Health News, Vaccines

The Real Reason for the Increase in Medical Exemptions

I don’t think anyone really wants to consider the real reasons children need medical exemptions. It’s easier to create a false narrative and blame a group of people, than to take actual responsibility. The word I’m looking for is: scapegoat.

Scapegoat /ˈskāpˌɡōt/ 1. a person (or group of persons) who is blamed for the wrongdoings, mistakes, or faults of others.

The reason why children need medical exemptions is much more nuanced and complex than the claim of ‘fraudulent doctors.’  It has to do with the state of children’s health, and that is much harder to process.

A Misplaced Public Health Crisis

Despite California boasting the 5th largest economy in the world, the health outcomes of the children who live here are dismal compared to our economic peers. California’s Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) is 4.3 deaths per 1,000 live births, which puts us behind at least 36 other nations, including all of Europe (Sweden, Norway, Iceland, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, etc) as well as Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Israel, Ireland, Slovenia, Taiwan, and many more. 

Some individual counties within California have IMR’s on par with developing nations: 8.1 per 1,000 lives births for Fresno County, 6.4 for San Bernardino County, 7.4 for Mendocino County, 7.6 for Yuba County.

Not only that, but the racial disparity of California’s IMR is not something to be ignored: In 2018, African American infants had 9.55 deaths per 1,000 live births, whereas white infants were at 3.75 per 1,000 live births. In 2015, the figures were 9.35, and 3.92, respectively.

Clearly, we have major problems, but higher vaccination rates and compliance does not translate into fewer infant deaths, or better health outcomes.

If that were the case, Mississippi, the state with the highest vaccination rates in the country wouldn’t also have the highest IMR in the country. But it does. That, my friend, is a signal and a warning.

Let’s Look at the Facts

  • California has the 6th highest vaccination coverage in the United States.
  • California also has the 3rd lowest total exemption rate in the country.
  • New York’s exemption rate of 1.1% didn’t prevent the biggest measles outbreak in decades–so are we sure that low exemption rates correlate with ZERO outbreaks when we have evidence of the opposite?
  • From 2011 to 2018, the percent of students in California enrolled in Special Education has increased 19% (from a rate of 10.5% in 2011, to 11.3% in 2014, to 12.5% in 2018).
  • Overall statewide student enrollment declined 0.8% from 2014-15 to 2017-18 (as more students are opting for homeschooling).
  • The counties with higher than average rates of medical exemptions also have higher rates of students enrolled in Special Education.
  • For example, Calaveras County has a higher than average rate of ME and Conditional Entrants that is consistent with a higher than average Special Education enrollment of 21%–state average is 12%.
  • School districts throughout the state range from 1.7% to 23.4% Special Education enrollment, which is positively associated with observable fluctuations in medical exemptions by district.
  • Children with medical conditions, especially conditions brought on by vaccination, will seek out medical exemptions to future vaccinations. These are special needs children. They are students with disabilities. They are students who can’t safely be vaccinated further.

Are the Kids Really Alright?

On the whole, American children are 70% more likely to die before adulthood than kids in other comparably wealthy countries.

In the last several decades, we have collectively witnessed an involution in the health of our nation’s children.

Acute febrile illnesses like Chickenpox (only a few European countries even vaccinate for this) have been replaced by life-long chronic conditions such as auto immune conditions, autism, food allergies, hyper immune disorders, asthma and epilepsy, and childhood cancer–all conditions that we don’t have adequate answers for.

Some people look for answers in genetics, or the hygiene hypothesis. Some people think it may stem from a lackluster microbiome due to many factors like antibiotic use, cesarean delivery, pesticide use, GMOs, and vaccination. Yes, vaccination.

Why should vaccination be off the table? Why would ANYTHING be off the table, when we clearly haven’t identified the cause(s)?

This is the urgent problem that needs our attention. This is the Public Health concern. This is what we should have outrage over. This is the reason for the increase in students in Special Education. This is why families get medical exemptions. This is why families are asking questions, including questions about the CDC vaccine schedule. And exactly who are these ACIP members?

