Anti-Vax Parents Sustain Californians’ Goofy Reputation
They turned the country up on its side, and everything loose fell into
———Frank Lloyd Wright (attributed)
The Pathophilia blog lost its most recent breakfast, lunch, and dinner after reading today’s NYT article on the rejection of vaccination by some terribly misguided parents, who happen to live in (shock of shocks)
The problem with the terribly misguided public policy of allowing personal-belief exemptions is that, not only are the vaccination-exempt children susceptible to illness, they pose an infectious risk to children too young to receive vaccines and to those children who have already been vaccinated. The NYT article points out that the measles vaccine, as an example, is not 100% effective at preventing the disease.
This fact was recently illustrated when 2 measles-vaccinated college students in Texas contracted the disease from a traveling sales rep who acquired the infection from a Japanese player at last year’s Little League World Series in
According to the Johns Hopkins Institute for Vaccine Safety, 48 states allow religious exemptions to vaccination (
States That Allow Personal-Belief Exemptions to Vaccination: Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.
The ease with which a personal-belief exemption can be taken varies widely from state to state. According to a 2006 JAMA study, a
Not surprising, the rates of nonmedical exemptions are higher in states that permit personal-belief exemptions and higher still in those states that easily grant the exemptions. The danger of providing personal-belief exemptions and their easy access is demonstrated in the JAMA study, which found that the incidence of pertussis* (ie, whooping cough) in states allowing personal-belief exemptions is more than 2 times the incidence in states allowing only religious exemptions. The incidence of pertussis in states granting easy access to a personal-belief exemption is 90% higher than that in states with more difficult procedures to become exempt. The study defines the following states as providing easy access to exemption (but these states do not all provide personal-belief exemptions): Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Other horrifying information from the NYT article is the hosting of disease parties by anti-vax parents, where their unvaccinated children are exposed to viruses like varicella or measles (presumably from an already sick child in attendance) in an effort to develop natural immunity. I have no idea why this activity doesn’t constitute child endangerment. To justify the parties, Linda Palmer gives the following eye-rolling quote to the NYT, which was no doubt delivered with all the insensible calm that befits it: “It is a very common thing in the natural-health oriented world.” (So is mumps orchitis, but try explaining that to your boy.) Palmer, however, decided against sending her son to a measles party, with the excuse that she feared her son would be ostracized if he became ill, not that she feared her son would become ill.
Even more disturbing is the tolerance of an anti-vaccination attitude by some physicians. The NYT interviewed
One issue not addressed in the NYT article is that of liability, should a vaccinated child or a child too young to receive vaccination acquire a preventable infection from a child who has not been vaccinated on the basis of a personal-belief exemption.
*If only I could mandate that Linda Palmer, Julie Chiariello, Sybil Carlson, and like-minded parents watch this video on a loop until they come to their senses.