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Vaccines Tag

When I reported that the Disneyland measles outbreak had officially ended, I also noted that a bill mandating vaccinations for children attending public or private schools was stalled in committee. Due to California's recent infectious disease challenges, which also includes a substantial increase in whooping cough infections, our legislators have cleared Senate Bill 277 repealing the state's current personal and faith-based exemptions, and allowing only vaccinated children to attend public and private schools.
Legislation aimed at reversing the state's liberal vaccine exemption law took a major step forward Wednesday in the state Senate, only a week after support for the bill seemed to be on shaky ground. The dramatic 7-2 vote by the Senate Education Committee surprised some Capitol observers, as one East Bay Democrat, Loni Hancock, of Berkeley, switched sides and voted yes. If the bill becomes law, California would become the third state after Mississippi and West Virginia to slam the door on any exemptions to vaccinations except those issued for medical reasons.
Children with problems like allergies or immune suppression would remain exempt under this new proposed law.

We reported that an unexpected strain of the flu was hitting Americans hard this season. But our pets are becoming ill at alarmingly high rates with a new strain of a flu that impacts them.
An outbreak of canine influenza is reaching epidemic proportions, CBS Chicago reports. Veterinarians say the illness has sickened hundreds of dogs in the Chicago area, and the infection can be deadly. Veterinarian Natalie Marks of Blum Animal Hospital says in the last week alone, more than 70 dogs have been diagnosed with canine influenza, a much more serious illness than the common "kennel cough." And it's not just a Chicago problem. "It's everywhere," Marks says. "There have been a few fatalities."
More information about the illness is available in this eHow video:

About thee months have passed since I first reported that the latest attraction offered at Disneyland, "the happiest place on Earth", was measles. It appears that particular infection has burnt itself out.
The measles outbreak that affected more than 130 Californians since December is over, the California Department of Public Health declared Friday. It has been 42 days since the last known case of B3 strain of measles, the equivalent of two successive incubation periods, said Dr. Karen Smith, director of the health department. The department said in its latest update that 131 people came down with the B3 strain, and five who had a different genotype than the outbreak strain. Of the 131 cases, the state was able to obtain the vaccination status for 81 patients. Of the 81, 70% were unvaccinated.
I will stress that 30% of those infections were among those who had received MMR immunizations, so I will urge Legal Insurrection readers to review their vaccination profiles with their health care providers to determine if booster shots are necessary.

When it comes to domestic problems, a common joke among my independently minded friends is, "It's all Bush's fault." However, when it comes to problems of a more international scope, the preferred target is the United States. So, when tasked with figuring out what went wrong, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues blamed America first! Despite the fact that there have been regular flare-ups of Ebola in Africa since 1976, and that there is a United Nations group that is tasked "to improve health, particularly among disadvantaged populations", a recent report lays the blame for the spread of the virus at America's doorstep.
The United States fumbled its response to the Ebola epidemic before it even began, neglecting experiments to make vaccines and drugs against the virus, and cutting funding to key public health agencies, a presidential commission said Thursday. Americans focused on their own almost nonexistent risk of catching Ebola from travelers instead of pressing to help the truly affected nations, the scathing report from the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues says. They've been acting against their own best interest, the commission said in its report. "Both justice and prudence demand that we do our part in combating such devastating outbreaks. Once we recognize our humanitarian obligations and the ability of infectious diseases to travel in our interconnected world, we cannot choose between the ethical and the prudential," it reads. "Ethics and enlightened interest converge in calling for our country to address epidemics at their source."

They're the "next generation" of Islamic radicals, and they're being trained en masse at the Al Farouk Institute for Cubs in Raqqa, Syria---if a new video released by ISIS is indeed what the group claims it to be. From Fox News:
The 9-minute video released Monday shows about 70 camouflage-clad kids, who are reportedly the children of foreign fighters who have flocked to Iraq and Syria to join the Islamist army. An instructor states in Arabic that most of the children are in the second phase of training and that they represent the "next generation" of ISIS. The video illustrates the charge in a UN Human Rights Council report last year that determined that Islamic State “has established training camps to recruit children into armed roles under the guise of education.” “At the camps, the children recruited received weapons training and religious education,” the report stated. “The existence of such camps seems to indicate that ISIS systematically provides weapons training for children. "Subsequently, they were deployed in active combat during military operations, including suicide-bombing missions," it stated.
According to the Clarion Project's Ryan Mauro, this video serves a bigger purpose than shock value. They're showing us these training camps because they want to convince the world that they're not just committed to wreaking present havoc; it's their version of proof that they're here to stay. "ISIS is emphasizing its child recruits because it obviously makes for good footage but also to emphasize this is a generational struggle," Mauro said. "You can kill off the current leaders and fighters, but their kids will fight on. It makes it harder to celebrate ISIS' losses if you know their manpower will be replenished with brainwashed children." The authenticity of the video has not been independently verified.

