Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Amherst Outlier?

Wildwood Elementary School

UPDATE 1:00 PM Wednesday

Turns out it WAS a paperwork thing.  Wildwood actually has the best rate of immunization out of all three elementary schools rather than the worst.  Yeah.

Original story Yesterday

If my youngest daughter attended Wildwood rather than Crocker Farm elementary school, would I be concerned about the recent Department of Public Health document exposing immunization rates in our public schools that clearly show Wildwood compliance with state law dramatically lower than our other two elementary schools?

Click box to enlarge/read

Well yes, yes I would.  Very concerned.

I'm hoping the dangerously low rates published are just a paperwork thing and that Wildwood -- with the largest Kindergarten population (57) of the three Amherst elementary schools -- simply forgot to submit a state form on time.  Or that the 32% not fully immunized have at least had the initial shot and are scheduled for the next.

Although I asked school officials last week for any explanation and thus far have heard nothing back.  Never a good sign: 

Simply put, the math does not add up.  If an average of 64% of the children at Wildwood are fully immunized and 3.8% have an "exemption," then what about the other 32.2%?

The Amherst Board of Health has not had to deal with Measles, Polio, Rubella or Mumps in recent memory, but they did see a case of Chicken Pox last year, and a few Haemophilus influenzae type B infections in the recent past.

Considering the threshold for maintaining a "herd immunity effect" to prevent measles is 94%, the two-thirds of parents at Wildwood who did immunize their children deserve to know what's up with the one-third who may not have.

Actually, everyone in town deserves to know.

USA Today data base has Wildwood at slightly lower numbers than state report


Anonymous said...

Just checked the CDC site. So far there are 103 cases of measles in 14 states. Zero have died since 2005 from measles, yet 86 have died due to the MMR vaccine, and another 2000 at least have suffered serious side effects, in the same time frame according to the CDC.

Let's also not forget that some of those measles cases are from vaccinated children.

It's amazing how much hype and fear is created by the pharmaceutical industry over nothing. Then again, they don't want to lose the billions of $$$ they get from the feds so the propaganda machine is at full bore.

Rene said...

Thank you, Larry, for bringing this to light. This is a very critical public health issue. I know there are still those out there who believe that the MMR vaccine can cause autism, but this belief is based on a British study in the late 1990's that has long since been discredited and the study's author was stripped of his medical license. This is a good site for information on this issue: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/body/autism-vaccine-myth.html

Another interesting source is http://vaccines.procon.org which lists pro and con arguments about vaccines.

Perhaps a follow-up question for school officials is since Massachusetts law (http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dph/regs/105cmr220.pdf) requires the immunization of children before admittance to school, why is the compliance rate so low? Perhaps it is only a paperwork issue; let's hope so. But if not, then we need to know why.

Rene said...

Anon 9:07 PM,

Would you please provide the links to the data you cite?

Even assuming that the data you cite is correct, it's important to put it in context: "Measles is still common in other countries. The virus is highly contagious and can spread rapidly in areas where people are not vaccinated. Worldwide, an estimated 20 million people get measles and 146,000 people die from the disease each year—that equals about 440 deaths every day or about 17 deaths every hour." Quoted from the CDC site @ http://www.cdc.gov/measles/vaccination.html

In comparison, it seems like a good thing to be vaccinated to me.

Anonymous said...

I hope this is a paperwork issue. If not, extremely alarming. And interesting to think about in light of the nut ban.

Larry Kelley said...

Double yep.

Anonymous said...

Hype. The sky is falling.oh and while you try to discredit scientists let's not forget the CDC whistleblower who revealed the CDC has been fudging vaccine numbers for years to make them look safer and to negate the negative effects of vaccines

Anonymous said...

People erroneously think this is always about an MMR autism connection. It is not just that even though there are hundreds of thousands of parents that will tell you the day they saw their child change a few weeks after the MMR vaccine including many prominent local people who have sons and daughters with autism. The adjuncts in vaccines cause many issues. Evey peanut allergy you know of is because of peanut proteins used in vaccines. Same with eggs. Aluminum is a common adjunct that causes a myriad of issues in humans. Sure vaccines are safe, hence why the federal government has made it illegal to sue for vaccine related deaths and injuries and instead keeps a multibillion dollar bank account to pay off families that lose relatives to vaccination. Keep believing the pharmaceutical sponsored stories that are telling you your kid will die without them. Why would the CDC have to fudge numbers and make vaccines look safer if they really were? They will do anything to deflect the fact that there is a link. Vaccines are not as safe as you think but it's a multi billion dollar industry that is funded mostly by the feds. Money talks, your safety not so important.


Larry Kelley said...

Let me guess: you also oppose fluoride in the water.

