A booster shot for vaccinations
Not all parents thrilled with plan
CLARIFICATION RAN FRIDAY (8/23/02)
A story on Page 1A Thursday incorrectly stated how many long-term, significant, life-altering adverse reactions to vaccinations happen each year. It should have said that the national vaccine adverse events reporting system receives about 10,000 reports each year, of which 2,000 are serious but not life-altering.
---------------------------------------------------------- By Jeff Hansel
Changes might be on the way for childhood immunizations in Minnesota, much to the dismay of parents who don't like the idea of giving their children more vaccine.
A public comment period about proposed changes in the state's child immunization requirements has brought overwhelming opposition to more or earlier childhood vaccination. People in favor of immunization, including most major medical organizations, emphasize the benefits of vaccines, such as the decrease in diseases like polio that were commonplace 100 years ago. Opponents, however, say the importance of informed consent is ignored.
Another such comment period will be from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sept. 17 at Snelling Office Park in St. Paul.
Kris Ehresmann, immunization program manager for the Minnesota Department of Health, said a new federal law requires that parents get easy-to-read vaccination information.
"Adverse reactions" to vaccination -- such as redness or tenderness at the injection site -- might be common, Ehresmann said, but long-term, significant, life-altering adverse reactions happen in less than 1 percent of every 100,000 cases.
But Cheryl Erickson, a Faribault woman who said her 15-year-old son, Chad, was severely injured by his childhood vaccinations, believes vaccination injury happens more often than health officials admit.
"I think it's pretty common. I just think a lot of parents don't know their children are vaccine-injured -- but they are."
Families directly affected by vaccine injuries are changed forever.
"My heart goes out to them because I have children, and your children are the most important thing to you," Ehresmann said. "But, if you look at the diseases that the vaccinations are preventing, the diseases themselves also have severe and drastic consequences."
Lloyd Palmer, Chad's grandfather, testified during a Health Department public comment period in Rochester on Wednesday that more research should be done before more vaccinations.
Palmer said Chad was an active toddler at the age of 1 and could walk and say simple words. He said the vaccinations Chad received made him so sick that he was hospitalized and continues to suffer side effects such as blindness and Crohn's disease.
Opposition groups say Minnesota will make vaccinations mandatory.
But Ehresmann said, "We don't have compulsory vaccination in Minnesota. People have the right to opt out."
Erickson said she would advise parents to research vaccination on their own before getting their children vaccinated.