Saturday, October 19

Tentative UC plan on vaccinations draws mixed reaction from students

Current vaccine requirement:
Hepatitis B

Possible new vaccine requirements by fall 2017:
Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR); varicella (chickenpox); meningococcal; tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap)

Incoming students may have to take four additional vaccines recommended by the state health department before registering at the University of California in fall 2017, according to a tentative University plan.

The change would be part of a three-year proposal to educate students about immunizations and take preventive measures against infectious diseases on college campuses, said Dr. Gina Fleming, medical director for the UC Self-Insured Health Plans.

The plan, which is in its early stages, comes in the wake of outbreaks of infectious diseases, including tuberculosis and meningitis, on college campuses in recent years.

At the same time, a movement of parents who are choosing to opt out of vaccinating their children has grown nationally in recent years, said Dr. James Cherry, a pediatric infectious diseases expert at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

The first year of the plan would require that incoming students read a form about recommended vaccinations when registering at a campus. Starting in fall 2016, students would have the option to enter their immunization histories into their personal, private medical charts in the University’s electronic health records system, Fleming said.

If the University knows which students are not vaccinated for measles and there is an outbreak, for example, it could alert those individuals about the risk and offer them vaccinations to protect them, said Dr. David Baron, executive director of the Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center, who is working on the plan.

By fall 2017, the UC is considering making it mandatory for incoming UC students to provide their immunization histories and get vaccinated before registering. The exact exemptions that will be allowed for the vaccine requirements are still unclear, and individual campuses may opt to make the vaccinations mandatory for all and not just incoming students, Fleming said.

In addition to religious and personal reasons, some parents who have their children opt out of taking vaccines do so because vaccines can lead to severe allergic reactions or other less serious side effects in a small percentage of the population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, severe reactions that could lead to death or cause high fever or brain damage from the common vaccines students are recommended to take before they reach college occur in about one in a million people.

However, opting out of vaccines may put children and people an individual is in contact with at the risk of contracting a disease, the CDC warns. Cherry said he disagrees with the anti-vaccine movement because he thinks the benefits of taking vaccines far outweigh the risks.

The UC currently requires the Hepatitis B vaccination to enroll in classes and does not collect students’ immunization histories. The Hepatitis B vaccine is required by state law, but students can opt out of taking the vaccine if they have certain medical conditions or if they do not believe in taking it for religious, personal or cultural reasons. Requirements for vaccinations vary with campuses, with UCLA currently requiring only the Hepatitis B vaccine.

Both Stanford University and USC require students to have two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR, vaccine before enrolling. At Yale University, undergraduate students must have the MMR, chickenpox and meningococcal vaccines and a tuberculosis skin test before arriving at the university. Princeton University requires students to have the Hepatitis B, MMR, meningococcal and Tetanus-Diphtheria-Pertussis, or Tdap, vaccines.

“The recommendations for vaccines have always been one of the pillars of public health and preventive medicine, but in the past, the cost was so great that it made it difficult to find an argument for it (at the UC),” Fleming said.

Since the UC already set up an electronic health records system about three years ago, the plan is not expected to cost as much as it would otherwise, she said. Fleming could not provide an estimate of the cost because the plan is still in its early stages, she said.

Some doctors and public health experts said they think the UC is heading in the right direction with the plan.

“Here is something that will prevent (a disease),” said Dr. Roshan Bastani, a professor at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health who researches the HPV vaccine. “Why would you not take something like that? It’s shocking.”

Baron said it “breaks his heart” when people die of diseases that can be prevented.

“It’s hard to argue that we could let a student get a life altering disease because we didn’t have the fortitude to put our foot down,” he said.

Still, some students said they are uncomfortable with the requirement for more vaccines, saying they think it should be a personal choice.

Lauren Walker, a second-year Middle Eastern studies student, said she thinks the efficiency of the vaccines depends on who is taking them. She added that if students trust evidence that vaccines do not work, they shouldn’t be forced to take them.

Walker said she has the vaccine she needs for UCLA, but she doesn’t plan to get another one unless there is an outbreak of a new disease from another country.

Phillip Truong, a third-year psychobiology student, said he doesn’t like the idea of entering all his immunization information in his electronic health records.

“Doesn’t that invade privacy? I wouldn’t want them to know all of my extensive (immunization) medical records. I’m a very confidential person,” he said.

Others said they agree with the UC’s plan.

“Just from hearing what’s been happening at Disneyland, I think it’s better to be safe than sorry, and it’s more important to be vaccinated,” said Anne Bautista, a fourth-year human biology and society student. “Ashe could help students get the vaccinations they’re missing and if they think it will help, I’ll support it.”