And you stockpiled food, water and medicine for Y2K.

Citizen Sane said...

Anon 9:07 PM:
The fact that there may have been be no measles deaths since 2005 is an argument IN FAVOR of the vaccine, not against it.

There were no measles deaths because there were very few measles cases.

Why so few cases? One answer: almost universal vaccination.

Now that the cases are increasing, there is a nearly 100% guarantee that there will be deaths and permanent disabilities.

Why? Because measles can kill and cause permanent damage. Not in most cases, but in some. This has not changed. Given enough cases, people will die.

I agree that the pharmaceutical industry and medical profession sometimes push unnecessary drug treatment (e.g., over use of Statins and of ADHD meds). The MMR vaccine is NOT one of these cases.

Anonymous said...

There is so much misinformation on the web about vaccines. Talk to your family doctor. The fact is vaccines have virtually eliminated MMR in this country.
A complete vaccination history should be a requirement for admission to our public schools, not an option.

Dr. Ed said...

Let me guess: you also oppose fluoride in the water.

Actually, yes...

They aren't adding just Fluoride to the water -- it's not chemically possible to do that.

Fluorine is "[a] pale-yellow, highly corrosive, poisonous, gaseous halogen element, the most electronegative and most reactive of all the elements, existing as a diatomic gas (F2)..."*

Or in English: It's chemically similar to Chlorine -- the lethal gas that killed the officer in that video.

Fluoride is an ion of Florine -- you can only add it to water by dissolving something else in the water -- historically, that has been a salt known as Sodium Florine (NaF).

My concern is the Sodium ion -- the issue with "salt" being bad for us is that "salt" is Sodium Chloride (NaCl) which releases an identical Sodium ion when it is dissolved in water.

Hence while the Fluoride ion may be good for the teeth of children, the Sodium ion that is also added is bad for the hearts of adult men. And while there are other chemicals used to put the Fluoride ion into the water, they have to consist of Florine bonded to something else, usually a metal and usually Sodium.

Other than irresponsible parents, what was wrong with the daily Fluoride pills that children used to be given? They were chewable and ensured that the child got ENOUGH Fluoride, which Fluoridated water may not do if the child isn't drinking tap water in the first place....

The Citation:

* American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Bob Black - N. Amherst said...

Isn't this a lot like feeding your children. You only have to worry about your family if you don't vaccinate. If other kids miss the vaccine, it will not make your kids sick.

Sure it could hurt society overall if some of the weak or young got sick form measles....but many of them are starving today and yesterday and for some time and we don't make this big of a deal about it.

Are vaccines free, paid by public funds since this is a public health issue? This would be important if you are going to mandate them. I bet many poor people pretend to be opposed because they cannot afford it and want to save face on being poor, which is embarrassing, even if we don't want it to be. If you say your are poor you sound weak, if you say your are following your convictions, you sound strong.

For some reason the measles worry me far more than poor parents not feeding their kids. But that is because I am vaccinated.

Either way, not a cause for hysteria and not biggest public health issue at hand today.

Plus, if your view is that this is a big deal, %'s don't matter, this is pass/fail, anything less than 100% is fail.

Anonymous said...

I wish sane conversation were possible about this issue... But apparently, it is not -- either you are a monster for placing us all at risk for horrible diseases, or you are a tool of "big pharma." Maybe some of us are parents working with our family pediatrician to balance the health risks of our children with those of the community? Absolutism serves no one.

Anonymous said...

All children should be vaccinated to attend school! It worked in the sixties and a lot less allergies. This generation is the problem.

Dr. Ed said...

Let me guess: you also oppose fluoride in the water.

Fluoride in the water also causes lots of problems when one wishes to use tap water for other things -- which is what the vast majority of tap water is used for today.

(Does anyone actually drink it anymore?)

Fluoride itself may or may not be good for plants, but much as it was introduced by dissolving a salt into the water, you get a salt back when the water evaporates. You get some salt -- the Flouride ion has to bond to something -- and never forget that the Romans destroyed Carthaginian cropland by plowing salt into the earth.

It would be a real issue if we were still in the era of "wet" photography, it probably is not good for aquariums or car radiators -- after flushing a radiator (and engine), I'd so love to not have to get the tap water out so I can replace it with distilled water for the 50/50 mix with antifreeze.

Oh, and they are now talking about adding Lithium to the drinking water as well -- Lithium to treat Depression.

Where does this end?

And you stockpiled food, water and medicine for Y2K.

I'm damn glad that I stockpiled 300 lbs of Calcium Chloride a month ago when people were laughing at me -- you simply can't get it now. Not Calcium Chloride, which I;m using on the roof to abate ice dams.

And in 1999, who would have thought that the Governor would ban travel twice in three years -- or that we would be dealing with terrorism in this country?

