Senator Pan has a “Facts vs. Myths” article on his web page regarding vaccines and SB 277. In supporting his claims, he omits pertinent information and context, which can lead to a misunderstanding of the truth.Offered here is evidence to counter each of his claims and to demonstrate that there is much complexity and nuance in the “vaccine debate” that proponents of SB 277 neglect to mention.
Claim: It is a myth that vaccines cause autism.
TRUTH: Several studies have suggested a connection between vaccines and autism, and more study is warranted especially given that the cause of autism is still is unknown. The Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health in 2010 found boys vaccinated with hepatitis B prior to 1999 had a threefold higher risk for parental report of autism diagnosis. The Journal of Inorganic Chemistry states that there should be “a more rigorous evaluation” of the safety of using aluminum in vaccines because aluminum may be a contributing factor to developing autism. The September 2014 volume of the Journal of Public Health and Epidemiology states, “rising autistic disorder prevalence is directly related to vaccines manufactured utilizing human fetal cells” (Hepatitis A vaccine, MMR vaccine, and varicella vaccine). There is a current whistleblower case against the CDC for omitting statistically significant data, which “suggested that African American males who received the MMR vaccine before age 36 months were at increased risk for autism.” Since the causes of autism are unknown, to summarily deny the ever expanding pediatric schedule of vaccines as a possible contributing factor is both dismissive and dangerous.
Claim: It is a myth that childhood vaccines contain thimerosal (mercury) which is dangerous.
TRUTH: “Thimerosal-free” versions of vaccines still contain thimerosal. Thimerosol is used in the manufacturing of several vaccines, and although it’s removed, there are still trace amounts left in the final product. The inactivated influenza vaccine, which is recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices in 2004 for routine use in children 6 to 23 months of age, contains thimerosal. Many vaccines also contain aluminum, which is a known neurotoxin. 2 ppb mercury = U.S. EPA limit for drinking water.* 200 ppb mercury = level in liquid the EPA classifies as hazardous waste. 50,000 ppb mercury = Current “preservative” level mercury in multi-dose flu, meningococcal, and tetanus vaccines. *EPA guidelines are for ingested mercury and it is reasonable to suggest that safe levels of injected mercury may be even lower than EPA guidelines for ingested mercury.
Claim: It is a myth that the volume of vaccines children receive is unsafe.
TRUTH: The safety of the entire vaccine schedule has never been tested. Vaccines are tested for safety individually and never in combination with other vaccines that are administered together in accordance with the CDC schedule. Merck itself states, “there are limited data relating to the simultaneous administration of [vaccines].” The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies states, “No studies have compared the differences in health outcomes…between entirely unimmunized populations of children and fully immunized children.”
Claim: SB277 would not force parents to vaccinate.
TRUTH: This bill uses coercion to indirectly force parents to vaccinate and would discriminate against disadvantaged minority groups who are most vulnerable to coercion. This bill leaves parents with three options: complying with the CDPH mandated vaccine schedule despite previous physician instruction or violations of religious beliefs; non-compliance which requires state resources to enforce; or homeschooling, which is a tremendous burden for single parent families, low socioeconomic families, English learners, and families with special needs.
Claim: SB 277 would not prevent children who need medical exemptions from receiving them.
TRUTH: Medical exemptions are very difficult to obtain. For instance, children who have a sibling that experiences a severe reaction or dies as a result of vaccination cannot obtain a medical exemption for themselves. The CDC pink book contains guidelines for when a medical exemption is appropriate, and these guidelines are extremely narrow. Furthermore, the CDC guidelines have not been updated with research that suggests there may be segments of the population that are more vulnerable to vaccine injuries, including family history of vaccine injuries or even personal history of certain vaccine side effects. Although Senator Pan Claims that California statute allows a doctor to write a medical exemption for anything she/he thinks is contraindicated, statute is NOT the most crucial law that governs how a physician practices medicine. Court decisions and medical board rules are more influential, and they follow “standard of care” guidelines. In short, a doctor who writes a medical exemption that falls outside of the CDC guidelines risks getting his/her license disciplined.
Claim: It is better to be immunized through vaccines than diseases.
TRUTH: Vaccines have risks as well as benefits. Naturally acquired immunity has risks as well as benefits. Individuals who are immunized through vaccination will require booster shots for the remainder of their life. People who are immunized through contracting the actual disease often will have life-long immunity.
Claim: Vaccines do not contain aborted fetuses.
TRUTH: Fetal cell lines are heavily used in vaccine development. Viruses are grown in human diploid cell cultures. There are aborted fetal cell components, DNA, and proteins present in several vaccines and medicines. Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians, and Protestant Christians are opposed to using products developed using fetal cells obtained from abortions. The Vatican has stated that “doctors and fathers of families…should take recourse, if necessary, to the use of conscientious objection with regard to the use of vaccines produced by means of cell lines of aborted human fetal origin.” Although this letter from the Vatican states that vaccines with moral problems may be used, “there remains a moral duty to continue to fight and to employ every lawful means in order to make life difficult for the pharmaceutical industries which act unscrupulously or unethically.” The Children of God for Life has issued press releases addressing the misstatements made by Senators Pan and Allen during the Senate hearings on SB277.
Claim: People who get vaccinated cannot “shed” the virus and infect others.
TRUTH: Certain vaccines can and do shed, and vaccine manufacturers disclose this in their package inserts. Merck’s package insert for the Varicella vaccine states that one can transmit chickenpox for up to six weeks after vaccination. Measles virus RNA was found in the urine of recently vaccinated individuals up to two weeks after receiving the shot. Other live virus vaccines such as rotavirus, shingles, and influenza can shed the virus for many weeks or months afterwards and infect the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike. The whooping cough vaccine can result in transmission of the disease. Johns Hopkins Hospital warns immunocompromised patients to avoid people who “have recently had a live vaccine (such as chickenpox, measles, rubella, intranasal influenza, polio, or smallpox).
Claim: Parents removing their children from school as a result of SB 277 will not impact school funding.
TRUTH: Schools will be affected by a decline in enrollment. Funding based on ADA (average daily attendance) is affected by absences. Currently, the state legislature has decided that any extra costs due to the passage of SB277 will be the school districts’ responsibility. Special education students that will be forced to stay home will require their therapists and specialists to travel to their homes to conduct their therapies. These extra costs for travelling will be paid for by the school districts alone.