Iowa immunization advocates have recently received support from federal and state legislators. In a February 21 letter to members of Congress, U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Washington) and four House members highlighted the importance of immunizations. At the same time, members of the Iowa House Human Resources Committee have resisted efforts to weaken Iowa’s compulsory immunization law.
Federal letter. The federal letter notes progress from 1963, when four million people were infected with measles to 2000, when the CDC declared the disease eliminated. In a step backward, however, there were 667 measles cases in 27 states in 2014 – an outbreak tied to lower vaccination rates in some communities. Cases of pertussis (“whooping cough”) also continue to occur despite a vaccine to prevent the disease.
The federal letter stresses the importance of widespread vaccination to create “herd immunity,” which protects children – particularly those who cannot be vaccinated — from disease through the vaccination of those around them. The letter concludes, “The science is clear: FDA-licensed vaccines are proven to be safe and effective, and save the lives both of those who receive them and vulnerable individuals around them. . . . Simply put, vaccines save lives.”
Iowa legislation. Because of bipartisan opposition, the Iowa House Human Resources Committee has not held a vote on legislation (HF 7) that would allow a “personal conviction” exemption to the state’s compulsory immunization law. By this week’s end, the bill will be officially dead for this year. By a 2-1 vote, a subcommittee had advanced the bill despite widespread opposition in a January 24 public hearing. An Iowa-AAP board member, Dr. Nathan Boonstra, spoke against the bill at the hearing.