When ideology endangers public health – call your state representatives

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

I caught the European news on one of the PBS channels the other day and they did a report on a massive measles epidemic in Wales in Great Britain. The most important factor in this measles epidemic is that people had stopped immunizing their children against measles over the years. Measles outbreak in Wales soon to hit 1,000 – Daily Post North Wales:

Officials warned the outbreak could soon become the biggest in UK and Ireland for a generation, and may hit 1,000 cases by the time it peaks.

Shadow Health Minister Darrren Millar AM last night called on parents throughout North Wales to listen to public health professionals.

There are over 10,000 children who are not fully protected by the vaccine in the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board area and at risk of contracting measles.

Gareth Colfer-Williams, 25, was suffering from measles when he died, and is the first fatality to be linked with the disease. Last week the epidemic, which is centred on the Swansea area, reached 808, with 20 new cases being seen every day. Latest figures are due to be released by Public Health Wales (PHW) today [tues] and are expected to show a significant rise as the outbreak continues to show no signs of slowing down.

Officials have warned that it is now at risk of becoming the biggest outbreak in the UK and Ireland since the introduction of the MMR in 1988.

The largest outbreak was seen in 1999-2000 when 1,200 people were affected in Dublin and three died.

Here in the U.S., 2012 was an epidemic year for cases of whooping cough. 2012 worst whooping cough year for US since 1955 – CBS News:

The United States has just suffered its worst year for whooping cough in nearly six decades, according to preliminary figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Last year, cases were up in 48 states and outbreaks were particularly bad in Colorado, Minnesota, Washington state, Wisconsin and Vermont.

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For about 25 years, fewer than 5,000 cases were reported annually in the U.S. But case counts started to climb again in the 1990s although not every year. Numbers jumped to more than 27,000 in 2010, the year California saw an especially bad epidemic.

Why is this happening? In some cases, for example the DTaP vaccine for whooping cough, has weakened over time and a booster shot or strengthening the vaccine, or devising a brand new one has been recommended.

In many cases, people have simply stopped giving their children the recommended series of vaccinations and booster shots that were common when I was that age.

In some cases this is due to the beliefs of certain religions, and in other cases there is a conspiracy theory about certain vaccines causing autism due to trace mercury, promoted by C-list Hollywood celebrities like former Playboy Playmate Jenny McCarthy (yeah, that's from whom you should be taking medical advice). This conspiracy theory has been debunked in numerous studies.

The Arizona legislature today is going to give final consideration to Senate Bill 1108, a bill that would eliminate the requirement that foster families fully immunize their own children. Arizona foster-home vaccination bill proceeds

Republicans and Democrats sparred for almost an hour in a bitter partisan House floor debate before Rep. Steve Montenegro, R-Litchfield Park, abruptly called for a vote, ending the discussion and surprising colleagues on both sides of the aisle. The measure passed on a voice vote and is scheduled for a roll-call vote today.

Montenegro said later he thought the bill was “being used for political grandstanding,” but his move fired up Democrats, who said the measure was a well-intentioned but misguided effort that could harm children by exposing them to vaccine-preventable diseases.

Arizona has a shortage of foster homes, but that’s no reason to place children at risk, particularly with the state in the grips of a whooping cough outbreak, Democrats said.

“We decided that we weren’t going to have a discussion on a bill involving child safety,” said Rep. Eric Meyer, D-Paradise Valley, a physician. “It just boggles my mind that we limited debate on this. … Whooping cough kills kids.”

Senate Bill 1108 easily passed the Senate, 27-2, but Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Peoria, a bill sponsor, said she hoped the tiff with Democrats wouldn’t cost the bill its emergency clause, a status that allows a bill to become law immediately upon the governor’s signature, but which requires a two-thirds majority.

Under the bill, parents who choose not to vaccinate their biological or adopted children could become licensed to care for foster kids, but the state Department of Economic Security would retain authority to determine where to place foster children and continue to require that they’re immunized.

Republicans beat back an amendment from Rep. Debbie McCune Davis, D-Phoenix, that would have foster parents bear the financial burden of any consequences stemming from failing to immunize their children, including medical costs.

“The standard of care in the medical community is that children be immunized,” McCune Davis said. “I don’t understand … why we would put our children, who are our responsibility, at risk. This is a step backwards.”

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Sen. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, and Lesko introduced the measure after hearing from mothers who were told by foster-care licensing agencies that the state would deny them if their biological children didn’t have all their shots.

The parents contended that state rules requiring “each child residing in the foster home shall have all childhood immunizations appropriate to the child’s age and health” should not bar families with a medical reason for not immunizing their own child from taking in foster children.

Rep. Andrea Dalessandro (D-LD 2) writes in an email alert today:

Very few families with unvaccinated children have requested this bill but the risk from a public health perspective is great.  I strongly feel that if Senate Bill 1108 is passed, it will send the wrong message to the parents and could lead to a public health crisis.  

Please contact GOP House members THIS MORNING (because it is being heard today-Tuesday at 1:30) via fax or phone (we get a lot a lot of email) and ask them to say NO to SB 1108 on the Third Read Calendar TODAY.

Call your state representatives now.

UPDATE:  Ideology trumps science in the Arizona legislature. Tuesday’s 33-24 party-line vote in the Tea-Publican-controlled House wasn’t enough of a margin to tack an emergency clause onto the bill that would have it take effect immediately if the governor signs it. House lets foster parents' kids skip vaccines | Arizona Capitol Times. Due to House amendments, there will have to be a Senate concurrence vote before the bill goes to the Governor. Call your state senator to vote no. Then call the Governor and ask her to veto this bill.

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