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The Reason Why So Many Kids Aren’t Vaccinated? It’s Not Always Anti-Vaxxers, Some Just Don’t Follow Up

By Jenna Chandler and Lauren M. Whaley, The Orange County Register (TNS)

The mother of a California child who exposed 20 infants to measles last year never intended for her baby to go unvaccinated.

“That baby was not in a family that was against vaccinations. The mom … had four children, and was juggling so much, it had simply slipped her mind,” said Southern California pediatrician Jan Johnson.

In the past year, as a measles outbreak has stricken dozens and a whooping cough epidemic has killed two infants and sickened more than 10,000 people, public attention has focused on parents who refuse to immunize their children, often obtaining personal belief or religious waivers to permanently skirt vaccination laws.

Just under 10 percent of elementary school students in California enroll in school without having all of their vaccines. But it may have more to do with caution and time, than ideology.

Many parents are wary of vaccines, even if they understand the necessity. They get an initial round of vaccines, but then purposely delay some of the required follow-up shots designed to fully protect against diseases. Other parents don’t follow through because they lack access to health care; still others are so busy that they either forget or don’t have time to get the required booster shots.

Those children, who may have as few as one dose of each required vaccination, are allowed to enroll in school. But this partial, or conditional, vaccination is supposed to be temporary.

In California, schools are required to follow up with families and eventually exclude students from classes if they fail to get the all of their vaccines by the time they are due.

Unless there’s an outbreak of a disease, however, those students who don’t follow through are rarely, if ever, kicked out. The problem is, officials often don’t know who has followed through.

“The law says schools need to review (immunization) records every 30 days. It does happen, but I’m sure it’s not as often as legally it should,” said Pamela Kahn, a registered nurse overseeing health and wellness for the Orange County Department of Education.

“When our health care staff is out there caring for chronically ill, our acutely ill children, our special education students, this follow-through often does not rise to the priority level that it probably should,” she said. “It’s probably not realistic (given) how schools are staffed right now.”

Photo: Jessica Lucia via Flickr

Top Reads For News Junkies: ‘The Panic Virus’

In the wake of a measles outbreak, just over a decade after the CDC declared the highly contagious disease had been vanquished in America, there has been widespread condemnation of the selfish stupidity of parents who believe vaccines are somehow more dangerous than the diseases they prevent. The origins of the anti-vaxxer lunacy can be traced to a study, now discredited, that suggested a link between vaccines and autism. The Panic Virus: The True Story Behind the Vaccine-Autism Controversy investigates how this dangerous idea took hold, what the consequences have been to public health, and why myths and madness so often get the edge on good sense and reason.

You can purchase the book here.

This Week In Crazy: Beyoncé Is ‘Mental Poison’

5. Iowa Republicans

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Former Arkansas governor and likely 2016 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has a strange obsession with Beyoncé Knowles, whom he has repeatedly criticized, and even compared to a prostitute. Thanks to the trolls running the latest Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll in Iowa, we now know that he’s not alone.

Tucked in between serious questions about the 2016 Iowa caucus, the pollsters asked a leading question on Queen Bey. And the results were glorious.

Beyonce poll

In other words: By a 40 to 38 percent margin, likely Republican caucus-goers agree that Beyoncé is “mental poison.”

Suddenly, those electoral victories by Huckabee, Rick Santorum, and Joni Ernst make a bit more sense.

With Huckabee nearly certain to jump into the 2016 race, he may end up having to moderate his crazier views to appeal to a broader electorate. But fear not, Iowans: There are still plenty of other right-wing luminaries who spend a surprising amount of time worrying about whether Beyoncé is a demon.

4. Ben Carson

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

When New Jersey governor Chris Christie suggested that parents “need to have some measure of choice” over whether to vaccinate their children, pretty much every prospective presidential candidate rushed to get their own views on the record.

Somewhat surprisingly, Dr. Ben Carson — usually a fountain of crazy soundbites — took a measured, responsible stance: “Certain communicable diseases have been largely eradicated by immunization policies in this country and we should not allow those diseases to return by foregoing safe immunization programs, for philosophical, religious or other reasons when we have the means to eradicate them.”

It didn’t last long.

During a Tuesday appearance on CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper, Carson reiterated that we risk public health crises like the current measles outbreak in California when parents don’t vaccinate their kids. But he also explained who’s really to blame: Immigrants!

“These are things that we had under control. We have to account for the fact that we now have people coming into the country sometimes undocumented people who perhaps have diseases that we had under control,” Carson said. “So now we need to be doubly vigilant about making sure that we immunize them to keep them from getting diseases that once were under control.”

As Caitlin MacNeal points out at Talking Points Memo, “According to the World Health Organization, about 93 percent of children in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, from which a majority of undocumented children have emigrated from, have gotten a measles vaccination.” In other words, the immigrants that Carson fears are more likely to be vaccinated than many American children.

But still, Carson’s point is well taken: It’s not going to be that easy for Rand Paul to steal his role as 2016’s Michele Bachmann. And the countdown to Carson appearing on Michael Savage’s radio show begins now.

