Essay: Unite behind the science

Disinformation on vaccines is a threat to public health

By Richard Pan

“I want you to listen to the scientists. I want you to unite behind the science, and I want you to take real action,” 16 year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg told Congress.

The same applies to vaccines, as the World Health Organization declares “vaccine hesitancy” a global health threat, and the United States experienced the largest number of measles cases since 1992.

Unfortunately, both efforts to address the climate crisis and insufficient vaccination are stymied by disinformation campaigns. Decades of research have proven vaccines are safe and effective, but false claims—including that vaccines cause autism—have frightened parents.

While vaccines provide individual protection, their full impact requires collective action. To achieve community immunity to halt measles, a vaccination rate above 94% is needed. This protection is important since babies, transplant patients and people being treated for cancer or with other immune-compromised conditions cannot be vaccinated and depend on community immunity.

We have already experienced what happens when vaccination rates are too low. In 2010, whooping cough killed 10 infants and hospitalized 809 in California, an outbreak traced to places parents declined to vaccinate their children. In 2015, a measles outbreak beginning in Disneyland infected 136 Californians, the vast majority unvaccinated or with unknown vaccination. Twenty were hospitalized and, again, the outbreak spread through places with low vaccination rates.

Richard Pan, a Sacramento Democrat, represents the Sixth District in the state Senate and is the author of Senate Bill 276, the new law on vaccinations that takes effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

To protect children, I authored Senate Bill 277 in 2015 to abolish the personal belief exemption to legally required vaccines to attend school. This law successfully raised the school vaccination rates to restore community immunity; however, the law left medical exemptions to the discretion of individual physicians without oversight.

Unfortunately, a small number of unscrupulous physicians, many of whom profit from promoting vaccine disinformation, sold medical exemptions. Medical exemption rates quadrupled since SB 277 became law, eroding our hard-won community immunity. More than 100 schools had medical exemptions rate above 10%, far above what science predicted.

Like the climate crisis, California is affected by action, or inaction, around the globe. In the European Union, where many countries have universal health care coverage, only four countries have vaccination rates of above 94% and there have been more than 44,000 measles cases since 2016. This year, Japan has the highest rate of measles since 2006. The United States almost lost our measles elimination status, which was achieved in 2000. In 2019, there have been more than 1,200 cases resulting in more than 100 hospitalizations.

While measles came to California from other states and countries, SB 277 helped prevent another large outbreak like 2015.

To maintain community immunity, this year I introduced SB 276 to provide oversight and eliminate inappropriate medical exemptions. Without real scientific evidence, a well-funded opposition resorted to disinformation, bullying and rhetorical—and even physical—violence to attack the bill. Opponents are collecting signatures for a statewide referendum to overturn the new law.

The people of California, however, stand strongly in favor of the SB 276, which Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law in September. A UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll showed 83% support the law. Also, a Public Policy Institute of California survey shows support for mandating vaccines for school has risen from 67% in 2015 to 73% this year.

Every child deserves the right to be safe at school. Unite behind the science, and we can take real action to keep our community safe and healthy.

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4 Comments on "Essay: Unite behind the science"

  1. Jonathan Wright | October 24, 2019 at 7:31 am | Reply

    Complete and utter BS … you authored both bills cause you are the largest recipient of Pharma political donations in California … if you actually cared about children or public health you would not be jeopardizing children’s lives

  2. Why are the hundreds of scientific studies from all of the mainstream journals which have shown significant associations with vaccine ingredients and health issues (from seizures and other neurological issues including brain inflammation) considered to be “misinformation”? Why are everyday people who ask questions about vaccines laughed at, maligned, dismissed from the pediatrician practice, bullied, and smeared with the term “Anti-Vaxxer”? Why do we promote and hold as a value listening to parents, listening to women, listening to our children except when it comes to vaccine injury? Why does the pharmaceutical industry still need to be liability free? Why should I comply with a mandate to inject a liability free product in my child when there is nothing else like that, no other liability free product in this country and certainly no mandate for having to use or buy or inject any other liability free product? Why should a doctor have no liability for injecting my child, or a nurse or a pharmacist? Who is responsible if the school is injecting my child? No one. And so far, no one can give a good answer to any of those questions.

  3. Stephanie Parsons | October 24, 2019 at 4:24 pm | Reply

    What you speak of as “science” is NOT science! It is a religion! A belief system! The largest case of medical fraud in history! You can not use the bumper sticker slogan, “Vaccines are Safe and Effective” anymore! The United State Supreme Court has labeled vaccines as, “unavoidably unsafe”! There are millions of families around the world telling their stories of vaccine injuries, describing the very side effects and adverse reactions listed directly on the inserts! Yet you do not want to listen, due to your own belief system! If you truly cared about the health of children then you would be reading the hundreds of studies on the effects of vaccines and the heavy metal toxins, RNA, DNA, carcinogens, retroviruses… That are destroying the immune systems of an entire generation of children! Your belief system has destroyed countless lives! It’s time you look in the mirror and start to question the person in which you see! You took a Hippocratic oath to do NO harm! You are suppose to uphold the Nuremberg Code of Ethics, so we would NOT see history repeating itself once again! Enough is enough with the BS that comes out of your mouth! It is time you defend your words and your actions! It’s time that your religion and belief system be put on trial! It’s time you go to and read the studies on aluminum toxicity, mercury toxicity, foreign dna that is now bound to that aluminum adjuvant that is crossing the blood brain barrier and hiding in the tissues of all the humans in your religious Frankenstein human experiments! We the people do not consent! We will only get louder! We will get justice for the atrocities that have reeked havoc on humanity! How you sleep at night is beyond my comprehension! Statistically by 2032 Autisim will be 1 in 2 Dr. Steffanie Seneff! 1 in 6 children are learning disabled in the US! Cancer is the leading cause of death in children by disease! 54 % of children are chronically ill! The US has the HIGHEST infant mortality rate of all the developed nations at a 6.7! 11,000 infants died on the first day of life last year! 21,000 infants died in 2018! The vaccine injury compensation program has paid out 4.2 billion dollars for vaccine injuries you beLIEve do not exist! As a doctor, a pediatrician at that… How are you not shaken by these statistics? It is time you DEFEND your words and your actions because the PEOPLE will demand it!

  4. Smoking is safe! Oh wait it just takes the passing of time and truths coming out, over decades and decades, for us to realize that those speaking up aren’t being ridiculous. People were misled about cigarette safety, but guess what, they’re gone so they can’t speak up about the manipulating ads and medical community support! Look at history Dr. Pan. Marketers sold cigarettes with sly methods, used images and support from doctors to move their products… Marketers today make science and vaccines seem bulletproof, but it’s the same as it always has been; half truths married with creative writing. Someone wants their product sold to the population as it makes for good profits. It will just take time (years maybe??) to reveal that those in the background, supporting this vaccination “requirement”, are not as transparent as we believe them to be. The belief that these are safe will only last so long. It might take several decades, but just like smoking, we will realize the over-vaccination of our children will backfire. Possibly creating other immune illnesses that will plague a new generation, or introduce some other superbug we’ve given an open door to enter due to our paranoid attitude towards “getting sick”.

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