Personal Belief Exemptions For Vaccines Under Fire
Are listening to midday edition or KPBS I am Tom Fudge now joining me on the program live our Lord reneging Gonzales and Michael couch and this Gonzales joins us from studios in Sacramento she is a member of the state assembly representing San Diego she's also cosponsoring a bill to limit the personal belief exemption for require child vaccinations and Loretta, I can write much Thank you Tom thanks for having Michael Allen's is the director of the research ethics program at UCSD Michael, thank you Good to be here thanks Listeners if you would like to give us a call with your point of view, please call stack 1888 188-8895 KPBS. Lorena, we start with you last week along with California Senators Richard and and then Alan you propose legislation to limit eight the personal belief exception what is this exact -- exemption exactly in what you think the problem Well you know, when you enroll your child into kindergarten, your expected of course to have vaccinated your child unless show that that's happened. However the state of California, and a minority of other states, the individual can actually check a box and say, they have a personal belief against vaccines not just a religious belief which is a person of late that they cannot believe vaccines. And can opt out of it. Although a few years ago, the lowest rated to require those individuals to show they talk to a medical professional about that decision, we still have an alarming rate appearance for deciding not to vaccinate their children and still send them to school Okay. You want to eliminate the personal belief etc. because you feel that it causes too few children to be vaccinated? What's happening we are losing our herd immunity that's one of the reasons that this outbreak of measles has been so expensive. Is when we reach a certain level and I believe it's a percent and of course we are exceeding that in the kindergarten levels, A percent of kids were not vaccinated Sure. That puts an entire community out risk bring out 9.5% so we clearly exceeded that heard immunization rate. And so, as a result, these parents are not only endangering their own children, but there also endangering other children there's a very small percentage for medical reasons cannot get the vaccine, obviously, children under the age of one Doctor the vaccine one reach that situation out as a., I understand the medical decisions are extremely personal go through this with my own children. And that's a personal decision and I understand that right When you cannot look at science and medicine and you put other children at risk, we as a state cannot condone it and we have to be able to say if you want to send your child to school, this is not an acceptable attention Well, it sounds like under this legislation, would basically, okay, your kid has to get his or her shots, and in the story but I do want to ask you if there still might be some exceptions what about an exemption for religious beliefs? Let's say you are a Christian scientist Right now the bill only is seeking to get rid of medical exemption. Still have a medical or the personal belief exemption, sire, you have a medical intention of a child had an immune issue have leukemia, a number of reasons why some children cannot get the immunizations or the religious exception is something we will work through as the bill goes forward an adequate way to deal about the right now cow we're talking only about the person of a lease extension While it will let me turn to to you Michael I've not spoken directly with parents who do not ask it to children but in news reports they often say the should be their choice. Whether or not to vaccinate a child. What do you think about that We live in a society family values personal choice and individual rights. I think most of us will be sympathetic to people being able to make choices that affect only themselves. The issue here, from ethics perspective, it's one about balancing the visual rights versus public interest. On one side, we have individual perhaps believing whether rightly or not that there could be hard in the child getting that vaccine. Even if we believe the evidence is overwhelming, that they are incorrect about that, that's their beliefs so under what circumstance we let them make that choice and cells? Lorena Gonzales, some parents are opting to stagger the child vaccine leading they can avoid side effects if they do it on their own schedule I suppose, the personal belief exemption is done away with they would not be able to do that. No, they wanted to send their children to school they cannot do that. Quite frankly, I think if you go to your pediatrician I just want to point out the center was also carrying this bill Richard Pan is actually Doctor Richard Pan type is a pediatrician. I think the utmost pH rations will tell you, have tried and true schedules and protocols and there is a greater likelihood that you would get struck by lightning than having a severe reaction to this vaccine. And as such, we need to keep people on schedule we need to make sure that children are fully immunized if they will be in school And, my guess Lorena Gonzales, and Michael talisman, this Gonzales joins us from Sacramento in studio she's a member of the state assembly representing San Diego, she is cosponsoring a bill also to eliminate the personal belief exemption, for requiring child vaccination Michael is director of the research ethics program at UCSD I can hear folks say about the vaccines fearing there might be some side effects well, just don't know but it sounds like Lorena, you disagree you think we do know that as far as you know there's no scientific evidence that suggest the vaccines are bad for you You know, if you take an aspirin, is a one in 10,000 shot that you might have a brain bleed of course any medicine and anything that we use in society there is a very remote