3. Del Marsh

Del Marsh

From hypermasculine homosexual stormtroopers to the gay massage-related decline of the military, we’ve heard a lot of terrible arguments against marriage equality. But few have been as desperate as the one unleashed last week by Alabama state senator Del Marsh (R).

With gay marriage nearly a reality in the Heart of Dixie, Marsh felt compelled to bust out the Tea Party’s biggest gun in a last-ditch argument for segregation: We can’t afford it!

“You gotta look at the financial aspect of this as well,” Marsh told a local radio host. “Let’s face it. If gay marriage is approved, I assume that those types of unions, those people would be entitled to Social Security benefits, insurance. Where does it end?”

Think Progress has the audio:

Sure, LGBT couples have been paying taxes towards those benefits for their entire adult lives…but we can’t pass on gay debt to our grandchildren!

Thankfully for Senator Marsh, he needn’t worry. While Alabama can’t afford many things, gay marriage isn’t one of them. According to a 2014 study from the Williams Institute, legalizing gay marriage would bring the state about $13.9 million in its first year.

2. James David Manning
Few people in America can spin a crazy conspiracy theory better than Harlem-based pastor James David Manning. In between appearances on and protests of Fox News, Manning has attracted attention for claiming that President Obama “released the homo demons on the black man” and made a secret deal to support terrorist groups like ISIS and al Qaeda, among other wild assertions.

Manning may have outdone himself with his latest speech, eloquently titled “Don’t let your son cut off his penis.” According to the pastor, Justin Bieber is actually a woman who cut her breasts off — thanks to President Obama’s “evil spirit.”

The insane video speaks for itself:

Please, for the love of God, somebody ask Iowa Republicans what they think about Manning’s theory.

1. Benjamin Cole

It’s been a tough couple of days for this week’s “winner,” Republican aide Benjamin Cole.

Cole, who served as Rep. Aaron Schock’s (R-IL) senior advisor for policy and communications, started the week with an embarrassing story about his failed attempts to kill an article about Schock’s extravagantly decorated, Downton Abbey-themed office. But soon, crystal chandeliers and pheasant-feather displays would be the least of his problems.

On Thursday, ThinkProgress uncovered a series of Facebook posts in which Cole compares black people outside his Washington DC apartment to escaped zoo animals engaging in “mating rituals” (the posts were punctuated with the hashtag “#gentrifytoday” for good measure). And it gets worse.

Shortly thereafter, BuzzFeed News uncovered more racist posts, including complaints that “white people who live in my building are routinely harassed by Black miscreants,” musing about “the deportables,” and a suggestion that a White House mosque be built for President Obama.

Image via BuzzFeed

Image via BuzzFeed

Once it became apparent that his communications director couldn’t even handle a personal Facebook page, Schock gave Cole the boot on Thursday afternoon.

But he should keep his chin up. Maybe Stephen Fincher is hiring.

U.S. Faces Worst Measles Outbreak In 20 Years

By Tony Pugh, McClatchy Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — After declaring in 2000 that measles had been eliminated from the U.S. through a successful vaccination program, government officials now say the number of confirmed cases has reached a 20-year high as people who get the disease abroad bring it back to America.

Unvaccinated residents in the U.S. and foreign visitors who traveled to the Philippines, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Pacific are the main culprits in a growing spike of measles cases in this country that began several years ago and exploded this year.

To date, 288 cases have been reported in 18 states, the highest year-to-date total since 1994 when 963 cases were reported by year’s end.

The overwhelming majority of U.S. cases are among people who have chosen to go unvaccinated for personal, religious or philosophical reasons, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Ohio alone, 138 cases have been linked to Amish communities where several members had traveled to the Philippines, which is experiencing its own measles outbreak with more than 32,000 cases and 42 deaths this year, Schuchat said.

Fifteen outbreaks, involving three or more related cases, have occurred in places like New York City and in California, where six outbreaks were reported in six counties. Forty-three people have been hospitalized nationally, but no deaths have yet been reported, she said.

Health officials are urging people to get vaccinated for measles, especially prior to international travel.

A highly contagious viral respiratory disease that grows in cells at the back of the throat and lungs, measles is spread through the air by coughing, sneezing and even breathing. It can cause fever and cold-like symptoms, along with a stubborn body rash.

About 10 percent of children who get the disease also get an ear infection and about 5 percent develop pneumonia. About one in 1,000 measles patients contract encephalitis and one or two out of 1,000 die.

Prior to the U.S. measles vaccination program, which began in 1963, three to four million people in the U.S. developed measles each year, leading to 48,000 hospitalizations and 400 to 500 deaths.

As measles vaccinations took off in the 1960s, the rate of transmission steadily declined, prompting health officials to declare in 2000 that the indigenous spread of the disease had been eradicated in the United States.

It’s re-emergence through imported cases is a troubling development for health officials. Measles patients in the U.S. range in age from two weeks old to age 65, with more than half being over age 20.

About 164,000 people around the world die from measles each year. Measles also can cause women to miscarry or to give birth prematurely.

Photo via Wikimedia commons