Current Health-Related Updates
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.
Question: My child just got the MMR vaccine and has a bit of a rash. Should I be concerned about him giving his friends the measles?
Short answer: Nope.
Long answer: Sounds like you’re worried about “vaccine shedding”.
Let’s first discuss what “viral shedding” is. When someone gets sick with a virus, they become contagious and can spread the virus to someone else. The spread happens when the viral particles are expelled from the sick person’s body via a cough or sneeze, or transferred by direct contact to another person. The “shedding” is the viral particles leaving the sick person’s body. You can probably picture this happening, like shedding dead skin cells. Virus all over the place!
When people throw the term “vaccine shedding” around, they are referring to the virus in the vaccine being shed from a recently vaccinated person’s body. Before getting into vaccine shedding, I want to stress that this is super rare. Lots of parents are concerned about their children catching viruses from vaccinated children, when they should really be concerned about catching the virus from unvaccinated children.
Question: I heard even though the flu vaccine missed the target this year it is still a good idea to get one because it stays in your system and could work for strains not covered in next year’s vaccine. Is that true?
Here’s my response:
The flu vaccine was less than 50% effective this year. And that happens. Sometimes those in charge of making the vaccines guess the wrong strains. It’s just not possible to know with certainty what’s going to circulate in the coming flu season. Okay, so they missed this year, but if you get vaccinated, there’s still potential that you may be infected with one of the strains covered in the vaccine, be protected, and never get sick. According to the CDC, analysis of the circulating flu viruses for this season indicate that most H3N2 viruses showing up in sick people are different from the H3N2 strain in the vaccine. But, there is evidence that the vaccine will work well for about 1/3 of the H3N2 strains circulating, and should offer good protection against the H1N1 and influenza B viruses.