small chance that there could be a negative affect what I don't want to take away you know, a realistic I think any scientist obviously would tell you that a medical professional. We're talking about is what is deemed to be basically very very safe as a parent, I did the same work that so many of his peers to because you hear this especially the Internet, always believes about vaccines, I did what I think a lot of parents responsible parents do I do my own research, talk to my doctor, I talked to another doctor, and overwhelming medical and scientific evidence shows that number one copies vaccines are safe, and number two, that our society needs in order to ensure that these diseases do not come back measles was eradicated in the US in 2000 the shocking and upsetting that were having to deal with it again now Michael, what would you like to say I guess in response to that? This kind of this trust I guess, some people have of government saying, we don't really know their safe Well, this is the challenge and while we might be legislation when an issue has an overwhelming number of evidence sexing suggest that something is most likely not only safe but extremely beneficial and protects us from harm. That's what we might say, public interest outweighs personal interest our rights are not absolute you cannot stand up in a crowded theater, and yell fire and claim it's my first amended right to do that. And in this case, or the evidence appears to be so overwhelming, you can really understand why the public interest might outweigh what individuals belief And that you reach that tipping point with this issue of herd immunity when you reach a point where really does appear to affect the public good? That's when you have to go with government regulation The answer is a qualified, yes, the key is, how bad is the harm? If we talk about herd immunity for something that may not be anything more than people getting an occasional itch, we might not be having this conversation. If you're talking about herd immunity in the case were high percentages of people or vulnerable for various reasons whether children were seniors or people with depressed immune systems, my contract measles and die from it, then the equation has changed in that favors the argument that we need to think about public interest over individual interest Michael, what you think of the comment by the immunologist that we hurting Joanne story that vaccinations like a victim of the own success? That's obviously true. It's just that everything else you do things protect against the harm and whenever it is not there people think they don't have to worry about it. That's where we are. And, before we're done with the conversation I get really want to get back to you Lorena and ask you first of all, what is the status of your bill is in a committee that I assume it's not been voted on by the Senate and the assembly The language is still being drafted it will be introduced and officially introduced and will start in the Senate, will start there, and go through committee hearings before we see it on the summary site .com Lorena, you look for to improving outreach and education on vaccinations is a some work to be done there? There is. I have a very like situation I represent a part of the city in fact in the South Bay that is almost fully vaccinated it's interesting because, I have a large immigrant population in my district who are largely in fact the vast majority of my schools are 100% vaccinated. It's an interesting dynamic that is ace acceptance but we need to continue to talk about it to other people as well to ensure that we have a lot of call from immigrant parents were confused what is his personal belief exception of July exercise it? We need to continue to have a discussion The demographics of the situation are interesting Michael, we do see the clusters of people not being vaccinated tend to happen in wealthy communities. In private schools. What you make of that? It's not surprising people learn by Inigo personal experience their networks, and so if you have a community that is well-connected then, this information can be spread and delete. I do want to say it's always this information sometimes good information can be spread and delete in the same way. I think one may argue that given the overwhelming evidence, the community learning is talking about her constituency, it sounds like probably good information is spreading at these machinations are important for you to do Okay. Lorena, will this bill if it passes affect just public schools or private schools as well? The vaccination requirement is for both public and private schools charter schools, and so, I think the decision will have to be made by parents whether they want to keep their child home to home school them. On a personal right. But if you send your child to school, they have to be vaccinated if this passes Lorena kind Gonzales joined the some studios in Sacramento she's a member of the state assembly representing San Diego and she's cosponsoring a bill to limit the personal belief exception for children getting vaccinations Lorena, thank you very much Thank you so much Michael Callachman is director of the research ethics program at USDA thank you Thank you
Surveys of school districts, one by KPBS partner inewsource, show about 7.6 percent of kindergarteners in San Diego County are not up-to-date on their vaccinations.
Diseases once thought eradicated are once again resurfacing, and that's concerning to public health officials. In 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared measles was eliminated from the United States thanks to a highly effective measles vaccine and strong vaccination program.
But concerns about studies linking vaccines to autism have more parents opting out of that program. Now, California legislators are looking at ways to bring vaccination numbers up by eliminating personal belief exemptions.