Much of the UC’s plan is still being hashed out and the effects the policy will have on each campus health center is unclear. Fleming said that if the requirement leads to a spike in the number of students going to campus health centers for vaccinations, the UC will have to prepare for it.

The University is still determining whether the regents will vote on this policy, said UC spokeswoman Shelly Meron in an email. For now, student health directors and vice chancellors of student affairs at UC campuses are overseeing the process along with the the senior vice president of health sciences at the UC Office of the President, she said.

Contributing reports by Melyssa Cruz, Bruin contributor.


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  • Benjamin Gelbart

    Anti-Vaccine Movement = Dumb Fools Believing Pseudoscience

    The richest areas in LA have vaccination rates as low as third world countries. How sad is that!

    • lalutacontinua

      It’s not sad at all. Educated people tend to question and read up on important issues like the proliferations vaccines. Doing basic research reveals that our for profit “health system” largely controlled by pharmaceutical corporations and insurance companies are in a business to maximize profits. The disease model that’s indoctrinated by the medical profession should be questioned since the vaccine makers have influence government to the extent that the American taxpayers pay for the vaccine injury cases. This is an outrage that Americans need to wake up about.

    • AutismDadd

      Its a movement that wants safe vaccines and government transparency. Its not anti-vaccine.

  • AutismDadd

    Wishy Washy. Better safe than sorry. well there are millions of indivicuals and there families who are SORRY they took vaccines.

  • wetset

    As a UCLA alumna (B.A. English 1986), I am writing to express my extreme disappointment at the new vaccine policy recently issued by the Ashe Center to be implemented in fall 2017 which eliminates any religious/philosophical exemption options to vaccination.

    Not only is an elimination of a religious/philosophical exemption unconstitutional, especially in light of the ingredients of some vaccines such as the MMR vaccine which contains DNA and protein from the line of aborted fetal cells WI38 on which it is cultivated (see MMR vaccine insert), but to predicate a higher education on complying with an injection of risky pharmaceutical products is unconscionable and an assault on human rights, for it is arguably in violation of the voluntary consent required and enshrined in basic U.S. ethical medical policy and even the Nuremberg Code . Consent is not voluntary if it is obtained through coercion.

    The American Medical Association (AMA) states, “The physician has an ethical obligation to help the patient make choices from among the therapeutic alternatives consistent with good medical practice. Informed consent is a basic policy both in ethics and law that physicians must honor…” (Opinion 8.08)

    And the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) expressly states, “Mandatory vaccines violate the medical ethic of informed consent. A case could also be made that mandates for vaccines by school districts and legislatures is the de facto practice of medicine without a license.”

    Are your students being fully informed of the medical risk taking vaccination presents? Are they given the following facts?

    -In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that vaccines are “unavoidably unsafe.” Bruesewitz v. Wyeth LLC, 131 S. Ct. 1068, 179 L.Ed.2d 1 (2011).

    -The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) has paid out $3.1 billion dollars since its institution in 1986 to families claiming vaccine injury or death with thousands of cases yet to be heard.

    -The Vaccine Adverse Reporting System (VAERS) reports 30,000 adverse events annually

    -Pharmaceutical Companies may not be sued in the event of a vaccine injury. They are completely indemnified by a law established in 1986 under Ronald Reagan amidst an onslaught of lawsuits claiming injury including death.

    -The PubMed database and national health entities like the NIH have published studies linking autoimmune and neurological disorders to vaccination. The vaccine inserts themselves document a wide range of adverse reactions from Guillian-Barr syndrome (GBS) to seizures to Diabetes type 1.
    Pharmaceutical Companies are the biggest defrauder of government under the False Claims Act.

    -The CDC is currently under fire for covering up evidence of a link between autism and the MMR as documented in the newly released movie Vaxxed featuring a top CDC scientist, Dr. Thompson, as whistleblower.

    Furthermore, I am appalled at the mis-information and scare-mongering promoted by the policy statement issued by the Ashe center. I am specifically referring to the assertion that there have been hundreds of deaths caused by measles and pertussis in California over the last two years. In fact, there have been no deaths from measles in the United States, much less California, and though there were 4 deaths from pertussis according to the California Department of Health, 90% of the 8,753 pediatric cases had been vaccinated against pertussis! Please note the report:

    There is no epidemic of either disease. The only epidemic is one of pharmaceutical special interest profit in collusion with those entities who receive its donations and support. Will you allow your students to be this epidemic’s unwitting facilitator?

    I implore you to re-consider the new policy in light of medical, scientific, and legal information widely available that contradicts the notion that vaccines are safe for everyone. Allow and trust your students to make, in consultation with their doctors, the right choice for their own personal health and needs. Keep UCLA as a beacon of freedom and a bastion of sound ethical policy in all arenas, especially health.