Letter to Governor Jerry Brown, Re: SB277

Disneyland MeaslesDear Governor Brown,

I’m sure you’re receiving thousands of letters in opposition to SB277. These are two more to add to your pile – one from my son and one from my husband and me.

I’ll begin by summarizing this letter’s points:

  • Medical decisions belong in the hands of parents and health care providers, not the state of California.
  • Many parents choose not to vaccinate because of sincerely held religious and spiritual beliefs. I firmly believe that God does not want us to inject aborted fetal cells, cells from other animals, aluminum, and known carcinogens into our children.
  • To receive a medical exemption from vaccines, a child must first suffer a life-threatening reaction to a vaccine.
  • According to the CDC, immunosuppression is not a contraindication for vaccination with many vaccines. That is, immunocompromised children can be vaccinated. Furthermore, recently vaccinated children post a threat to the immunocompromised, as does any individual who has a common cold, a stomach “bug,” strep throat, bronchitis, and many more diseases for which vaccines do not exist.
  • The one-size-fits-all vaccination schedule directly contradicts the Governor’s Precision Medicine Initiative. Research shows, for example, that African American metabolize drugs differently, suggesting that African American people may not need as many doses of certain vaccines.
  • SB277 will have massive financial impacts on the state, public and private schools, and individual families.

Rally Against SB277Both vaccines and the diseases they are supposed to prevent carry risks. When my son was born, I was surprised to learn that they wanted to vaccinate a newborn for a sexually transmitted disease. We declined. I learned more about the vaccines the CDC recommends for infants. I was shocked to learn how much has changed.

I was born in 1975. According to my vaccination records (which my mother kept), I had three vaccines for seven diseases. I had three doses of polio and DTP in the first year, then one dose of polio and DTP at age two, one dose of MMR at 16 months, and one dose each of polio and DTP at age five.

In contrast, in my son’s first year of life alone, the schedule included 21 doses of 9 vaccines for 13 diseases. The ingredients in these vaccines included diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, Hib, polio, PCV, Hepatitis B, aluminum, formaldehyde, phenoxyethanol, glutaraldehyde, ammonium sulfate, yeast, thimerosal, antibiotics, soy protein, gelatin, and monkey kidney cells – and that’s just at age two months.

After one year of research, which included reading vaccine package inserts, the CDC “Pink Books,” and books written by doctors, as well as countless studies, articles, and personal testimonials from parents on both sides of the issue, my husband and I came to the conclusion that the risks from the vaccines outweigh their supposed benefits. Jenny McCarthy had nothing to do with our decision, nor did Kristen Bell. My husband and I have degrees from Carnegie Mellon University, where the number one thing we learned was how to learn.

As I moved on to the second year of vaccines, I learned about the use of “human diploid cells” in the MMR, varicella, and Hepatitis A vaccines. I also learned of the porcine and bovine serums in other vaccines. My husband and I were both baptized Catholic. The Catholic Church stresses that parent must rely on their consciences to determine the answer to the moral quandary posed by these vaccines. After much thought and prayer, I sincerely believe that god does not want us to use these vaccines on our children.

Our daughter was born in 2011. When she began to eat solid foods, we discovered that she is allergic to eggs. According to the vaccine information statement, provided by doctors by law before administering vaccines, as well as the vaccine package inserts that accompany flu vaccines, the flu vaccine should not be given to those who are allergic to eggs, because the vaccine is cultured in chicken eggs. The flu vaccine is administered to infants as young as six-months old. Infants are not allowed to have eggs until they are one-year old. I am truly scared by the thought of what might have happened to my daughter if we chose to vaccinate.

Other vaccines contain egg protein as well. Some vaccines contain antibiotics, to which my son is allergic. Yet, my children cannot receive medical exemptions for these vaccines unless they have a life-threatening reaction to them first. Our pediatrician, who does accommodate parents on a selective, delayed, or non-vaccination schedule, will not write an exemption for our children. While discussing this, he also stated that Senator Pan’s assertion that doctors would write medical exemptions for any parent who asked for one was untrue. As a parent, it is my first duty to protect my children from substances that could harm them. I cannot knowingly subject them to injections of substances to which I know they are allergic. It defies logic.

Classroom GraphicWhile I was looking for the CDC guidelines for medical exemptions, I found that these guidelines state that immunocompromised individuals can receive most vaccines. I also learned of a California program for immunocompromised children – Home and Hospital Instruction. Because recently vaccinated individuals do carry the diseases for which they have been vaccinated, including measles, rubella, chickenpox, pertussis, flu, and Hepatitis A, they pose a threat to the immunocompromised. Moreover, any disease could be a thread to these individuals.

I had the chickenpox when I was eight-years old. I got them again age age 38. I was terribly uncomfortable, and remained in my home for 10 days. My children were, of course, interacting with me. Yet my unvaccinated children did not get the chickenpox. I got the chickenpox from an adult who had shingles at age 36. But somehow, my unvaccinated children pose a threat to the health of others?

I have recently become aware of the Governor’s Precision Medicine Initiative. I think it sounds like a wonderful idea. People like my grandmother, who is quite petite, or like my children, who are part African American, metabolize drugs differently. It has always bothered me that vaccine dosages are based on age, not weight. According to the CDC growth charts, a six-month old boy could weigh anywhere from 15 to 34 pounds. That is a significant spread. Yet both the 15-pound  baby and the 34-pound baby receive the same vaccine dose. This one-size-fits-all approach to medicine clearly contradicts the Precision Medicine Initiative. And it’s not just the uniform dosage amounts. Some babies may have natural immunities passed down by their mothers. And we’ve already discussed allergies, which aren’t always apparent in young children or infants.

People who choose not to vaccinate or to selectively vaccinate do so for a number of reasons:

  • a family history of reactions to vaccines
  • moral issues with vaccine ingredients
  • religious restrictions on vaccination itself or on some vaccine ingredients
  • the belief – supported by science – that infants’ immune systems cannot handle all of the vaccine ingredients
  • the belief that the risks of vaccines outweigh their benefits, which is also supported by independent vaccine studies

None of these parents have come to their decision lightly. If SB277 passes, the parents who can afford to do so will homeschool, costing public and private schools hundreds of thousands of dollars. Religious parents will form a class action suit against the state. Families – like mine – who cannot afford to homeschool will have to make a choice – stay and fight, or leave the state. Our family will leave the state, and, along with us, our income taxes, rent, sales taxes, vehicle registration fees, daycare dollars, and so on.

Pan No AdmittanceI find it incredibly insulting that California Democrats do not trust parents to make medical decisions for our children. Furthermore, I am disturbed at what might come next. Mandating the use of certain drugs for communicable diseases? Mandating medication for behavioral disorders? Requiring WIC and SNAP recipients to be vaccinated to receive benefits? The sinister possibilities are, indeed, endless.

Our son attends an amazing language immersion charter school. Our daughter attends a private Christian preschool. These institutions will lose our money and presence. Our children will lose a unique opportunity to learn. But we cannot risk our children’s health.

Please veto SB277.


Robyn and Max Chittister


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