By Dr Sherri Tenpenny, DO, AOBNMM, ABIHM
A few weeks ago, Ohio Legislators introduced SB121, a bill that would add the meningitis vaccine to the school schedule. The effort was spearheaded by Senator Cliff Hite (R, Findlay), who lost a niece to meningitis 16 years ago. Today, I learned that 12 of 33 members co-sponsored the bill, a bad thing for those who oppose this legislation. It is assumed that lay people will vote to pass the bill, with little opposition.
Even though Ohio has a philosophical exemption, there is no guarantee that this right to refuse will remain intact. With 110 bills submitted in 36 states attacking a parent’s right to refuse, and with the recent announcement that Ohio nearly the least vaccinated state in the Union, adding a vaccine to the schedule that could become mandatory in the future is dangerous. In addition, most parents – and even most pediatricians – still do not know that in Ohio, we have a right to refuse.
I contacted the Ohio Department of Health, requesting stats on the number of cases of meningitis in Ohio over the last two years. They were quickly accommodating. In 2013 and 2014, there were 22 cases of meningitis in Ohio, with only 2 cases in children aged 5 to 19, hardly developing a need to inject children with yet another vaccine. Adding the meningitis vaccine to the schedule is all risk, no benefit.
I wrote the following letter to the head of the Ohio Health committee. I received no response. Please keep the momentum going to stop all the bills across the country. To find out which bills are being pushed in your state, go to www.NVICAdvocacy.org
Dear Senator Jones:
I want to thank your assistant for taking the time to speak with me today. I am writing to voice my concerns about the introduction of SB 121, requiring the meningitis vaccine for school aged children. The vaccine is already available to any family that wants to get it for their school age child. A requirement is not necessary.
I requested stats from the Ohio Department of Health for the number of cases of meningitis in Ohio in 2013 and 2014. (spreadsheet is attached below). There were 22 cases over a 24 month period; only TWO cases were in children aged 5 to 19, both in 2013. Serotype B was confirmed in 5 out of 22 (23%) cases; the meningitis vaccines do not cover serotype B.
The CDC reported that by February, 2008, 26 confirmed cases of Guillian-Barre Syndrome (GBS) following the meningitis vaccine, Menactra, were reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). GBS is a type of paralysis with potentially long term complications. Post-marketing surveillance for a meningitis vaccine has shown the following: Hypersensitivity reactions such as anaphylaxis/anaphylactic reaction, wheezing, difficulty breathing, upper airway swelling, urticaria, erythema, pruritus, hypotension, Guillain-Barré syndrome, paraesthesia, vasovagal syncope, dizziness, convulsion, facial palsy, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, transverse myelitis, and myalgia.
Vaccines manufacturers and the doctors who administer vaccines are completely shielded from liability for vaccine injuries and deaths. The vaccine is expensive, costing approximately $72 per shot in the public sector, and nearly $100 per injection in the private sector. According to the Ohio Data Center , there were roughly 500,000 children in the 9-yo to 15-yo age group in 2013, the age when the meningitis vaccine would be given.
Do the math: Where will this money come from? Even if the number of vaccinated students is only 50% of this rate, adding this vaccine could cost Ohioans upwards of $21,500,000, one way or another. Add in the cost of medical care for side effects? We pay and pay for these vaccine mandates.
This addition could increase the cost of health insurance for everyone. Insurance companies pass on the vaccine cost in the form in increased premiums. The additional expense is a direct cost to the State of Ohio that provides the health insurance for those on Medicaid. The money would need to come from another program, another budget. What program will lose funding to implement a vaccine with so little benefit and so much risk?
I strongly recommend that Senator Jones defeat this bill at the committee level. Adding the meningitis vaccines as a requirement is all risk, all expense and essentially zero benefit to Ohio’s Citizens.