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Vexed by Vax 'Bias' 

Editor:

I love Linda Stansberry's writing and have have learned a lot from many of her previous articles. I have to take issue with "Shot in the Dark: With SB 277 fully in effect, parents explore shrinking options" (Aug. 31) because she expresses a clear anti vaccine bias. I would have entitled a similar article: "A Shot in the Arm: With SB 277 in effect, parents can rest assured that their children won't catch to preventable infections at school."

First off, she calls the law "controversial." Among pediatricians, those professionals who dedicate their lives to improving the health of children, there is no controversy — this law is considered long overdue. In fact, it was authored by a pediatrician, Richard Pan. I am glad to hear that enrollment in local schools was not greatly impacted. The Legislature and school system have accomplished something my colleagues and I have not been able to do: get reluctant parents to vaccinate. Stansberry quotes a parent who bemoans the fact that medical exemptions are hard to get. This is true. Medical exemptions are not given lightly: They are reserved for children with serious illnesses like cancer, profound immune deficiencies or HIV. Healthy children need to vaccinate so their classmate with leukemia (who can't vaccinate) does not have to worry about dying from chicken pox contracted at school.

Reportedly there are no medical exemption-granting "sympathetic doctors" in all of Humboldt County. Well, kudos to the medical professionals in our area for following the evidence-based recommendations of our infectious disease experts at the Centers for Disease Control. The statement "Healthy children, free of disease, are denied a free public education" displays a basic ignorance of infectious disease. Most infectious diseases are contagious days to weeks prior to the onset of symptoms. A policy of excluding symptomatic children from school would be a dismal failure. Vaccines are safe and effective. There is no "right" to allow your child to expose others to whooping cough or measles and it is absurd to assert otherwise. Having schoolchildren vaccinated protects all of us, and especially protects the most vulnerable of all — children with cancer or weakened immune systems.

Emily Dalton, Eureka

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