February 19, 2015

Bill would ‘close vaccination loophole’

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Little girl getting a flu shotA bill by a freshman Democrat would close what she describes a loophole in vaccinations.

With a rise in the number of unvaccinated, New Mexico and other states have seen outbreaks of Measles, a disease that can be deadly that had largely been stopped because of vaccinations.

Rep. Debbie Armstrong, D-Albuquerque, is the bill’s sponsor and told New Mexico Political Report that the national attention helped bring momentum to the idea.

“There’s national attention on it,” she said. “As a result of that national attention, everyone talking about it, some pediatricians approached me that the time is right to try and deal with this, the current exemptions.”

Another reason she cited was an increase in the amount of unvaccinated children. The Department of Health said there is a 17 percent increase in exemptions requested by parents since 2012.

The spread of measles at Disneyland in Anaheim and BART in San Francisco were two of the more prominent national examples of the spread of measles in the United States.

What her bill would do is remove one of the three exemptions from the list. The so-called “personal beliefs” exemption allows parents to opt out of vaccinating their children. Exemptions for those with health problems that don’t allow them to be vaccinated and an exemption for members of religions that don’t believe in vaccinations would remain.

Some parents believe that vaccinations are dangerous and cause autism. The scientific paper that much of this belief is based on was retracted by The Lancet because of fraud in the research and other major problems.

Armstrong said that she has three adult children, all of whom were vaccinated as children.

“One of my kids is a cancer patient, had cancer as a child, still has cancer as an adult,” Armstrong said. “She would have been at risk from exposure or contracting that disease from someone else.”

In the release announcing the legislation, an Albuquerque pediatrician said it is safe and helpful to vaccinate children.

“There is absolutely no science that says that vaccinations are harmful to children – and they are far better than the deadly illnesses they prevent,” Dr. Tom Rothfeld said. “I vaccinated my own children, without hesitation, and I do the same for my patients.”

When speaking to New Mexico Political Report last week, Dr. Barry Ramo said not vaccinating your children is child abuse.

New Mexico’s congressional delegation all back vaccinations for children.