State Contact for NVIC
Jan. 7, 2004
Colorado is NOT DEAD LAST in vaccinating toddlers.
A recent article in the Rocky Mountain News stated – the $500,000 for immunization is aimed at getting children the full range of shots they need. State health officials told lawmakers earlier this month that Colorado ranks 50th in the nation with a 62.7 percent immunization rate. (1)
From another article, top health officials told lawmakers they’re embarrassed the state ranks dead last in the nation in childhood immunizations (2)
As the state contact for NVIC (National Vaccine Information Center), I have serious concerns about the way this immunization survey is being interpreted and used.
There are several things that public and elected officials should take into consideration before using the 2002 National Immunization Survey as justification for any policy changes or funding.
First, Colorado is NOT last in vaccinating toddlers for most vaccines according to this study. If you look at the estimated individual vaccine coverage levels for children 19 to 35 months for 3 DTP, 3 Polio, 1 MMR, 3 Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) and 3 hepatitis b, they are all over 90%. In each of these categories there are states that rank below CO. (3) (see attached)
Second, the category used by the CDC to rank Colorado last included a 4th DTP shot by the age of 35 months. (4) In Colorado, the 4th dose of DTP can be given up until the age of 48 months. (5) The low ranking does not take this factor into account.
Third, and more importantly, in Colorado the 4th and 5th dose of DTP has been suspended since April 2001 because of shortages. More funding will not change vaccination coverage rates if there are long-term shortages or differences between CDC recommendations and the actual Colorado immunization schedule. (6)
Fourth, the estimates for states should be interpreted with caution according to the CDC publication MMWR, (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report). (7)
Finally, Colorado meets the target set by the Health and Human Services Healthy People 2010 document for vaccination coverage of toddlers of 90%. According to this document, vaccination coverage levels of 90 percent are, in general, sufficient to prevent circulation of viruses and bacteria-causing vaccine-preventable diseases. (8)
Colorado does NOT have a crisis in vaccinating toddlers. Colorado is only last when using a category that includes the suspended 4th DTP shot that can be given up to the age of 48 months.
I would like to know if Governor Owens and elected officials are getting all pertinent details of this study.
I would also like to know how state health officials plan to use the $500,000.00 that is “aimed at getting children the full range of shots they need”.
NVIC and their Colorado members are opposed to any efforts to increase immunization rates or provide “outreach” that would include; parents being coerced to get all shots by using the immunization tracking system; limiting rights of parents to exempt their children from vaccines for medical, religious or personal reasons; or giving parents inaccurate or incomplete information regarding the risks vs. the benefits of vaccines. (9)
Colorado parents are already experiencing serious challenges to their rights to exemption. The number of calls I receive from parents having trouble with exemptions has gone up significantly in recent months. One outrageous example was a newborn baby in Grand Junction forced by court order to receive hepatitis b vaccine against the parents’ objection for religious reasons despite the fact that the mother did not have hepatitis b. (10)
Parents choose not to vaccinate their children according to the “one size fits all” schedule for many different reasons. Most parents that I deal with who are exempting their children from vaccines are doing so for religious reasons, because they have a child who was damaged or killed by a vaccine reaction or because of legitimate safety and efficacy concerns. Many Coloradoans also choose to take an alternative or natural approach to health care and wellness.
Parents, like myself, are doing their own research into vaccines are discovering that there is much more to consider than what they are getting from physicians, the media and local health officials.
The recent flu outbreak and how information was disseminated is an example of this. People getting a vaccine at the local King Soopers or Kmart are not going to be able to get all the information they need about the vaccine or contraindications, let alone have a chance to read the package insert to see what’s in the shot. No one in public health or the media ever mentioned the fact that most flu vaccine still contains the mercury preservative thimerosal. (11) (See attached) Several childhood vaccines still contain mercury. (12)
The controversy over what role mercury in childhood vaccines has in the increase of autism and learning disabilities is ongoing. One recent study concluded - strong epidemiological evidence for a link between increasing mercury from thimerosal containing childhood vaccines and neurodevelopment disorders. (13)
Another concern that has been overlooked is the fact that The Institute of Medicine study, Multiple Immunizations and Immune Dysfunction, concluded that epidemiological evidence regarding risk for allergic disease, particularly asthma, was inadequate to accept or reject a causal relationship. Further studies are needed. (14)
Two of my four children have reactive airways. Asthma and reactive airways in children is a growing problem and I think it’s irresponsible to add flu vaccine for children to the already crowded vaccination schedule when the issue of multiple vaccines causing or contributing to asthma is still being investigated.
It is vital that when public health and elected officials look at vaccination issues, they respect and enforce parental rights and exemption rights. It is also vital that public health officials and elected officials have access to information from all sides of controversial vaccine issues before making any policy decisions.
Many of the ongoing vaccine controversies were addressed at the NVIC Third International Public Conference on Vaccination. I have enclosed a copy of the program from this conference. Please take a look at the number of distinguished speakers who spoke at this conference. I attended this conference and have a full set of audiotapes that I would like to make available to any public health, elected official or staff member that would like more information on some of these controversial issues. These tapes can also be ordered through the NVIC website, www.nvic.org. (15)
(1) Owens set to dole out most of $111.3 million from feds, By John J. Sanko, Rocky Mountain News, December 23, 2003
(2) Funding sought to lift state from 50th spot for kid shots, By John J. Sanko, Rocky Mountain News, December 3, 2003
(3) Estimated Vaccination Coverage^ with Individual Vaccines and Selected Vaccination Series Among Children 19-35 Months of Age by State US, National Immunization Survey, Q1/2002-Q4/2002
(4) Estimated Vaccination Coverage* with 4:3:1:3:3† Among Children 19-35 Months of Age by Race/Ethnicity‡ and by State and Immunization Action Plan Area -- US, National Immunization Survey, Q1/2002-Q4/2002§
(5) Colorado certificate of immunization- CDPHE – PSD-IMM 67375B14-RC10 7/02 and CO immunization manual
(6) CDPHE news release, August 7, 2002
(7) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Aug. 8, 2003, Vol. 52/No. 31 pg. 729 -
(8) Healthy people 2010 Section 14-22
(9) NVIC testimony before the National Vaccine Advisory Committee Immunization Registries Workgroup on Privacy and Confidentiality May 14, 1998
(11) CDC table for thimerosal content in flu vaccine
(12) Institute for Vaccine Safety at Johns Hopkins University
(13) Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Vol. 8, Spring 2003
(14) IOM report on Multiple Immunizations and Immune Dysfunction
(15) National Vaccine Information Center