As members of the Parent Information Network, which is made up of Michigan’s leading health care providers, we were disappointed to see the recent opinion piece, “Viewpoint: Vaccines are a choice not a mandate,” included in the Lansing State Journal, as it contained several factual inaccuracies and vaccine misinformation which has been proven false by medical science and research.

We would like to address some of these false statements:

“MDHHS advises to only focus on the ‘positives.’ What don’t they want you to know?”

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), as well as every major medical organization in Michigan, does focus on the positives of vaccination, as it’s considered one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century. What don’t they want you to know? Doctors and other health professionals don’t want parents to know the fear of watching their child suffer from painful and potentially serious diseases like measles, mumps or chickenpox. They don’t want parents to know the pain of losing a child to complications from a vaccine-preventable disease like the flu or whooping cough.

Throughout the I Vaccinate website and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, there are many places where it is acknowledged that like with any medicine, vaccines can have side effects, but most are minor (for example, a sore arm or mild fever) and go away within a few days.

Vaccines are one of the safest and most monitored medications available today. By the time a vaccine is offered to the public, it has been studied for at least 15 to 20 years in tens of thousands of study participants, by thousands of scientists, statisticians and health care providers.

A decision not to vaccinate your child involves more risk and could put your child and others who come into contact with him or her at risk of contracting a potentially deadly disease.

“Few people take the time to review the FDA package insert that comes with a vaccine.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sets specific guidelines on what must be included in a vaccine package insert. Specifically, any side effect that occurred after receiving the vaccine during clinical trials must be reported, even if that side effect was reported as occurring at a similar rate among people who received the placebo. Therefore, the vaccine package insert is not an accurate representation of vaccine side effects.

Data collected during clinical trials are given to the CDC to help them make vaccine recommendations to healthcare professionals. The CDC looks specifically for side effects that happen more often in people who received the vaccine than those who received the placebo. Only side effects that happen more often in the group that received the vaccine, in comparison to the group that received the placebo, are listed on the CDC website as possible side effects.

“Vaccines are invasive, irreversible medical procedures with known risks.”

Like any medicine, vaccines can have side effects. Most are minor (for example, a sore arm or mild fever) and go away within a few days. Vaccines are one of the safest and most monitored medications available today. By the time a vaccine is offered to the public, it has been studied for at least 15 to 20 years in tens of thousands of study participants, by thousands of scientists, statisticians and health care providers.

A decision not to vaccinate your child involves more risk and could put your child and others who come into contact with him or her at risk of contracting a potentially deadly disease.

“Most Americans aren’t aware that they pay an excise tax on vaccines to fund a “Vaccine Injury Court” that has paid out over $4 billion to date in settlements.”

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) was created in the 1980s, after lawsuits against vaccine companies and health care providers threatened to cause vaccine shortages and reduce U.S. vaccination rates, which could have caused a resurgence of vaccine preventable diseases. The program was created to 1) ensure that individuals harmed by a vaccine are provided fair and fast compensation and 2) ensure a stable vaccine supply.

In very rare cases, a vaccine can cause a serious problem such as a severe allergic reaction. According to the CDC, the risk of experiencing a severe allergic reaction from one of these commonly administered vaccines covered by the VICP – MMR, Hepatitis B, Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis – is 1 or less than 1 out of 1 million doses.

In these instances, VICP may provide financial compensation to individuals who file a petition and are found to have been injured by a covered vaccine. Even in cases in which such a finding is not made, petitioners may receive compensation through a settlement. Approximately 70 percent of all compensation awarded by the VICP comes as a result of a negotiated settlement between the parties in which the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has not concluded, based upon review of the evidence, that the alleged vaccines caused the alleged injury.

“In 2010, MDHHS mandated three new shots, which caused exemption rates to temporarily increase to over 10 percent.”

MDHHS does not mandate vaccines or the vaccine schedule. The CDC sets the U.S. childhood immunization schedule based on recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) — a group of medical and public health experts. This schedule also is approved by some of the nation’s top medical doctors at the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians. To develop recommendations for each vaccine, ACIP works year-round, reviewing the available data on new and existing vaccines and diseases.

Consensus exists among medical professionals. Every major medical and scientific organization in the world agrees: Vaccines are safe for the vast majority of people and help prevent potentially life-threatening diseases.

Sincerely,

Michigan Council for Maternal and Child Health

Michigan Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics

Michigan State Medical Society

Michigan Council of Nurse Practitioners

Michigan Osteopathic Association

Michigan State Medical Society Alliance

The Emily Stillman Foundation

Michigan Health & Hospital Association

The Meningitis B Action Project

Michigan Pharmacists Association