Sacramento Observer

Vaccines are safe

June 26, 2015

When I ran for the State Senate, I pledged to work to make our communities safe and healthy. Shortly after being sworn in, measles spread from Disneyland across California and the country because too many children were not vaccinated against measles and other preventable contagious diseases. To prevent future outbreaks, I authored legislation, SB277, to require school children be vaccinated, unless a physician believes vaccination is not appropriate for the child.

Vaccines are safe, and vaccines work. Vaccinations prevented more than 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths among children born in the last 20 years.

I am proud to partner with the California Black Health Network and the Sacramento Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women in support of SB277, who stated, “Due to the high percentage of African-American children with three or more health risk factors that cause serious illnesses, it is extremely important that these communities have high vaccine coverage.” As a pediatrician at the Oak Park Clinic, I know African-American children suffer disproportionately from asthma, diabetes, and sickle cell; conditions that would make measles, mumps or whooping cough, all preventable, even more dangerous.

Unfortunately, SB 277 opponents are spreading misinformation about vaccines and the legislation including targeting the African-American community with their lies. They repeat fraudulent studies by discredited authors Wakefield and Hooker that claim vaccines cause autism. But as the NAACP and African-American health organizations stated in a recent letter, “There is no reputable science that suggests black children or boys are more at risk for any diseases because of vaccination… We condemn the targeting of our communities with dangerous misinformation about vaccine safety.”

Thanks to vaccines, very few parents and even few doctors have seen vaccine-preventable diseases such as polio, measles, and whooping cough. Vaccines not only protect the person receiving vaccines, they also protect the community by preventing the spread of the disease. But when too many people are not vaccinated, diseases spread and children are hospitalized or die. Already this year, an infant died of whooping cough and another child is dying of measles.

Schools should be safe from preventable, contagious diseases. As a parent, I fully vaccinated my own children to protect them and our community. As a pediatrician, I educate parents about vaccine benefits and safety and preventing disease. As your State Senator, I ask your help to keep our schools and community safe and healthy by supporting SB277.