San Diego Doctor Advises Senate on Measles Outbreak

Senate Health Committee meets to discuss ways to prevent major health outbreaks

A San Diego doctor was one of three doctors to speak Tuesday before the Senate Health Committee as the panel discussed ways to prevent further outbreaks like the measles.

There are currently 1500 kindergartners in San Diego who are not fully immunized and that number is increasing, Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the University of San Diego Dr. Mark Sawyer told the congressional committee.

He told the panel he believes misinformation is the leading reason behind a parent's choice not to vaccinate.

“All parents want what is best for their children but many parents are choosing not to have their children immunized because they have received inaccurate information about the risks and benefits of vaccines and the diseases they prevent,” said Sawyer.

The Senate Health Committee asked several doctors questions about vaccines and the risks associated with children getting immunized. All the doctors agreed that there are no real risks for children getting vaccinated.

Instead, by not getting vaccinations, parents raise the risk of their children getting sick and spreading their illness to others.

Sawyer said the top ways to prevent this is to improve the communication between parents and doctors about the effectiveness of vaccines, limit philosophical exemptions and monitor the vaccines we do use.

Parents need to talk with their doctors before making decisions on vaccines instead of reading articles online, he added.

“The internet is replete with anecdotes and misinformation that leads parents to think that vaccines have caused harm. What is overlooked by parents is the fact that just because an adverse health outcome occurs in the time after a vaccine, it doesn't mean that the vaccine caused the problem,” said Dr. Sawyer.

Last year, California passed a law that requires parents to get a doctors signature before signing paperwork to exempt their child from vaccinations for philosophical reasons.

Sawyer said these exemptions are made mainly because parents are getting misinformation about vaccines.

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