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Letters: California's vaccine phobia

August 13, 2013
  • Children in 1957 receive polio vaccine shots.
Children in 1957 receive polio vaccine shots. (Los Angeles Times )

Re "Take your shots, L.A.," Opinion, Aug. 11

Dr. Nina Shapiro is right on in lamenting the sorry state of childhood immunization in California because of the state's misguided "personal beliefs" opt-out provision. "Personal beliefs " are little consolation for the parent who needlessly loses a child to whooping cough, measles encephalitis or bacterial meningitis.

Shapiro could also have emphasized the ironic paradox that California — among the bluest of states, with excellent educational, environmental and social programs and top-notch state, county and city health department resources — ranks among the lowest of the states in enforcement of child immunization.

In most states, opting out requires physician documentation of a specific medical reason not to vaccinate, which is thankfully very rare. But health departments in California are hamstrung by the "personal beliefs" clause.

Concerned citizens should insist that our Legislature wake up and allow health and education officials to do their job in enforcing scientifically and medically proven immunization programs.

Lauri D. Thrupp, MD

Santa Ana

The writer is a professor emeritus at UC Irvine's medical school specializing in infectious disease.

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