We don’t need to punish doctors for genuinely ‘doing no harm’ or parents for genuinely protecting their children. We are failing parents by not listening to their concerns. By not recording their children’s vaccine reactions. By not reporting them to VAERS, the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System. What we need accountability: in our drug companies; in our government agencies who are supposed to be monitoring them.

Are Vaccines Safe?

To answer this question, we need the data. We need the science. What did the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report from 2013 have to say?

“No studies have compared the differences in health outcomes that some stakeholders questioned between entirely unimmunized populations of children and fully immunized children. Experts who addressed the committee pointed not to a body of evidence that had been overlooked but rather to the fact that existing research has not been designed to test the entire immunization schedule.”

Institute of Medicine. 2013. The Childhood Immunization Schedule and Safety: Stakeholder Concerns, Scientific Evidence, and Future Studies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13563.

What we want to know is: Is the CDC recommended vaccine schedule safe? And to properly answer that question, we would need a fully unvaccinated control group. The unvaccinated kids who are often the butt of pro-vax memes. Suddenly, they become a crucial component in vaccine safety research. We need these unvaccinated children in order to see clearly the physiological and neurological effects of long-term exposure to vaccines.

What Studies Do We Have?

1. Association Between Estimated Cumulative Vaccine Antigen Exposure Through the First 23 Months of Life and Non–Vaccine Targeted Infections From 24 Through 47 Months of Age, Glanz J, et al. JAMA. 2018; 319(9):906-913. 

Notes: Comparing health outcomes for different ranges of antigen exposure. The lowest antigen exposure reference group is 0-198 antigens. So, no unvaccinated group.

Full study here—->Taylor, et al
Notes: 5 case-control and 5 cohort studies. Studies were included that looked at either MMR vaccination, cumulative mercury (Hg) or cumulative thimerosal dosage from vaccinations. No individual study had an unvaccinated control reference group. 

3. Patterns of childhood immunization and all-cause mortalityNatalie L. McCarthy, et al. 2017

Full study here —–> McCarthy, et al

Notes: Study compares mortality rates between children following the ACIP recommended vaccine schedule against children considered “undervaccinated” which are children missing at least one dose. Curiously, 3.3% of the “undervaccinated” group received no vaccines but they are not examined distinctly from the “undervaccinated” group. So, no unvaccinated reference group.

4. Prenatal and Infant Exposure to Thimerosal From Vaccines and Immunoglobulins and Risk of Autism. Cristofer S. PriceWilliam W. Thompson, et al. 2010

Notes: This study wanted to examine the relationships between prenatal and infant ethylmercury exposure from thimerosal-containing vaccines and or immunoglobulin preparations and ASD, but it forgot to include unvaccinated kids. No unvaccinated reference group.

5. Increasing Exposure to Antibody-Stimulating Proteins and Polysaccharides in Vaccines Is Not Associated with Risk of Autism. DeStefano, et al. 2013.

Notes: They tried to evaluate the association between autism and the level of immunologic stimulation received from vaccines administered during the first 2 years of life, but forgot to keep the ZERO exposure group all by itself. The reference groups are: 0-25 antigens, 0-125 antigens, and 0-311 antigens. And then for an even more sensitive analysis, their reference group for a single day exposure was 0-25 antigens, 0-25 antigens, and 0-100 antigens (compared to kids with 3000-6258 antigens). Sadly, this was another missed opportunity. No unvaccinated reference group.

6. Number of antigens in early childhood vaccines and neuropsychological outcomes at age 7-10 years. Iqbal S, et al. 2013

Full Study —-> Iqbal, et al

Notes: They used a publicly available dataset to evaluate the association between antibody-stimulating proteins and polysaccharides from early childhood vaccines and neuropsychological outcomes at age 7-10 years. Lowest exposure reference group is <100. So, no unvaccinated group.

7. On-time Vaccine Receipt in the First Year Does Not Adversely Affect Neuropsychological Outcomes. Michael J. Smith 2010

Full Study —–> Smith, et al

Notes: Comparing timely (within 30 days of recommended schedule) to untimely (children who did not meet that criteria). There is no unvaccinated group.