age of 1, that child cannot be immunized,” Pan said. “If your child has cancer or lupus, that child cannot be immunized. These are people that depend on everyone else being (immunized).”
In some respects, Pan knows he being outgunned by strident voices citing anecdotal evidence that vaccines are dangerous. Pan is appealing to supporters to speak up for increased vaccinations. But supporters of SB 277 are not vehement – and vehemence is carrying the day.
“We need to protect all children; that’s what this is about,” Pan said. “God help us if someone gets permanent disability or dies because a minority made choices based on misinformation. Shame on us.”………….’
‘………By MICHELLE DIAMENT February 9, 2015
Amid concerns about measles, the nation’s largest autism advocacy group has updated its stance on vaccines and autism, but remains mum on whether it will fund further studies on the issue.
Autism Speaks revised its policy on immunizations in a statement published on its website last week.
“Over the last two decades, extensive research has asked whether there is any link between childhood vaccinations and autism. The results of this research are clear: Vaccines do not cause autism. We urge that all children be fully vaccinated,” reads the statement from Rob Ring, the group’s chief science officer.
The language replaces a four-paragraph statement on the issue which had been in place since April 2013. The organization’s previous position also strongly encouraged parents to vaccinate but said “it remains possible that, in rare cases, immunization may trigger the onset of autism symptoms in a child with an underlying medical or genetic condition.”
The shift in Autism Speaks’ position comes as the nation grapples with a resurgence of measles. The illness was considered to be eliminated from the U.S. in 2000, but 102 cases were reported in 14 states from California to New York in January, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Most of those affected were not vaccinated, health officials say.
Concerns sparked by a 1998 study suggesting a link between autism and the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine have led some parents not to immunize their children. However, the study has since been retracted and the theory widely discredited by medical experts.
“The updated statement was issued this week to reiterate the importance of vaccinations in light of the measles outbreaks,” CJ Volpe, a spokesman for Autism Speaks, told Disability Scoop on Friday.
As recently as 2010, Autism Speaks affirmed its commitment to funding research examining a possible link between autism and vaccines even in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary.
Volpe did not respond to questions about whether Autism Speaks continues to fund research on vaccines. A search of the organization’s online grant database indicates that the group most recently funded a study looking at vaccines and autism, among other issues, in 2011.
Nonetheless, Autism Speaks’ Strategic Plan for Science outlining the group’s priorities for the years 2013 to 2017 continues to make mention of vaccines.
“Autism Speaks is funding studies on the underlying biology of autism, including studies to better understand medical and genetic conditions that are associated with autism that could potentially be linked to adverse responses to immunization,” the strategic plan states.
MORE IN AUTISM………..’
A sensitive subject and thank you for your insight.
No vaccine can be 100% safe, as can no other medical procedure, but one needs to assess, do the advantages outweigh any disadvantages or not and then decide accordingly.
As the mother of an Autistic child, I can’t help but put my two cents worth in on the recent uprising of controversy surrounding the outbreak of measles and the risk of administering the measles, mumps and rubella vaccination. I do believe I have a rather uncommon perspective on the matter. Unique? Maybe not. Nevertheless, here it is.
When my first son (who is completely “normal”) was one year old we went in for his MMR shot and the doctor suggested that I be immunized at the same time. Much to my regret, I did; I found out a few weeks later that I had been two weeks pregnant with my second son when I had the shot. When my second, Chris, was born everything seemed fine. He was developing according to his milestones and even beyond them. He spoke a few words and played normally. Then, at one year…
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