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Monday, June 22, 2015

Vaccines, Data, and the Law

Jenna Chandler writes at The Orange County Register:
There are different ways to look at the correlation between disease and personal-belief exemptions. Researchers, including Jessica Atwell, a doctoral student studying global disease, epidemiology and control at Johns Hopkins University, say county data is too broad.
“What matters most is the community level when you’re talking about transmission of disease. In Southern California, especially, counties like Orange and San Bernardino are huge, and that can be misleading,” she said. “What matters most is who your child is interacting with at school, at church, in play groups. Who are they sharing a room with? Who are they swapping air with?”
That rebuts testimony at an assembly hearing last week by Melissa Floyd, a member of California Coalition for Health Choice, which opposes SB277. Floyd told lawmakers there’s no correlation between the prevalence of disease and number of personal-belief exemptions in a county.
When pertussis came roaring back in 2010 in California, infecting more than 9,000 people and killing 10 infants too young to be vaccinated, the highest rate of disease was in Marin County, where 7.1 percent of children had personal-belief exemptions. Nevada County had the highest percentage of personal-belief exemptions that year at 18.9 percent but its case rate was dramatically lower, according to data from the California Department of Public Health.
But a 2013 study Atwell co-authored in the Journal of Pediatrics mapped the location and timing of outbreak clusters and compared that to the location and number of whooping cough cases with personal-belief exemptions. The study found people who lived in areas with high rates of personal-belief exemptions were 2.5 times more likely to live in a place with a lot of whooping cough cases.
Crystal Shepeard writes at Care2:
The law would also pass the First Amendment test due to a 1905 United States Supreme Court ruling that has been repeatedly upheld. In that case, a man refused to get a mandated Small Pox vaccine, not wanting to pay the required five dollars. While the case was not about religion, the Supreme Court noted that the “liberty secured by the Constitution of the United States does not import an absolute right in each person to be at all times, and in all circumstances, wholly freed from restraint, nor is it an element in such liberty that one person, or a minority of persons residing in any community and enjoying the benefits of its local government, should have power to dominate the majority when supported in their action by the authority of the State.” They concluded that it was in the power of the state to enact a compulsory vaccination program.