Statement: Jettie Deden-Castillo, NP, Statement on the Overuse of Medical Exemptions From Childhood Vaccinations

November 2017

UNAC/UHCP Treasurer Jettie Deden-Castillo, NP, released the following statement on the Los Angeles Times editorial from November 8, 2017, regarding the sharp increase in medical exemptions from vaccination:

"When California passed legislation to ensure school children would be vaccinated, it was a victory for public health. As thoroughly debunked theories about the role of vaccines in rising rates of autism caused worried parents to opt out of vaccinations via a personal belief exemption, we saw an increase in outbreaks of the measles and other easily avoidable illness. In fact, right here in Southern California, 125 people were infected with measles after a visitor to Disneyland spread the virus in late 2014.

"As a nurse practitioner, I believe preventative measures like vaccines for measles are critical for public health. Before measles vaccination started in 1963, three million people would get the measles each year in America and 400 would die as a result. Now we have a way to save those lives.

"It was with great dismay that I read the Los Angeles Times editorial yesterday that reported medical exemptions from vaccination have tripled under new California legislation which requires vaccinations for ten conditions, including measles, in order to enroll in school. With personal belief exemptions no longer available, some parents have turned to medical exemptions for conditions which do not necessitate forgoing vaccines. Medical exemptions are necessary for those who have compromised immune systems or a life-threatening allergy to ingredients in the vaccines. They are wholly inappropriate for children without these health issues who receive the exemption due to asthma, diabetes or eczema, as detailed in the editorial. Furthermore, exempting a healthy child from vaccination puts children who cannot receive vaccinations in danger of contracting a virus, such as measles or polio, that their body cannot fight.

"I urge parents obtaining a medical exemption due to a belief that vaccinations cause autism to consider the case of my own family. My adult son received all the standard vaccinations as a child and now has autism. My other three adult children received the same childhood vaccinations, and yet are autism-free. Vaccination injury is not supported with scientific evidence. If I had a choice to vaccinate my children again, I would do it again in a heartbeat. I'm a nurse practitioner who has seen all the purported evidence that vaccines cause harm, and there's nothing there.

"The decision not to vaccinate should not be made without considering the serious consequences to other children that could result. I urge you to consider everyone's health before you seek a medical exemption from vaccination when your child is healthy."