Open Letter to the W. K. Kellogg Foundation

November 27, 2017

To Whom It May Concern:

The W. K. Kellogg Foundation sponsored a forum called “Curbing Vaccination Waivers” hosted by Michigan State University’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research (IPPSR) on November 15, 2017. What was the impetus for your sponsorship of this session? The explicit objective to curb vaccination waivers presupposes that vaccine waivers are inherently problematic or somehow harmful. I’m surprised that the forum was not aimed at seeking answers to the question “Why are Michigan residents seeking vaccine waivers?”

My son had an adverse reaction about 12 hours after receiving his second Dtap vaccine (he was 4 months old). His reaction is defined as “Persistent, inconsolable crying lasting ≥3 hours within 48 hours after receiving a previous dose of DTP/DTaP”. Not only was his reaction concerning and stressful–I had never before nor after seen him in such a state of complete and utter distress for more than a few minutes, let alone hours (despite his history of surgery and physical injuries)–but it was terrifying. The worst part, however, started weeks after, when I started researching vaccines and adverse reactions. Ultimately, according to the pediatrician at the time, given my son’s reaction to Dtap, he is at risk for subsequent adverse reactions, but he does not qualify for a medical waiver. The Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Contraindications and Precautions table lists my son’s reaction as meriting a “Precaution” [1]. Here is the text related to a precaution from that table [1]:

“A precaution is a condition in a recipient that might increase the risk for a serious adverse reaction, might cause diagnostic confusion, or might compromise the ability of the vaccine to produce immunity… A person might experience a more severe reaction to the vaccine than would have otherwise been expected; however, the risk for this happening is less than the risk expected with a contraindication. In general, vaccinations should be deferred when a precaution is present. However, a vaccination might be indicated in the presence of a precaution if the benefit of protection from the vaccine outweighs the risk for an adverse reaction.”

Therefore, in a case such as my son’s, vaccinations should be deferred when a precaution is present. This is the advice from the CDC, the same entity that establishes the vaccine schedule [2]. Therefore, as a parent in today’s climate where vaccine-preventable illnesses are largely at bay in our country (thanks, in part, to vaccinations), the best way to protect my son’s health is to forgo vaccines. And yet a medical waiver is not available for my him. Vaccines are required in order for my son to receive a public education. (Proof of vaccination must be presented when enrolling children in schools or daycares per 333.9206 and 333.9211 [3,4].) If I lived in a state such as Mississippi, my child would have only 2 options [5]: 1. be home schooled, or 2. receive vaccinations, which could cause acute or chronic, mild or severe injuries or even death. Thankfully, I live in the state of Michigan, which protects my right, as a parent, to make medical decisions for my children. Michigan statute 333.9215(2) permits parents to write a letter to a school or program, exempting their child from vaccines for “religious convictions or other objection to immunization” [6].

Furthermore, it is my understanding that the W. K. Kellogg Foundation strives to support children, families and communities in an effort to foster conditions that enable disadvantaged children to succeed as individuals and ultimately contribute to society and their communities. While I’m exceedingly grateful for the privileges my family enjoys and as such, we are not the aim of the deeds of your foundation, I am compelled to ask what would happen to a vulnerable child (who relies on public education) if his/her situation were the same as my son’s, or worse? Is reducing vaccination waiver rates really the best way to support these children and foster their ability to succeed and contribute later in life? Who is vying for these children in the advent of a vaccine precaution or contraindication?

In closing, I take serious issue with what seems like an unfounded objective by IPPSR and/or the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to curb vaccination waivers, particularly when there is no evidence that either entity has invested the effort to understand why waivers are being sought. There is ample support for pharmaceutical manufacturers (who are exempt from liability for adverse reaction or death from vaccines [7]) and the administration of vaccines. Where is the support for our children? Who is trying to understand these adverse reactions, why they happen, and if they can be prevented? Who is researching why today’s children are susceptible to adverse reactions from vaccines and what can be done?

Sincerely,

Mel Corrigan, PhD

Clarkston, Michigan

References:

  1. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Vaccine Recommendations and Guidelines of the ACIP, Contraindications and Precautions, https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/acip-recs/general-recs/contraindications.html, (accessed November 27, 2017)
  2. Recommended Immunization Schedule for Children and Adolescents Aged 18 Years or Younger, UNITED STATES, 2017, https://www.aap.org/en-us/Documents/immunizationschedule2017.pdf, (accessed November 27, 2017)
  3. Michigan Comp. Laws 333.9206 https://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(2a0zyfkaaeax4fjih1dgzubh))/mileg.aspx?page=getobject&objectname=mcl-333-9206&query=on&highlight=9206, (accessed November 27, 2017)
  4. Michigan Comp. Laws 333.9211 https://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(2a0zyfkaaeax4fjih1dgzubh))/mileg.aspx?page=getObject&objectName=mcl-333-9211&highlight=9211, (accessed November 27, 2017)
  5. Mississippi State Department of Health, Medical Exemption Policy, http://www.msdh.state.ms.us/msdhsite/_static/14,0,71,688.html, (accessed November 27, 2017)
  6. Michigan Comp Laws 333.9215 http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(rm02nmdi2ogb3ubizm13ilsb))/mileg.aspx?page=getobject, (accessed November 27, 2017)
  7. Health Resources and Services Administration, National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, https://www.hrsa.gov/vaccine-compensation/index.html, (accessed November 27, 2017)

 

(I emailed and mailed a copy of this letter to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.)

 

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