Tag Archives: Vaccines

A child’s treasury of thoughts about David Zuckerman

Hey Dave, I went to the Burlington Winter Market on Saturday. Bought some of your fine veggies, but you weren’t there. Presumably spending a happy Saturday at the Senate Dems’ Convocation of Cowards. Maybe next time.

Anyway, organic farmer and state senator Dave Zuckerman is now a candidate for Lieutenant Governor, running in the Democratic primary and seeking the Progressive nomination as well. I didn’t attend his kickoff event last Thursday; but here are a few thoughts on Zuckerman and the Lite-Gov race.

The most interesting participant in Thursday’s festivities, per media reports, was Senate Minority Leader Phil Baruth, who gave a hearty endorsement — “come hell or high water” — of the Prog/Dem Zuckerman. This was a big surprise to me; given the level of Dem>Prog antipathy up Burlington way, I assumed that area Democrats would stand behind Kesha Ram. Without regard to quality; just on the basis of not wanting to help a Progressive win.

Baruth’s stated reasoning boiled down to “I trust him,” a phrase he repeated at least three times. So, he doesn’t trust Kesha Ram?

Continue reading

Advertisements

Kesha Ram wants none of that anti-vaxxer stuff

Note: I’ve received a further response from Mr. Batham, which has been added to the post below.

Not long after I posted my previous entry about David Zuckerman and Kesha Ram, I got a phone call from Brandon Batham, who runs Ram’s campaign for lieutenant governor. He wanted to assure me that Rep. Ram is not an anti-vaxxer, and sent along this statement via email:

Kesha fully believes in and accepts the science behind vaccinations. She is not an “anti-vaxxer.” As an 8-year State Representative, her goal is to keep our children—collectively and individually—healthy and safe. This will also be her goal as Lieutenant Governor.

Kesha remains concerned that parents opposed to vaccines will claim the religious exemption and remove their children from our medical and education systems. That is why she voted for an amendment presented by Rep. Ann Donahue that would have required parents to consult with a health care provider and review educational materials on the benefits of vaccines in order to receive an exemption.

She is in favor of removing both the philosophical and religious exemptions to vaccinations, and replacing them with an exemption request made in consultation with a medical professional related to adverse health effects.

I’ve sent Brandon an email requesting a bit of clarification, especially on whether she plans to pursue changes in the vaccination law as a legislator or, potentially, as lieutenant governor. I’ll update this post when I get a reply. Reply now received; see below.

Otherwise, okay, she’s not an anti-vaxxer. I still have some concerns, though.

Continue reading

Your next lieutenant governor might just be an anti-vaxxer

Note for those freshly landing on this page: Please also see subsequent post with response from Rep. Kesha Ram.

Interesting factoid about the Democratic candidates to succeed Phil Scott. One, Garrett Graff, is in day three of radio silence following reports that he may not qualify to run. One, Brandon Riker, must prove he can be competitive despite a lack of experience and little name recognition. As for the other two?

They each voted “No” on the bill that removes the philosophical exemption to childhood vaccinations.

State Sen. David Zuckerman’s opposition was widely noted, as he made a last-ditch maneuver to derail the bill in the Senate, asserting that the science on vaccine safety is “disputed.”

Well, I guess he’s right that it’s “disputed.” But not by the broad scientific consensus and decades of real-world experience.

Less noted at the time was the “No” vote cast by State Rep. Kesha Ram. As far as I can tell, she kind of went under the radar with her opposition.

Continue reading

Here’s an interesting fact about vaccines

Earlier this week, we had the honor of hosting a real live ***KENNEDY*** right in our very own Statehouse. Yep, RFK Jr. regaled us with his scare stories about the evils of Thimerosal, a vaccine additive containing (a harmless type of) mercury. It seemed a stretch at the time because (1) the autism/Thimerosal “connection” has been thoroughly debunked, and (2) Thimerosal was eliminated from all but one vaccine years ago, and yet autism rates have continued to climb since then.

But here’s something I didn’t learn until today:

The one vaccine containing Thimerosal is not on Vermont’s list of required vaccines.

That’s right. You don’t need a philosophical exemption to avoid the imaginary taint of Thimerosal. Which means that Kennedy’s argument was completely irrelevant to our current policy debate.

In any event, Kennedy seems to have done his cause no good. There’s no sign he moved the needle (sorry); in fact, he may have turned off some undecideds with his overheated rhetoric. Like, for instance, the editorial board of the Times Argus and Rutland Herald:

Kennedy’s strident language added nothing to the debate. He had discredited himself even before he arrived in Montpelier by furthering the damaging and discredited notion that there is a connection between vaccines and autism. The author of the paper asserting that connection has himself admitted to scientific fraud.

