Friday, February 13, 2015

Dear Senator

Everything is happening so fast. A month ago, my big concern was the change in how we obtain religious and philosophical exemptions in Michigan, and I was writing to my elected officials about that. Now I am much more concerned with fighting to keep our exemptions at all. This is the letter I wrote to my state senator today:

Dear Senator,

I am a constituent who voted for you, and I am writing to you about the current political climate around mandatory vaccination, an issue of great concern to me. I was already concerned when Michigan pushed through the sneaky rule change controlling non-medical exemptions (without any opportunity for public comment and without even involving the full legislature), and I have been collecting stories of misinformation and abuse of this new policy since it went into effect (please see attached document). I have watched closely over the last few months as the media has led a fear campaign on the subject of vaccinations, and politicians have responded. The headlines screech about a measles epidemic caused by unvaccinated children. The reality is that 110 cases of measles in a country of 320 million people is far from an "epidemic" and is not even newsworthy. Here in Michigan, this "epidemic" has consisted of ONE VACCINATED ADULT. In California, according to the CDPH, 59% of cases have been in adults over age 20. There has not been a measles death in the US since 2003.

The median total exemption rate for kindergartners in the US in 2013-14 was 1.8%. Michigan had a 5.9% exemption rate for that year. It is important to note that a child missing even one dose of one vaccine counts in that exemption rate. The majority of children with exemptions are partially vaccinated. The primary reason for the increase in exemptions was the addition to the required schedule of the varicella vaccine, which many vaccinating parents have chosen to decline. Michigan had kindergarten vaccination rates of 97.5% for MMR (two doses) and 94.8% for DTaP (4 doses) in 2013-14. Remember that these numbers don't even include kids who received some but not all doses of these vaccines.

The bigger problem is waning immunity among adults. The MMR originally promised to confer lifelong immunity with one dose. When that didn't work, a second dose was added. Now it is clear that immunity wanes after a second dose, and we are hearing that adults should get boosters. How can the government require us to use a product, and then when the product fails, require us to use more of it? Beyond that, the reality is that vaccinations are not a risk free product. There are serious adverse reactions associated with vaccines. CDC Director of Immunization Safety Dr. Frank DeStefano has even admitted that vaccines trigger neurological damage in a subset of genetically susceptible children, and that there is no way to identify these children until it happens to them. 

Our government has protected the pharmaceutical industry from any liability when vaccines cause injury. We cannot allow the government to mandate a product that has no guarantee of being either safe or effective, and then protect the manufacturer from liability when the product fails or causes harm.

Even worse, Merck is currently embroiled in two separate whistleblower cases involving the MMR, one concerning efficacy, and the other safety. The first involves falsification of mumps vaccine efficacy data, while the other involves the omission of study data showing a significant increase in autism in African-American boys after receiving the MMR. I ask you to please carefully read section B starting on page 10 of the legal document for the mumps fraud case against Merck, and the press release from the whistleblower in the autism cover-up story. How can our government support a company engaged in such practices, and force citizens to use their product?

There is no evidence that higher vaccination rates lead to healthier people or to lower health care costs. Mississippi, where there are no religious or philosophical vaccine exemptions, has both the highest childhood vaccination rate and the highest child mortality rate in the nation. Since measles is the current hot topic, let's look at some actual data: Mississippi did not have any cases of measles in 2013. Oregon, with the highest vaccine exemption rate in the country (6.4%), had 5 measles cases in 2013, none of which led to serious complications. In a population the size of Mississippi (2.9 million) or Oregon (3.8 million), there is no statistically significant difference between 0 and 5 cases. As a side note, the media is spreading the story that measles was eradicated in the US in 2000 and that the "anti-vaxxers" have brought it back. This is nonsense. The CDC declared measles "no longer endemic in the US" in 2000, because the 86 cases that year were all traceable to foreign importation. The current outbreak has also been traced to importation, so this designation remains unchanged. There has never been a year without measles cases in the US.

The blame being thrown at the tiny minority of unvaccinated children is especially insidious because it is impossible to trace the source of exposure. You cannot blame an unvaccinated neighbor for germs you may well have picked up from the grocery store shopping cart or any doorknob in town. There seems to be a media-inspired false perception in this country that unvaccinated children are magically spreading germs they have never had. People need to stop and think about this. A healthy unvaccinated person cannot spread a disease. On the flip side, a person recently vaccinated with a live virus CAN spread that disease. The live vaccines, including MMR, rotavirus, and FluMist, carry warnings about staying away from immune-compromised people for a period of time after vaccination. There is also evidence from the FDA that people vaccinated for pertussis can carry and spread pertussis bacteria without showing any symptoms. 

These phenomena explain outbreaks of disease in vaccinated populations, such as this outbreak of pertussis in Massachusetts, in which ALL 15 students who contracted pertussis had been vaccinated. In spite of the fact that there was not a single case of pertussis in an unvaccinated person, the media pointed the finger at vaccine exemptions.
15 Falmouth High Students Diagnosed With Whooping Cough

The American vaccine schedule is rapidly expanding. Children today receive 49 doses of 14 vaccines by age 6. Today’s 6-month-old baby has already received more vaccines than her mother received by age 18. While individual vaccines are tested for safety, there are NO safety studies on the vaccine schedule as a whole. In addition, hundreds of new vaccines are currently in development. If we lose the right to make personal decisions about vaccination, we can expect all of those vaccines to be forced on us in the near future. How far will we let this go? What other rights will we sacrifice along the way?

We live in a country that was founded on the idea of personal freedom. Perhaps the most personal of all freedoms in the right to decide what is put into your own body. Very few Americans decide for religious or other personal reasons to avoid vaccination. Most children with exemptions are partially vaccinated, and overall coverage rates for most vaccines are still above the levels recommended for "herd immunity" (while this effect has been demonstrated to work with NATURAL infection that produces lifelong immunity, vaccine-induced immunity wanes over time, which make herd immunity among the vaccinated a myth).

Most parents choosing to decline vaccines do so after extensive research from sources like the FDA, CDC, and WHO, and after weighing potential risks and benefits for their individual child. Many make the choice after personally witnessing a serious vaccine reaction in one of their children or in a close family member (raising concern that they are among those unidentifiable genetically susceptible people acknowledged by the CDC). There is no "anti-vax movement," but rather individual responsible parents doing what is best for their own family, within their legal rights as Americans. The fear-mongering and draconian measures being suggested in the wake of the current media-fabricated "epidemic" need to stop. We need to take a step back and look at reality, and consider the importance of the personal rights on which our country was founded. Please do your part to protect our rights. I would welcome the opportunity to further discuss this with you.


  1. Thank you for doing this important footwork, especially with the tide pushing against you!

  2. Very well said! If only we could get every politician to read and understand these facts!