A recent outbreak of Measles at Disneyland is the inspiration for the new edition of Afterburner with Bill Whittle. After addressing the false, media-stoked idea that Republicans are anti-vaccine and therefore anti-science, Bill explores the subject of progressive parenting. He points out that kids who are brought up in the constant safety of the everyone-gets-a-trophy school of child rearing are more vulnerable to disease not only of body but of mind. Watch it all below: Watching this video reminded me of a very funny story.

Add Wisconsin to the ever expanding list of states impacted by the measles outbreak. The state's public health officials indicate that two patients are now isolated and being tested for the disease. Last week, there were 14 states with 102 infected citizens and public health officials were warning that the outbreak of this formerly eradicated disease was going to spread.  It looks like that prediction is true. I suspect other states will be joining Wisconsin shortly. Meanwhile, the crisis continues apace in California, as news comes of an infected San Francisco man riding the very public BART system to his job at at LinkedIn and then heading out to a local bistro. There is some good news to be found amid the notices of fever and rashes, however. Disneyland, the epicenter for many of these cases, isn't seeing attendance plummet.

Due to the alarming outbreak of measles across the country, so-called “anti-vaxxers” are coming under extreme criticism. As well they should be. I won’t delve into the particulars of the measles outbreak--Legal Insurrection’s Leslie Eastman offers more analysis and some solutions. I’m more interested in the narrative surrounding “VaccineGate.” Of course, the mainstream media has been fervently trying to frame the anti-vaccination crowd as a collection of screw-balled libertarian Tea Partiers. It’s a slam-dunk narrative, so they think, because conservatives and libertarians are naturally opposed to big government and, for the most part, are skeptical of government actions, programs, and mandates in general. As the mainstream media tries to make out anti-vaxxers as Ted Kaczynski disciples who so-happen to vote Republican, it is gradually coming to light that the anti-vaccination crowd is actually quite bipartisan, and that the whole movement was started by liberal-progressives in southern California. Comedian, actress, and Playboy model Jenny McCarthy is perhaps the most notable anti-vaxxer. In Ithaca, New York, a bastion of liberalism which some call “ten square miles surrounded by reality,” vaccination rates at elementary schools are well below state averages. Some local schools, both public and private, have measles vaccination rates below 90%, whereas the state average is 95%.

In my last post on the continuing measles outbreak, I encouraged Americans to consider vaccinations. Imagine my surprise upon discovering that, as the co-founder of a San Diego Tea Party group, I am also labeled one of the dreaded #antivaxxers! Well, then I personally would like to welcome an iconic Democrat, Robert T. Kennedy, to the ranks of the Tea Party! While some "Tea Party" people don't choose to vaccinate themselves or their children, a look at the states where non-medical exemptions from vaccinations are an option shows that many of them went for Obama in the last election. The Obama Administration must be worried that the lack of immunization for childhood diseases is going to blossom into a major healthcare PR crisis of Ebola-like proportions, because its friends in the mainstream media are now smearing those who don't vaccinate with that vile term, "Tea Party." How, then, can these mainstream publishers explain the preponderance of progressive non-takers?

