California joined Mississippi and West Virginia with the passing of Senate Bill 277 last July (2016). This bill did away with religious and philosophical vaccine exemptions, allowing only medical exemptions accepted in the school system. The bill was sparked by the 2014, measles outbreak in Disneyland that affected 159 people in the US and dozens in Mexico and Canada.
Up until last July vaccine exemption numbers had been climbing in California marked by a rise in personal belief exemptions filed by California parents. Every year there had been a slightly larger number of children entering the school system without having gotten their vaccines.
Also included in the bill is the mandatory vaccination of all children entering school. The new legislation applies only to children entering a few checkpoints in any upcoming school year: day care, kindergarten, and seventh grade. That means that an unvaccinated child who entered kindergarten in the fall of 2015 will continue to go without vaccination until the next check point–seventh grade. That’s a long time left unprotected.
The passing of Senate Bill 277 is being hailed by it’s supporters as a victory for public health, however parents of the unvaccinated are claiming this is a violation of their parental rights. Many have chosen to move out of the stater or have removed their children from the school system. Therefore, California is still seeing high numbers of unvaccinated pockets of people and thus, unprotected communities. When these unprotected communities see disease it quickly spreads because there are not enough vaccinated people to keep it contained.
So Measles is back. And this time it’s in Los Angeles. Continue reading
All 50 states allow medical exemption from vaccination. Medical vaccination exemptions have been in place for a long time for people who are immunocompromised (with weakened immune system) or for various other conditions that make getting vaccinated dangerous. These are necessary exemptions, however they leave very sick people vulnerable to disease.
Over the last decade many states across the US have been allowing nonmedical exemptions including those for religious rights and philosophical opposition. Your right to nomedical exemption is based on your state’s exemption laws. And in some states there is also the possibility of exemption based on proof of immunity to a disease.
As of 2016, all U.S. states allow a religious exemption to vaccination except California, Mississippi and West Virginia.
The rise of nonmedical exemption is leaving large pockets of unvaccinated individuals in many states–places where there is higher risk and incidence of preventable disease.
Source: CDC 2009-10 through 2015-16 School Year Vaccination Exemptions Trend Report | 2010 data is not available GIF / Youtube
The short answer?
The diseases are not gone.
The long answer?
It’s true that diseases we vaccinate against are becoming very rare in developed parts of the world, however we owe that to a number of factors. We wash our hands, clean our food and the things we encounter, take precautions with the sick because we are for the most part informed people, but the biggest reason of all why these diseases are scarce is because we vaccinate and we keep vaccinating.
I absolutely love this analogy from the Center for Disease Control (CDC):
“It’s much like bailing out a boat with a slow leak. When we started bailing, the boat was filled with water. But we have been bailing fast and hard, and now it is almost dry. We could say, ‘Good. The boat is dry now, so we can throw away the bucket and relax.’ But the leak hasn’t stopped. Before long we’d notice a little water seeping in, and soon it might be back up to the same level as when we started.” Continue reading
Pretend you are a scientist researching a new drug for liver disease. You have decided you would like to test your drug out on a very specific type of liver cell. So you take some cells you harvested from liver tissue and you grow them in colonies (which are very hard to keep alive), feed them complex nutrients to grow and thrive, and stabilize them in an environment conducive to their growth. Have you gone crazy yet? Well if you haven’t, imagine collecting the best growing cells, re-plating them and growing them again. Then picking the best cells and growing those cells again. And again. Then imagine watching the plates of those little cells you nursed to life die at the site of your new drug. Are you frustrated yet?
Stem cells could take all the guesswork and frustration out of growing cells. With the proper nutrients—or growth factors, stem cells have the potential to become the exact cell you select them to become. The growth factors send chemical signals to the cells that tell them exactly what type of cell they need to be. What a revolution! Continue reading
My son got his first Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccine (MMR) a little over two weeks ago. This vaccine has gotten a lot of negative press lately, but it really IS a great vaccine. One reason why it’s so great is because it contains weakened live viral particles. Live vaccines create the strongest immune response because they are most like the disease-causing virus. The not so fun part about a live vaccine is that, because they are most like the wild virus, the body often displays some of the symptoms of the disease. Many children experience these mild symptoms with the MMR vaccine:
- Fever (up to 1 person out of 6)
- Mild rash (about 1 person out of 20)
- Swelling of glands in the cheeks or neck (about 1 person out of 75), which occurs less often after the second dose.
- Temporary pain and stiffness in the joints, mostly in teenage or adult women (up to 1 out of 4)
Because it takes time for the body to create an immune response (that we can see), many of these symptoms do not show up until around two weeks after the injection. And to the DAY, my son developed several of these mild symptoms.
I’m sure my kids don’t appreciate this, but I always find their symptoms fascinating. That’s why you see a lot of pictures of my children’s symptoms–they get everything, by the way. And I’m often happy to see these signs as I know that their bodies are making the proper response to the injection. (I know, that’s odd.)
Anyway, he ran a fever for several days about two weeks after the injection, and then he developed the measles-like rash. The rash was red and raised, mostly on his torso and face. I am including a picture of his tummy.
I wanted to post this because so many people come to me wondering if this is a serious problem or a vaccine allergy. But, in the case of the above problems, no treatment is needed, and the symptoms should go away in several days. If the child is getting worse, however, it might be wise to consult your child’s doctor.