Several weeks ago I received a most disconcerting robocall from my daughters school district. It spoke of yet another new vaccination requirement being foisted upon California families so their children can retain the privilege of attending our state’s failing public schools.
Assembly Bill No. 354 (a product of years of behind-the-scenes lobbying by The California Immunization Coalition: a shadowy organization representing a collection of vested interests drawn from medicine, public health, insurance, and the American Association of Pediatrics) mandates that one million children receive the Tdap vaccine each year. The public debate and input that scuttled attempts in 2007 to burden our children with an HPV vaccine mandate was this time absent.
The law targets an illness known as pertussis: a respiratory tract infection that can lead, in some cases, to severe coughing spells. It’s an illness that can be life threatening in infants but in older children (the targets of this new legislation) and adults, pertussis is usually mild or even asymptomatic.
The new compulsory vaccine includes boosters against two other infectious illnesses: diphtheria and tetanus. Don’t remember last year’s diphtheria and tetanus outbreaks? That’s because they didn’t happen. Your child just gets two extra medications because an individual pertussis booster is unavailable.
The California Immunization Coalition claims:
Immunizing school-aged children is key to preventing pertussis…from spreading in our communities, and school immunization requirements are the best tool for protecting public health from these preventable diseases.
But is the vaccination of one million children “key” to preventing pertussis and, even if it were, would those coercive vaccinations then be justifiable? The answer is on both counts no. Here’s why targeting kids won’t do much of anything. First, you already have a 43% vaccination rate (a level higher than the national average) in those being targeted) Additionally, you have many in the 7th through 12th grades who have already contracted pertussis and are therefore immune. So a large percentage of that entire group can’t transmit pertussis in the first place. Then we’ve got to consider the fact that, since there are far more adults than adolescents, adults will comprise the majority of the estimated 800,000-3 million undiagnosed adult and adolescent cases that occur in this country each year. And those adults, free from the schoolmaster, aren’t showing much interest in the pertussis vaccine: according to the CDC only 6-14% of adults have received the adult booster.
In a population of 30 million there were, during the worst outbreak in 50 or 60 years, just ten fatalities. There were fourteen cases per one hundred thousand: hardly an existential threat to the state. Since the illness occurs in 3-5 year cycles, fatalities over the next few years will likely range form zero to perhaps two or three (the nation as a whole only experiences ~15-25 fatalities each year). Those figures, poor vaccine-induced immunity and hundreds of thousands of adult infections make it clear that targeting our children is hardly the key to anything. They’re just vulnerable because they’re kids and because they’re in school.
As to my second, point, one million older kids are not objects be used by the state to achieve their goal of providing theoretical protection to babies. Remember, vaccines like any medical procedure carry risks. Concerned families with infants can choose to vaccinate themselves and their own children (70% of infant infections are traceable to family members and or caregivers) Additionally those with babies can, if they so choose, isolate those babies until they can attain vaccine immunity (usually achieved after the first three shots at about six moths. Finally, concerned parents can encourage the hospital at which they give birth adopt vaccination policies to stop transmission by health care workers.
Additionally, vaccinating a twelve year old will likely only buy that child a few years of immunity. Remember the vaccine isn’t very good: even the experts admit “protection” lasts about five years. That’s why this booster will be the sixth pertussis vaccination in these 11 and 12 year-olds’ short lives (natural immunity on the other hand has been shown to last at least thirty years) With such weak immunity, are we then going to require a get out of school series of shots to extend immunity a little further. And will we then use college to keep these children (now really adults) under state control? And when free health care finally comes, will we use that as a mechanism with which to extend mandatory vaccines into perpetuity?
I knew about this new law, but I was surprised by such aggressive kick off: the program doesn’t start till July, which is really the next school year. I guess I shouldn’t have been, after all the group that pushed this legislation through the legislature is now, in conjunction with the California Department of Public Health, conducting something called preteen vaccine week: an event the two groups are both “observing” and “celebrating” and where among other things students are, during class, encouraged to have propaganda contests to see who can best extol the virtues of vaccination. Preteens, teens, adults and seniors are the next big vaccination markets.
Another thing I knew – unlike many Californians – was that exemptions are available to this and any other vaccine. Unfortunately the robocall failed to mention that. But failing to mention vaccine exemptions isn’t unusual. Recent articles about the law, appearing in several local papers, also made no mention of options available to parents.
So at the end of the day this post is really about building awareness. No not the usual disease awareness not even screening awareness and certainly not vaccine awareness I’m writing about freedom awareness. It’s your child’s body, not the school’s and not the government’s. If you think you can help, or if you want “protection for your child, I encourage you to get vaccinated, if however you’re not interested in this new compulsory vaccine, know your rights and know that you can say no.
Robert Schecter is the parent of a fifteen year old unvaccinated daughter; a stock & commodities investor, writer, founder & editor of The Vaccine Machine: a blog challenging the vested interests dedicated to vaccinating our children by any means necessary.