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Friday, August 14, 2015

Does Fiorina Understand California's Vaccination Law?

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the discredited theory that vaccines cause autism and the role of the issue in presidential campaigns.

Speaking at a town hall on Thursday in Alden, Iowa, Fiorina responded to a question from a mother of five who claimed that one of her children had an adverse reaction to a vaccination, saying “It’s always the parent’s choice.” She continued by referencing her daughter, who Fiorina said was bullied by a school nurse into vaccinating her pre-teen daughter for the Human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted disease. “Measles is one thing…,” Fiorina said.
“When you have highly communicable diseases where you have a vaccine that’s proven, like measles or mumps, then I think a parent can make that choice, but then I think a school district is well within their rights to say, ‘I’m sorry, your child cannot then attend public school,'” Fiorina explained to reporters after the event.
“So a parent has to make that trade-off,” she continued. “I think when we’re talking about some of these more esoteric immunizations, then I think absolutely a parent should have a choice and a school district shouldn’t be able to say, ‘sorry, your kid can’t come to school’ for a disease that’s not communicable, that’s not contagious, and where there really isn’t any proof that they’re necessary at this point.”
Fiorina, who ran for Senate in California in 2010, said she disagreed with the state’s decision recently to eliminate a parent’s right to not vaccinate their children, even in cases of religious objection.
“California is wrong on most everything, honestly,” she said. “I’m not at all surprised that they made that mistake as well.”
It is not clear that Fiorina understands the California law.  First, the law does just what she suggests: keeps unvaccinated kids out of classrooms but allows for their home-schooling.   From the official legislative summary:
The bill would exempt pupils in a home-based private school and students enrolled in an independent study program and who do not receive classroom-based instruction, pursuant to specified law from the prohibition described above.
Second, here is the list of immunizations in the law.  Does she consider any of them to be esoteric?

(1)  Diphtheria.
(2)  Hepatitis B.
(3)  Haemophilus influenzae type b.
(4)  Measles.
(5)  Mumps.
(6)  Pertussis (whooping cough).
 (7)  Poliomyelitis.
(8)  Rubella.
(9)  Tetanus.
(10)  Varicella (chickenpox).
(11)  Any other disease deemed appropriate by the department, taking into consideration the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians.