Sunday, February 01, 2015


4LAKids: Sunday 1•Feb•MMXV
In This Issue:
 •  HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest (but not necessarily the best) of the Stories from Other Sources
 •  EVENTS: Coming up next week...
 •  What can YOU do?

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It’s a word that appears more often in crossword puzzles than in everyday speech. Like ‘ere’, and ‘ante’ and ‘aria’.
The clues:

Like a pittance
Ridiculously small
Contemptibly small
Pitifully small
Pathetically small
Like a 3 percent tip
Extremely slight
Contemptibly small, as an amount
Annoyingly small
Woefully small
Unsatisfactorily small
Like a 10-cent tip.

Measly. My clue would be “of or pertaining to Rubeola”; admittedly horrible crossword cluage …and grammatically incorrect.

Most of the content of this week’s 4LAKids is about the Measles Outbreak and the Lack of Vaccination issue. Measles presents an immediate, clear and present danger to schoolchildren and public education that dirty tricks in schoolboard politics, the impasse in labor negotiations, the impasse that is Washington DC and MiSiS+iPads (¡Oh Mi!) do not .

Let’s address and dismiss those right off:
1. PLEASE READ THIS: Steve Lopez: A NEW (if not lower…) LOW IN L.A. SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION GUTTER POLITICS | In which the California Charter Schools Association played the race card (at a cost of $28,575) in about as ugly a way as can be imagined. AND THIS: The Times pretends not to take sides while doing so here:
2. TAKE A LOOK AT THIS: Wherein a schoolboard incumbent takes credit for something she really had very little to do with …unless we choose to hold her responsible for letting the schools in her district fall into such disrepair | FIVE LAUSD SAN FERNANDO VALLEY HIGH SCHOOLS FAST-TRACKED FOR RENOVATIONS + smf’s 2¢ |
3. UTLA+LAUSD contract negotiations got public+ugly [], then seemed to stall [] as UTLA President Alex Caputo Pearl took his argument to KABC Talk Radio [] …before negotiations resumed on Wednesday.
4. Congress is sorta/kinda pretending to start do something about Education Policy | NEWS FROM DC
5. Here is the Superintendent’s Weekly MiSiS Update. [] It’s going to take two years to totally work it out; this is the 3rd week of the second semester of the first year.
6. We had a Bond Oversight Committee Meeting this week, the first in two years where the word ‘iPads” was not mentioned once. We talked about building and fixing-up schools instead. What a concept.
7. And, good news: Last week 128 LAUSD teachers earned the profession’s highest credential: National Board Certification - the most in the nation for the second year in a row.

In typical 4LAKids TMI fashion – but with more organization than usual – let me break down MEASLES INFO + CURRENT EVENTS into three categories: ●Things You and Everyone Needs To Know, ●Things You and Everyone Should Know, and ●More Than You Ever Wanted To Know.


• Measles is a respiratory disease caused by a virus and is spread by sharing space and the air breathed by an infected person.
• Measles is one of the most infectious+contagious diseases known to man – 90% of those susceptible who are exposed will become infected. Being in the same room for 15 minutes as someone who has measles, or having face-to-face contact with someone who has measles is all it takes.
• If you think your child has been exposed to the measles virus and hasn't been vaccinated, he can be treated with MMR vaccine to prevent it from developing. You NEED to take him to the doctor’s within three days of being exposed to it.
• Symptoms:
o The first symptoms are NOT the telltale rash – they are cold-or-flulike symptoms and a moderate to high fever and can take as long as ten days after exposure to develop. Not been to West Africa recently? It’s not Ebola …but it may be Measles. Call the doc.
o The second symptoms to appear are Koplick’s spots, small white spots that appear inside the mouth.
o Then the red spotty rash, which first appears on the back of the ears and then spreads to the head and neck and onto the body and extremities. THOSE INFECTED ARE CONTAGIOUS IN ALL THREE PHASES AND REMAIN SO UNTIL THE RASH DARKENS AND DISAPPEARS – about 21 days after infection.
• The two-shot MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccination routine creates immunity in 90%-95% of those vaccinated. Actually having had measles creates 100% immunity. The MMR vaccine in not perfect – but herd immunity (see following) protects the outliers.
• California Law requires ALL students in public, charter, parochial and private schools be immunized against MMR, exception is made for those with certain medical conditions and/or religious or personal beliefs – but a new law requires that even those who opt-out through the religious/personal exemption consult with a doctor first.
• The law also requires that all students who are not immunized – even those with approved exemptions – MUST be immediately sent home for 21 days if exposed to measles.
• NO VACCINATION EVER CAUSED AUTISM. A British doctor first made that spurious claim in 1998 with bogus science and falsified proof – but his study has been declared to be a fraud, repudiated and retracted - and the British medical establishment (and the British courts - where libel and fraud are hardest to prove) have labeled his work fraudulent.
• Measles is rarely fatal in developed countries – but can be fatal or create dangerous complications in infants, pregnant women, older folks and those with compromised immune deficiency. The most frequent serious complication is pneumonia. About one in ten children with measles are admitted to hospital.
• The current outbreak of measles that started at the Disney theme parks in late December is just that: An outbreak. It will certainly spread a bit – but it is NOT an epidemic. And it’s our job to keep it that way.
• The treatment for measles is like the treatment for most viruses: Let it run its course. And because it’s so contagious, you let it run its course in quarantine. And because it’s itchy and infuriating and isolating it creates a certain crankiness among its victims. Probably the best advertisement for getting the vaccination is the fact that nobody in their right mind wants to be isolated in a household of bored measly rugrats!


• HERD or COMMUNITY IMMUNITY describes a form of immunity that occurs when the vaccination of a significant portion of a population provides a measure of protection for individuals who have not developed immunity.
o Herd immunity theory proposes that, in contagious diseases that are transmitted from individual to individual, chains of infection are likely to be disrupted when large numbers of a population are immune or less susceptible to the disease.
o The greater the proportion of individuals who are resistant, the smaller the probability that a susceptible individual will come into contact with an infectious individual.
• Measles has been eliminated as an endemic disease in the US since the 1980’s, in North, Central and South America since 2012 – protected by (almost) universal immunization and herd immunity.
• The greater community no longer has the natural herd immunity gained from almost everyone having had the measles; the community relies on universal immunization for protection. We no longer need Smallpox vaccinations because that disease had been totally eradicated worldwide. Polio may be next. And hopefully/eventually M, M+R.
• L.A. and Orange Counties have an overall kindergarten immunization rate of about 97% - which is very good. But there are pockets of school populations out there where the kindergarten opt-out rate is much higher.
o Obviously the percentage protected by the herd immunity was not enough at the Disney theme parks last month when a foreign strain of measles was imported by a park visitor.
o Arizona public health officials are concerned that the Disney outbreak might spread into the Super Bowl crowd this weekend.
o We must be concerned that the immunity might be compromised in our schools and the most vulnerable members of the herd. Some schools have low vaccination rates – especially among middle class liberal White folks. My peeps - and a vexation to me. (See the article following about Sweden …maybe we should go to IKEA instead of Disneyland or the football game?)

AND MORE THAN YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW – with more following:

"We take vaccines so for granted in the United States," Melinda Gates explained during an appearance on HuffPost Live Thursday. "Women in the developing world know the power of [vaccines]. They will walk 10 kilometers in the heat with their child and line up to get a vaccine because they have seen death."

In detailing the struggle parents in the developing world endure to have their children vaccinated, Gates said Americans have simply "forgotten what measles death looks like."

A 2011 medical journal article described the VACCINE-AUTISM CONNECTION as "the most damaging medical hoax of the last 100 years.

A profile in a New York Times Magazine article noted: “Andrew Wakefield has become one of the most reviled doctors of his generation, blamed directly and indirectly, depending on the accuser, for irresponsibly starting a panic with tragic repercussions: vaccination rates so low that childhood diseases once all but eradicated here—whooping cough and measles, among them—have re-emerged, endangering young lives.” In 2010 Dr. Wakefield lost his license to practice medicine in the British Isles - he fled to Texas where wrongdoing is better tolerated.

Dr. Wakefield had a hypothesis back in the 1990’s: the MMR vaccine or the preservative in it caused autism. He did a study of 12 kids with autism and the initial results seemed to prove he might be right - the symptoms of autism appeared soon after the kids were vaccinated for MMR. He published his paper – but neither he nor anyone else was ever able to duplicate his first results. Irreproducible Results Disprove the Hypothesis - the replication and corroboration of research results is key to the scientific process …but apparently Wakefield falsified the results to his advantage. Five of the kids exhibited autism before they were vaccinated – three kids who were said to have autism didn't have it at all. An investigation published by the British medical journal BMJ concludes Wakefield misrepresented or altered the medical histories of all 12 of the patients whose cases formed the basis of the 1998 study -- and that there was "no doubt" Wakefield was responsible. There were investigative reports and scandal and court cases and peer reviews. All discredited Wakefield.

Wakefield has his defenders. Good people like John McCain and Jenny McCarthy and Dr. Oz – good people who confuse correlation, causation and causality. But good people say and do wrong and bad and stupid things, especially when they are victims of falsehood and deception complicated by fraud, lies and doubt. Wakefield and the Anti-vaxxers won’t allow the facts to get in the way of what they choose to believe.

Urban legend has it that the noise ducks make doesn’t echo. Untrue. And this quack’s utterances reverberate endlessly: The Big Lie in an endless feedback loop. Senator McCain: "It’s indisputable that (autism) is on the rise amongst children, the question is what’s causing it. And we go back and forth and there’s strong evidence that indicates that it’s got to do with a preservative in vaccines." Except that there isn’t any evidence. Senator McCain should get on his knees and pray: “We don't get fooled again!”

And they don’t use that preservative any more.

But Dr. Wakefield’s real victims aren’t Arizona Republicans or T.V. Doctors or 1994’s Playmate o’ th’ Year. They are those who are unprotected and get infected and go on to infect others. And those who are unprotected and miss three weeks of school without even getting the rash.

As parents and educators and a community our first job is to protect children. From disease. And ignorance. From things that go bump in the night and charlatans and quacks.

¡Onward/Adelante! - smf

Transcript for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Telebriefing: MEASLES IN THE UNITED STATES, 2015

By Jane Meredith Adams | EdSource |

January 26, 2015 |The largest outbreak of measles in California in years is prompting school officials to redouble their efforts to convince parents to vaccinate their children.

Sheri Coburn, the president-elect of the California School Nurses Organization, said the push for immunization is “one positive thing” to come from the rash of cases – now at 73 statewide – of the highly contagious and sometimes serious illness. The majority of cases are linked to exposure to the measles virus at two Disney theme parks.

“We continue to advocate for people to be vaccinated,” Coburn said, noting that three-quarters of those who contracted measles were “not vaccinated at all,” referring to the Disney outbreak.

The push for immunization is ‘one positive thing’ to come from the measles outbreak, said Sheri Coburn, president-elect of the California School Nurses Organization.

State law requires children to be vaccinated for a variety of illnesses by the time they enter kindergarten. But parents may obtain “personal belief exemptions” from the required vaccinations, making their children more vulnerable to contracting potentially fatal illnesses and transmitting the viruses to others.

The proportion of parents seeking those exemptions varies greatly from district to district, and even from school to school, as noted in an earlier EdSource report.

The number of school-age children with confirmed cases of measles in California reached 13 on Monday. The outbreak has prompted many school districts to take action, including emailing measles alerts to parents, urging them to vaccinate their children if they haven’t already, and referring families to free immunization clinics.

In San Bernardino County, for example, public health and school officials collaborated on a letter that districts can send to parents or post on their websites. The letter recommends that children who have not had a measles vaccination “have that done,” said Dan Evans, spokesperson for the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools.

In the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, where a freshman baseball coach contracted measles, school nurses and public health investigators last week quickly scrutinized the immunization records of baseball team members and found that all were up to date. Following advice from the Los Angeles County Public Health Department, the district did not exclude any students from school, regardless of their vaccination status, because exposure appeared to be limited.

However, parents have received letters from school nurses and the district superintendent, and in the case of Santa Monica High, a letter from principal Eva Mayoral urging that “all students be up to date with all immunizations.”

Los Angeles Unified’s District Nursing Communicable Disease Control Team has mobilized, with school nurses teaming up with county public health investigators to track suspected cases of measles; five cases have been investigated, but none of them has proved to be measles.

Nurses in the Laguna Beach Unified School District have sent letters to parents of unvaccinated students urging them to have their children immunized. And Oceanside Unified posted on its website a letter from the San Diego public health department encouraging vaccinations and thanking parents for taking steps to protect their families and the community from measles.

Even in Santa Clara Unified, far from Disneyland, the school district last week posted a message from the county’s public health department on its website that was both a call for calm and a call to action. Two cases of measles have been reported in Santa Clara County, both of them in adults.

“We want to reassure parents that there is no need to be alarmed,” the message on the website stated. “If your children have been vaccinated, they are protected from catching measles. However, a measles outbreak serves as an important reminder that everyone does need to make sure that they are either immune or have been vaccinated against measles.”

Dr. Gilberto F. Chávez, deputy director of the Center for Infectious Diseases at the California Department of Public Health, has made it clear that if a school has a student with a confirmed case of measles, districts should send unvaccinated students home.

“That is standard practice in this state,” Chávez said in a telephone press briefing. “If there is a child with measles in a school setting, the expectation is that the rest of the children who are not immunized need to be excluded from that school.”

So far, Huntington Beach High, with an enrollment of about 3,000 students, is the only known school where students have been sent home as a result of the disease.

A case of measles at the school came to light when a parent, whose unvaccinated daughter was sent home, appeared on a television news show to explain her child’s medical exemption to the measles vaccine.

Officials at the school initially notified 24 students that they would have to stay home because they were not vaccinated, but four of those students provided evidence of vaccination, said Pamela Kuhn, a certified school nurse and coordinator of health and wellness for the Orange County Department of Education.

News that the unvaccinated students were being kept at home has generated calls and emails overwhelmingly in favor of the decision to exclude unvaccinated children from attending classes, she said. “I’m getting more calls supporting our decision to exclude,” Kahn said.

The students will be out of school for 21 days, which is the length of time it takes before the measles could appear. They are scheduled to return to school on Friday.

Measles has been confirmed in patients from seven months to 70 years old by 11 county or local public health agencies: Alameda, Long Beach City, Los Angeles, Orange, Pasadena City, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Ventura, according to the California Department of Public Health. Earlier last week, before the numbers increased, the department said that 25 percent of the cases required hospitalization.

The “great majority” of the cases involve unvaccinated people, Chávez said.

The highly contagious virus was declared eradicated in the U.S. in 2ooo, but an increase in the number of parents choosing not to vaccinate their children has led to outbreaks, Chávez said. Parents who say it is safer not to vaccinate their children are basing their decision on “pure misinformation,” he said.

Jane Meredith Adams covers student health and well-being


By Eryn Brown , Rong-Gong Lin II and Rosanna Xia | LA Times |

A decades-long effort to immunize American children managed to wipe out the last homegrown measles cases in 2000. (Justin Sullivan, Getty Images)

27 January 2015 :: Some medical experts worry that the battle against measles has become a victim of its own success

It was spring of 2014. Dr. Julia Shaklee Sammons looked around and saw trouble.

An infectious disease specialist at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, she had read the headlines about new measles cases — including outbreaks in California and Ohio — and decided it was time to speak out.

Writing in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, Sammons implored doctors to get more familiar with the disease. In two tightly packed pages, she described measles' potentially deadly effects and outlined how to diagnose it. She included archival photos to drive her point home: A tow-headed boy covered in an angry rash in 1963. A child's upper lip pulled back to display tiny white spots, an early sign of measles that sometimes can lurk unnoticed.

She knew how badly coaching was needed.

Like many younger physicians, Sammons, who graduated from medical school in 2006, trained when the disease was no longer an issue in the United States. "I have not cared for a patient with measles," she said. "I hope I never have to."

A decades-long effort to immunize American children managed to wipe out the last homegrown cases in 2000. But the virus still can arrive here from other countries and spread.

Today — as California faces its largest outbreak since the disease was declared eliminated — some worry that the battle against measles has become a victim of its own success.

The virus is now so rare that medical schools don't dwell on it at length. Lack of familiarity can make medical providers, the vast majority of whom have never seen a sickened patient, slow to recognize the potentially deadly, and highly contagious, disease.

"Doctors aren't thinking about measles because they haven't seen it before," said Dr. Mark Sawyer, a pediatrician and infectious disease specialist at UC San Diego and Rady Children's Hospital. "Diagnosis is delayed, the patient isn't isolated, and they end up managing to expose other people until somebody goes: 'Wait a minute — this is measles!'"

It's usually a senior doctor who sees it, Sawyer said.

The current outbreak began a week before Christmas and thus far has sickened at least 87 people in seven states and Mexico. About one in four of the 73 patients from California, who range in age from 7 months to 70 years, has required hospitalization. Most had visited Disneyland. Many were not immunized. A number initially were misdiagnosed.

One year before the introduction of the measles vaccine in 1962, there were 481,530 reported cases nationwide, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,

In 2004, there were 37.


Measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. in 2000, and many younger doctors have never seen an infected patient. The virus can lead to complications such as pneumonia, inflammation of the brain and even death. A delayed diagnosis can allow the highly contagious disease to spread.

• Initial symptoms can be similar to other illnesses:A cough, runny nose, redness of eyes and a fever as high as 106 degrees.

• White lesions called Koplik spots can appear in the cheek a day or two before the measles rash begins.

• A rash appears about two to four days after the first symptoms, beginning at the head and spreading to the rest of the body. Health officials say patients are usually contagious during the four days before and the four days after the rash erupts.

There is an image of the rash here: | Source: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Annals of Internal Medicine

Aspiring physicians still learn about the virus in medical school, but they read up on its biology and symptoms at the same time as they're being introduced to a multitude of illnesses they're far more likely to encounter.

"It's not something you spend a great deal of time on at all, for obvious reasons," said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

Schaffner said he thought the Disneyland outbreak — and the pockets of undervaccinated children that have fueled it — might lead medical schools to increase their emphasis on teaching measles. But the latest generation of doctors still won't get hands-on experience.

"In the bad old days, any grandmother could walk past a child with measles and say, 'That's a child with measles,'" Schaffner said. "It's pattern recognition. And if you haven't seen it before, it can be puzzling."

With measles in particular, which can resemble many other illnesses in its early stages, seeing is understanding, said doctors who had treated afflicted patients. Textbook pictures can't fully convey what the signature rash looks like. Infected kids are uniquely irritable.

"There's a miserableness quotient," said Dr. Paul Offit, a pediatrician and outspoken immunization proponent. "You can read about it, but there's nothing like seeing it."

Sawyer said he recently asked a group of pediatric residents whether they had ever seen measles. None raised their hands.

It's a problem, Sawyer said, because the virus is so contagious.

"There are a lot of infectious diseases physicians don't see in training, but most don't have the same consequences if you miss it for a little bit," he said. "The problem with measles is, if you miss it, you put people at risk."

More than 90% of people who don't have immunity to measles — either through vaccination or from having had the disease — will get sick if exposed to the virus, which can survive for up to two hours in the air.

Dr. James Cherry, a UCLA research professor and principal editor of the Textbook of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, said it was important for physicians to remember that fever, cough and runny nose are initial signs of measles. About two days after those symptoms begin, white lesions known as Koplik spots emerge inside the cheek. Only later does the rash appear.

Officials at the Orange County Health Care Agency and the California Department of Public Health said they were working hard to make sure doctors knew what to look for to make a measles diagnosis and to keep providers updated on the current outbreak.

This isn't the first time California physicians have had to educate themselves about measles, said Dr. James Watt, chief of the division of communicable disease control of the state public health agency.

Watt was a pediatrician in training during the outbreak of 1989-1991.

"What I remember very vividly was that all over the hospital there were signs that said, 'Think measles.' There were pictures of children with measles," he said, as well as placards reminding doctors of key symptoms.

Dr. Deborah Lehman, a pediatric epidemiologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, said she first encountered the illness during the late 1980s outbreak, when she was in training at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

Two sisters came to the hospital in the middle of the night suffering from symptoms that she and her colleagues thought must be meningitis.

"Measles was the furthest thing from my mind," she said.

A seasoned pediatrician arrived at the children's bedside in the morning.

He made the correct diagnosis right away.

Lauren Whaley/CHCF Center for Health Reporting and Rebecca Plevin, KPCC – 89.3 |

Audio from this story: 4:39 Listen |

January 29 2015 :: Sara Martín is not against vaccinations. But that didn’t make it any easier to cart her two young kids on two buses from East Los Angeles to a downtown clinic to get their required immunizations.

"Somewhere when they became toddlers I started to fall a little behind on the vaccinations," says Martín, 29. "Not intentionally, just that’s kind of how it happened for me."

Martín’s children, 3 years old and 18 months, are now up to date.

But 20 percent of children entering Los Angeles Unified School District kindergartens are not.

With 79 confirmed cases of measles in California as of Wednesday and a 2014 statewide pertussis (whooping cough) epidemic with more than 10,000 cases and two infant deaths, public attention has focused on the controversial Personal Belief Exemptions, which allow parents to refuse to vaccinate their children.

But experts say under-vaccination may also be a pressing problem.

The state requires kindergartners to be up to date on immunizations for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis; measles, mumps, rubella; polio; hepatitis B and chickenpox. Most require multiple doses given at specific intervals.

State law allows incoming kindergartners who have received at least one dose of each required vaccine, but are not up to date, state law allows schools to accept them as to enter school as "conditional entrants."

Then it’s up to the school to notify a family when a "conditional" kid’s next shot is due. But, this doesn’t always happen.

"It’s a challenge when you’re busy during the school day, and the days roll by, and then three months later you realize you have a student who you missed notifying them and the parent forgot," says Tonya Ross, Director of District Nursing Services. "And that happens all the time."

In some L.A. Unified schools, 60, 70, and even 80 percent of incoming kindergartners were enrolled conditionally in the 2013-14 school year. The District says it is unable to report how many of those students ended up fully vaccinated by the end of the school year.

"Once they’re in, if there’s no nurse there tracking that, it may flag on a system but there’s really no one looking at that," says Ross, citing the lack of school nurses as a barrier for tracking students’ immunizations. "So it’s very difficult to get those kids the follow-up, the appropriate follow-up."

This year’s numbers are even higher than last year’s. State numbers show 97 percent of Dolores Street Elementary’s 133 kindergartners entered this school year on a conditional basis, closely followed by 94 percent "conditionals" out of 141 incoming students at George de la Torre Jr. Elementary. Dr. James Edward Jones Primary Center, Lenicia B. Weemes Elementary and Raymond Avenue Elementary each had 92 percent of their kindergarteners entering conditionally this year.

For its part, the state requires schools to report their rates in the fall, but there is no additional reporting requirement, though it randomly audits about 3 percent of kindergartens every third spring. In 2011, the most recent available review, the conditional rates in the 286 audited kindergartens declined from 6 percent in the fall to 3 percent in the spring.

The state is not tracking the conditionals, either. And while state law requires schools to track conditional entrants and exclude those who don’t get fully vaccinated, schools don’t risk any sanctions for failing on either of those fronts.

When discussing vaccine-preventable diseases, experts often talk about "herd immunity." A certain threshold of immunized people — over 90 percent of the population — will keep those who are unvaccinated largely safe from disease. Those who are too young or too frail to receive vaccines must rely on the inoculated to keep them safe.

In fact, add conditionals and Personal Belief Exemptions to those who have permanent medical exemptions from vaccinations, and the average California elementary school begins classes with nearly 10 percent of its kindergartners un- or under-vaccinated.

This issue came as a surprise to LAUSD school board member Bennett Kayser.

"I mean, if there really is an issue as you’ve described, and there are many kids who have inadequate vaccinations — that can spread throughout their classroom, throughout the school," he says. "There’s a lot to worry about with that if it isn’t working properly."

Kayser believes the problem can be easily solved.

"It shouldn’t be difficult to generate a report that says who’s needed a booster shot for the longer period of time, and sort the list of students who are still in need of boosters," he says.

Under-vaccinated children are not found only at the LAUSD. Los Angeles County had a conditional entrant rate of 12.3 percent, almost double California’s 6.9 percent. In Northern California, Alameda County also stands out: 9.7 percent of its students entered kindergarten on a conditional basis this school year.

This issue worries Dr. Richard Pan, a pediatrician and state senator (D-Sacramento) who sits on the senate health committee and who sponsored last year’s legislation requiring parents opposed to vaccinations to have a conversation with their care provider before enrolling their unvaccinated child in school.

"It certainly is a public health problem, because you have people who are under-vaccinated," says the senator, who plans to introduce more legislation this year to require schools to provide parents with statistics on their students’ vaccination status.

The senator says he supports increased funding for school nurses, so they have the ability to ensure that all kids get vaccinated.

Tracking whether students get fully vaccinated "is something that’s been falling by the wayside," says Pan, who adds, "We need to focus on that again."

This story was the result of a collaboration between KPCC and the California Healthcare Foundation's Center for Health Reporting.


Letters to the Editor of the LA Times |

Published Sunday, 1 Feb, 2015

To the editor: Patt Morrison's interview with anti-vaccination apologist Elena Conis exposes the irrational thinking that drives this dangerous movement. Although it is obvious that the increasing numbers of unvaccinated children contribute to the current measles epidemic, she instead concludes that "smaller outbreaks like this one have proven how hard it is to keep measles under control via vaccination." ("Historian Elena Conis takes a look at decades of vaccination skepticism," Op-Ed, Jan. 27 |

Conis complains that "we reflexively blame outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases on supposedly irrational anti-vaccinationists." Then, speaking of science, she says that we "tend to grant it the benefit of the doubt. But there's an argument for giving weight to emotion and intuition."

Here's a definition for "rational" from Webster's dictionary: "Based on facts or reason and not emotions or feelings."

Steve Auer, MD, Malibu


To the editor: I am proud to say that I am on the autism spectrum. I would also like to say how I feel about what many people are saying about the false claim that the measles vaccine is connected to rising rates of autism: I think it's an insult to the many people who have autism.

The measles, mumps and rubella vaccine does not cause autism in any way. Even if it did, the parents who refuse to inoculate their children are saying that they care more about what others think of them than they care about their children's health. I care more about the health of others than I care about what others say about me.

Autistic people are often granted gifts, such as a good memory for facts. Many people on the spectrum are very intelligent. I suggest everyone should get vaccinated and see that it causes nothing but better health.

Elizabeth Finnegan, South Pasadena


To the editor: One letter writer blames vaccine skepticism on what he depicts as well-earned distrust of the medical community.

On the contrary, I believe this distrust is based on the widespread mythology that in the "good old days" — before chemical food additives, genetically modified food, insecticides and air pollution, and with freedom from vaccinations except for smallpox — people lived natural lives and thrived in good health.

The facts contradict this utopian picture.

In 1900, before all these modern interventions, American life expectancy was 47 years. Thanks to medical progress, and in spite of modern hazards, our life expectancy has now increased to nearly 80 years.

The medical community is not perfect, but instead of receiving credit for this increase in life span, modern medicine is distrusted as tampering with intrinsically good, natural processes.

Cyril Barnert, MD, Los Angeles

By Joyce Hackel, From PRI's The World |

Thu January 29, 2015 | 4:43 pm :: The measles outbreak that apparently had its start at Disneyland is leaping borders every day. There are more than 90 cases so far, reaching beyond California to at least six other US states as well as Mexico.

Yes, there's a measles shot, but in recent years, more Americans aren't getting the vaccination that provides coverage for measles, mumps and German measles, also known as rubella. In some areas of California, 13 percent of young children haven't been immunized. Compare that with a place like Sweden, where vaccination coverage is estimated to include all but 5 percent of the entire population.

That's because Swedes show up for all sorts of optional immunizations in droves, providing the sort of "herd immunity" that Americans can only envy.

Elizabeth Bruenig, a staff writer at The New Republic, says in her article DON’T BLAME ANTI-VAXXERS FOR MEASLES OUTBREAK, BLAME AMERICAN CULTURE | that Swedes tend to approach vaccination campaigns very differently than Americans do. "When I think about my flu shot every year, and whether or not I really want to go through getting the needle in the arm, I'm generally thinking about my own health: Do I want to sick this year?" Bruenig says. "In Sweden, it's very common to think of vaccines as something that you do because you're going to be in contact with people who are vulnerable to illness. It's a way of protecting them."

Those vulnerable groups include the elderly, children who are too young to be vaccinated and the immuno-compromised such as people going through chemo-therapy, or those with HIV and AIDS. Others turn out to be at risk because the measles vaccine isn't 100 percent effective for everyone who receives it.

Measles is a high contagious respiratory disease. Authorities thought they had defeated it in within US borders in 1982, but new outbreaks are on the rise. Most of these new infections are people who haven't been immunized because more and more parents are accepting as fact misconceptions about the supposed dangers of vaccinations.

Those myths are apparently not so persuasive to Swedes.

Bruenig says when Swedish parents think about getting their children immunized, they act because "it's something that we do where we all use our bodies sort of as human shields for people whose bodies just don't have the capacity to be vaccinated or to withstand these diseases."

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Scott Folsom is a parent leader in LAUSD and was Parent/Volunteer of the Year for 2010-11 for Los Angeles County. • He is Past President of Los Angeles Tenth District PTSA and has represented PTA on the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee for over 12 years. He is a Health Commissioner, Legislation Team member and a member of the Board of Managers of the California State PTA. He serves on numerous school district advisory and policy committees and has served as a PTA officer and governance council member at three LAUSD schools. He is the recipient of the UTLA/AFT "WHO" Gold Award and the ACSA Regional Ferd Kiesel Memorial Distinguished Service Award - honors he hopes to someday deserve. • In this forum his opinions are his own and your opinions and feedback are invited. Quoted and/or cited content copyright © the original author and/or publisher. All other material copyright © 4LAKids.
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