But I think it’s worth noting for the record that Kennedy’s bugbear, Thimerosal, has no bearing at all on the philosophical-exemption issue.

Shumlin on vaccine exemption bill: No, but maybe, but yes, or possibly N/A

Today, State Health Commissioner Dr. Harry Chen testified before the House Health Care Committee on H.98, a bill that would do a number of things but most famously end the philosophical exemption to childhood vaccines.

I’ll be writing about that hearing in a while, but first… After the hearing, Chen spoke with a small pack of reporters: Dave Gram, Paris Achen, me. Most of the conversation was about Gov. Shumlin’s position on H.98. And as Gram and Achen have reported, Chen characterized the Governor as “neutral” on the bill.

Which in itself was news, because in 2012 Shumlin blocked a bill to end the philosophical exemption. Instead, he supported a bill to improve data collection and educational efforts on vaccination.

Since then, he has said he wanted to allow time to let that law work before reopening the question. But this year he hasn’t closed the door to ending the philosophical exemption; he’s just expressed a desire not to have the debate.

So here’s what Chen said today, and it goes beyond mere neutrality.

I think the Governor’s position is that he’s neutral; he understands that the Legislature has decided to take this up, and will support whatever comes out of this Legislature. And if there are other things, you should ask him, not me.

I read that as an affirmation that Shumlin will sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

Of course, it was only yesterday that Shumlin told reporters “I don’t expect the vaccination bill to get to me.” Profiles in courage?

Right now, the House is considering whether to concur with the Senate amendment that would eliminate the philosophical exemption. After three days of testimony, the Health Care Committee has scheduled a public hearing Monday at 5:30. The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn on Saturday the 16th. House leaders could hold a vote on H.98 next week; they could also decide to kick the can down the road and save the Governor the trouble of deciding where he stands.

Shunned by the vaxxers

Was it something I said? Yes, I’m sure it was.

Sometime today, the Twitter voice of Vermont Coalition for Vaccine Choice cut me off. They blocked me from reading their Tweets.

Let me mark the occasion by reproducing the last Tweet I ever got from them.

Stay classy, folks. As your lobbyist Keith (my mistake, his name is Kevin, I know that, I’ve spoken with him often and have a lot of respect for him) Ellis is probably trying to tell you, you’ll attract more flies with honey than vinegar. Or as I Tweeted in response to the above:

And that’s when they cut me off.

Methinks the vaxxers are feeling the heat. The last rounds of the vaccine saga are playing out at the Statehouse this week and next. There’s one more day of testimony before the House Health Care Committee — including a long-awaited appearance by Dr. Harry Chen, Vermont’s Health Commissioner. After that, it remains to be seen whether H.98, a bill that would remove the philosophical exemption, will be heard on the House floor.

From what I hear, the votes could be had; but House leadership might decide to put it on ice for the year. They have the always-plausible “out of time” excuse in their back pockets, and Governor Shumlin has reportedly said he doesn’t expect the bill to reach his desk.

In which case, we’d wait till next year. Between now and then, either of two events would absolutely tip the balance against the philosophical exemption: a breakout of a vaccine-preventable illness, or a continuing decline in childhood vaccination rates. We’ll hope it’s the latter, not the former.

The circus came to town

The corridors of the Statehouse were abuzz Tuesday. Seems that all and sundry were talking about the appearance of a real live Kennedy — RFK, Jr. to be precise. He was in Montpelier to testify about the evils of vaccines and the necessity for parental choice as the last line of defense against the predations of Big Pharma and the corrupt regulators in the industry’s pocket, all conspiring to strap ’em down and shoot ’em up.

I believe that’s the mission statement of the Centers for Disease Control. You know, the secret one they chant before their confidential off-site meetings with their Big Pharma masters. Yeah, them.

But I digress. Kennedy, a widely respected environmental activist turned vaccine truther crank, testified before the House Health Care Committee and also held a media briefing. Both attracted overflow crowds. I contented myself with a quiet afternoon at House Government Operations, listening to embattled liquor control chief Mike Hogan defend his honor. Well, not really, but more on that another time.

I decided it wasn’t worth the effort to cram myself into the Son Of A Great Man’s presence because when I heard he was coming to Vermont, I did some reading to find out what he was going to say.

Continue reading