Back in 2000, the Americas were cited as an example of how to effectively eradicate measles infections by prestigious medical journals; who would have thought that 15 years later, the vaccination for this disease is poised to become a topic in our upcoming presidential race?
A rare moment of clarification occurred Monday morning, in different settings and an ocean apart: President Barack Obama instructed parents to vaccinate their children just as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie seemed to cast doubt upon their requirement. “The science is indisputable,” Obama said*. Parents should have a “measure of choice,” Christie said. ...Christie’s remarks were followed by a report that Iowa Freedom Summit speaker Carly Fiorina had made a similar statement last week, an indication that the GOP 2016 field, even its establishment flank, was beginning to see an incentive in expressing vaccination doubts.
Christie later "clarified" his initial statement; and Senator Rand Paul has also weighed in, expressing concerns about mental disorders as a side effect. As "antivaxxers" becomes a new derogatory term, politicians are evolving faster than bacteria in order to appeal to millennial voters, because 1-in-5 of that golden demographic believes vaccines cause autism. I am an environmental health and occupational safety specialist, so I regularly address risks associated with biohazardous materials. I am a strong believer in the need for vaccinations, especially for measles, which can be fatal. But like most reasonable Americans, I also want to make my medical choices based on the most complete set of information available.

It is ironic that the success of modern vaccination programs against ancient scourges such as measles has been part of the reason parents today are so ignorant about what these diseases can do. A recent outbreak in California has demonstrated the effects of this lack of knowledge:
Researchers have found that past outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases are more likely in places where there are clusters of parents who refuse to have their children vaccinated... In California, vaccine exemptions have increased from 1.5 percent in 2007 to 3.1 percent in 2013, according to an analysis by the Los Angeles Times.
That's a surprisingly large number---but hey, this is California:
Researchers have found that those who refuse vaccines tend to share similarities. "In general, they’re upper-middle to upper class, well-educated — often graduate school-educated — and in jobs in which they exercise some level of control," Offit said. "They believe that they can google the word vaccine and know as much, if not more, as anyone who’s giving them advice."
An enormous amount of damage was also done by fraudulent science in the guise of an influential 1998 article in Lancet claiming a link between vaccines and autism, that has since been proven to be a fraud and retracted. But the study's author, Andrew Wakefield, couldn't have done it alone:

Since I last reported on the Disneyland Measles Outbreak, the number of infected people in California has expanded to 68 and has prompted a warning from a state official.
It’s really difficult to tell now when the last day of exposure might be,” said Dr. Gil Chavez, deputy director of the state’s Center for Infectious Diseases. “For the time being, if you are not vaccinated or if you have an infant who is too young to be vaccinated, you should avoid going to Disneyland.” In all, 59 measles cases have been confirmed statewide, including 13 in San Diego County. Disneyland is associated with 41 of those patients, including five of the park’s employees. Disneyland did not respond directly to the Wednesday recommendation from public-health officials. It referred journalists to a recent statement made by Dr. Pamela Hymel, the park’s chief medical officer, that said Disney was notified of the outbreak on Jan. 7. The company has offered vaccinations and immunity tests to its workers. “Cast members who may have come in contact with those who were positive are being tested for the virus. While awaiting results, they have been put on paid leave until medically cleared,” Hymel said.
I was mulling the idea of taking advantage of the situation, as my family is up-to-date on its vaccinations. However, concerns are increasing about the number of vaccinated individuals becoming ill with the disease. Some medical experts have also expressed concern about the five patients who contracted measles despite being fully vaccinated.

In last night's State of the Union address, President Obama made a lot of promises. From free community college, to middle class tax breaks, to massive tax hikes on the wealthy and investors, the President served up a bill of goods that, given a Republican-controlled Congress, will take a miracle to become reality. This is nothing new for Obama, who has a pretty poor record of delivering on his most high-profile promises. He hasn't allowed Congress to address our broken immigration system; he hasn't eliminated the threat of al-Qaeda; he hasn't closed the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay; and he certainly hasn't brought the kind of "change" that America wants or deserves. Based on an informal tally, President Obama has broken a whopping 112 SOTU promises during his time as President. I don't think any reasonable person would argue that no president has ever added aspirational policy goals to his annual address to the nation, but coming from a man who came into office claiming revolutionary status, the number seems...high? Grabien compiled a video montage of all 112 broken promises. Click below the fold for an all-too-long list of bullet points highlighting all the ways Obama has failed to live up to his promises. 112, and counting. I wonder how long this list will be come 2016?

