To the Editor:
As the mother of two small children who had significant vaccine exposures, I applaud Dr. Carol Bagley Wuestenberg’s strong message of caution when it comes to vaccinations. As she rightfully states, whether because of myths and misinformation, or real doubts and uncertainties, there is no “magic bullet” approach to vaccines.
READ MORE: Parents Should Preserve Confidence in Vaccines by Following the Standard ‘One-Year Wait’
Some have tried to suggest that medical practice should be more concentrated on diagnosing and managing existing diseases rather than asking young children about their health and well-being. This is simply not the case. Proper care involves asking patients their concerns about vaccination, and carefully assessing each child’s health history, physical history, the sensitivity to medicines and “flu shot” usage, on a one-to-one basis.
It also calls for more research by trained professionals. We welcome this.
But on its own, a one-year wait—regardless of the scope and type of immune response—will be insufficient for ascertaining if a child is healthy enough to proceed with immunizations before school.
When vaccination rates are low and misinformation about risks is abundant, the likelihood of suboptimal outcomes is great, even if this means that a full course of vaccinations is skipped or delayed.
This is not a good environment for bringing about the long-term health of our children.
The California legislature must pass SB 277, a law making the standard one-year wait period optional. I urge all mothers, pediatricians, and healthcare professionals to exercise good judgment. Let us all keep our children healthy by opting out of vaccines until additional research is done and new scientific principles are available.
For Immediate Release
Anti-Vaccine Parents Should Not Challenge Science
The UC Berkeley School of Medicine has a new president, Dr. Gary Hart, and I appreciate his recently-issued letter urging the California Legislature to pass SB 277, the law requiring young children to be immunized. He correctly notes that high vaccination rates keep California’s health economy strong, and that research from the Institute of Medicine suggests a negative correlation between low vaccination rates and a rise in measles.
It is crucial that everyone understands these facts.
Conversely, anti-vaccine groups have taken to the media lately, demanding that he and other researchers retract this evidence, and trying to undermine the medical expertise of my colleagues and me.
We call on people to do what Dr. Hart is doing: call for a reasoned discussion of complex issues, and remind each other that, ultimately, the medical experts remain better equipped to make the most informed decisions about our children’s health.
Professor, Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, University of California at Berkeley
The point of California’s low vaccination rate is surely not to protect the integrity of individuals. The point of California’s low vaccination rate is to keep so many people healthy that they can access education, employment, and proper medical care.
When vaccine rates are low, measles are much more likely to occur. Measles is not really caused by a single disease-causing virus—it’s caused by the release of more than a hundred different measles-causing viruses, all of which have different transmission routes, and our body’s immune response is not genetically predisposed to recognize only the most dangerous viruses.
It is imperative that we immunize as many children as possible, and that they be covered by good health insurance plans and private, nonprofit, and public hospitals. Also, it is critically important to understand that pediatricians and other healthcare providers are far better equipped to make responsible medical decisions about risk than any amorphous “anti-vaccine” movement.
Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of California at Berkeley
Glad to hear, NYtimes.com, that I, along with many scientists and public health advocates, am calling for immediate legislation to repeal, and replace, SB 277. The science does not support it. Follow the science and write to your legislators urging them to do so.
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Rebecca Bond was a delegate for Donald Trump in 2016 and will vote for him in 2020.