Critics of the Boy Scouts often ask exactly what one should "Be Prepared" for and it's for anything. You're preparing for what you don't expect.

It's "Be Prepared", not "Be Paranoid" -- but I can't believe the number of people who don't even have a working flashlight in their house. Who don't have a spare house & car key in their wallet, who don't even *have* any spare keys at all.

The FCC mandates that ANY 911 call that physically reaches a tower be connected to the 911 dispatcher, even if the phone has neither service nor a phone number. So I have an unopened $15 Trackfone (with car charger) in my glove compartment -- I have an option if my cellphone is missing or broken.

Be prepared, not Be Paranoid...

Grad Student said...

@Bob Black:
"Isn't this a lot like feeding your children. You only have to worry about your family if you don't vaccinate. If other kids miss the vaccine, it will not make your kids sick.”

You’d think so, but that is actually not the case (and a dangerous misconception). While it’s true that if you vaccinate, you are unlikely to get measles (or any other disease you’ve been vaccinated against), not vaccinating is sometimes not a choice.

For example, some vaccines can’t be given before a certain age, and children/people with compromised immune systems (such as those with cancer receiving radiation treatment) are at risk as well. Herd immunity is supposed to protect them; but if parents *choose* not to vaccinate their children for some reason, they are not only putting their children at risk, but also those individuals I just mentioned by negatively impacting herd immunity. It’s an extremely selfish thing to do.

Dr. Ed said...

I agree that the pharmaceutical industry and medical profession sometimes push unnecessary drug treatment (e.g., over use of Statins and of ADHD meds).

Citizen Sane -- I've seen too many bright young ladies "hit the wall" their freshman year in college -- seen too many of them sent home with a diagnosis (and medication) for the Depression that they don't have not to make this point:

ADHD is also UNDER-diagnosed and UNDER-prescribed!!! Particularly in girls with above-average intelligence.

Anonymous said...

meanwhile, a lot of us would like to know what the accurate vaccination % are at Wildwood...The superintendent ought to have the information.

Larry Kelley said...

Will be updating in the next five minutes with the very good news.

Greg Saulmon said...

The numbers are fairly confusing. If you look at the full data set, it basically includes a data declaration that says, "Who really knows!", and lists a bunch of reasons the numbers might not add up (e.g., data are collected in the fall, but some kids might complete the series after that date).

I configured the full set as an Excel file and will probably publish a database that will allow users to look up school they're interested in; but, I'm having a reporter do some more legwork to help contextualize everything and explain some of those discrepancies. There are some schools that have a 0% exemption rate but a series completion rate well under 50%. It's all very interesting stuff, but it's a set of numbers that's not easy to interpret.

Larry Kelley said...

Yes, I have a feeling that any school showing low numbers will hear from parents and get motivated to find and show the real numbers.

In this case, the Amherst Schools should have done that on Friday.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this update, and great news. I'm glad to know more about how Wildwood and the other schools handle the issue of unvaccinated kids.

Anonymous said...

maybe the other Amherst schools are at 100% vaccination rates too & the reported numbers are low for them as well. My kid goes to Crocker Farm & the nurse there always follows up if a student's immunizations are incomplete or out of date.

Does the district have the actual figures for the other schools too?

Larry Kelley said...

I know Crocker is trying to get to 100%.

Not sure if the Schools do have the actual numbers for the other two or not.

Took them long enough to get Wildwood.

Bob Black - N.A. said...

Wait, are people actually pretending this measles in the news thing is anything else but a distraction from real issues.

Remember the whole Syria news cycle a little while back. This is a "what's that" with someone pointing.....and you looked.

People actually let this devolve to fluoride. "what's that"....you looked again.

Proceed with your pretend concern about the planted issue.

Anonymous said...

Planted issue. Sorry, B.B., it's a real concern. Wait until some 7-month old baby gets measles; you'll be singing a different tune.

Conspiracy theories and blog posters - they go hand in hand.

B.B N.A. said...

I would keep my infant at home and not expose it to the public. Any responsible dog owner knows to do this with their puppy because they cannot fight off parvo yet. Despite this, countless idiots take their puppies from the breeder right to the pet store and then to puppy lessons with others - exposing it to major risk. Just keep your infant children at home and wash when you come home, I do this with puppies for their health, parents can do this right now with infants.

I think ignorance is far more dangerous than measles.

I bet we will not hit a week in American history where more infants die of measles than from being hit by trains. American cars are hit by trains every 108 minutes. There are 44k deaths on the roads annually. All due to bad public policy. How could we spend too much time on measles for a few peoples' benefit when we kill so many via neglect already.

I would vaccinate though, and my family is too. Just not that worried about this.