At the start of the New Year, I noted outbreaks of measles were being reported across the country. Unfortunately for one of America's most iconic institutions, the latest set of cases is being christened the "Disneyland Measles Outbreak"! The number of cases from the initial infections occurring at "the happiest place on earth" is now 51...and more are expected.
The measles outbreak centered in California is rapidly expanding, with officials now confirming 51 cases of the illness -- nearly double the number reported Tuesday -- and warning that more people will probably fall sick with the highly contagious virus. Officials said there was now evidence that the measles outbreak had spread beyond people who visited Disneyland between Dec. 17 and 20 and begun infecting people in the broader community. It is the beginning of a scenario experts have feared. Health officials generally hope a measles outbreak can be contained within a manageable group of people and eventually extinguished by keeping the ill at home or in a hospital room until they recover, with the outbreak eventually being stopped by the broader community of vaccinated people.
The outbreak has been so bad in the San Diego area, it shut down an urgent care facility for a short time.

Some Americans are experiencing an entirely different way of "painting the town red" this New Year. Measles infections are being reported in a number of states. North Carolina's case is sparking concerns about a possible outbreak.
A case of red measles, also known as Rubeola, was diagnosed earlier this week in Moorseville, North Carolina -- worrying health officials and highlighting the renewed threat of measles in this country. The infected person was unvaccinated and had recently returned from a trip to India confirmed Rebecca Carter, the public information officer for Mecklenburg county. Carter said she could not release any additional details such as the age or sex of the person due to patient confidentiality. Dr. William Schaffner said this case is no trivial matter, warning that measles is highly contagious, spreading easily through coughing and sneezing. Symptoms include high fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes and sore throat followed by a rash that spreads all over the body. It can also lead to death, he added. “People without gray hair forget that before vaccines became available, measles used to kill approximately 400 children a year in this country,” he said.
Pennsylvania health officials are sounding the alarm about the potential spread of the disease at a popular children's spot in the Philadelphia area.

I got the gift of karma last night, after returning home from a wonderful Christmas dinner with the in-laws. Why karma?  Because  one of the articles about infectious diseases I missed covering noted that this year's flu shot was ineffective against the most dominant strain of the virus:
The flu vaccine may not be very effective this winter, according to U.S. health officials who worry this may lead to more serious illnesses and deaths. Flu season has begun to ramp up, and officials say the vaccine does not protect well against the dominant strain seen most commonly so far this year. That strain tends to cause more deaths and hospitalizations, especially in the elderly. Though we cannot predict what will happen the rest of this flu season, it's possible we may have a season that's more severe than most," said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at a news conference Thursday. CDC officials think the vaccine should provide some protection and still are urging people to get vaccinated. But it probably won't be as good as if the vaccine strain was a match.
So I came down with a case of that dominant strain last night, as I had received the 2014 vaccine in September. The nausea is so awful that it cannot be described with words -- it must be experienced. We spend millions of our taxpayer dollars for professionals to asses which strains to feature in the annual vaccine mixture. Yet, once again, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fail at its primary job task.

Although the media has recently been less focused on Ebola, the disease is still impacting Africa and the death count now tops 7000. Meanwhile, a new epidemic of a disease that was once thought well-contained by vaccinations may be occurring in my home state of California. The number of cases of whooping cough (pertussis) has skyrocketed this year.
Nearly 10,000 cases have been reported in the state so far this year, and babies are especially prone to hospitalization or even death. ...Whooping cough is cyclical in nature and tends to peak every three to five years. The last outbreak of the disease in California was in 2010. But doctors are discovering that immunity from the current vaccine may be wearing off on a similar timeline. Medical recommendations suggest booster shots after eight years, but doctors are seeing kids who received a booster three years ago getting sick. Public health officials are considering an update to the recommendations to account for the dip in immunity seen after three years. Plus, many kids in some areas aren't getting vaccinated at all. The highest rates of whooping cough are found in the Bay Area counties of Sonoma, Napa and Marin, which also have some of the highest rates of parents who opt out of vaccinating their children. Doctors believe these kids are the root of the current and recent epidemics.
Whooping cough feels like a cold at first, but an intense cough that develops later can produce a "whooping" sound. The disease is caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. It can be treated with antibiotics, but the drugs may not be effective when the illness is in the severe coughing stages. Whooping cough can last for weeks and is especially dangerous to infants under 1 year. California isn't the only state seeing jumps in pertussis infections.