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Mandates for Adult Vaccination Need Exemptions for Pre-menopausal Women, States Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS)

TUCSON, Ariz., Feb. 15, 2016 -- The Indiana state senate has passed a bill, SB 162, that will allow hospitals to fire workers having patient contact who do not provide evidence of vaccination against influenza, varicella (chickenpox), measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis, or who refuse required vaccines. Exemptions are very limited.

These include live virus vaccines, which are generally considered inadvisable in women who are or might become pregnant within a few weeks, observes AAPS executive director Jane M. Orient, M.D. The CDC website lists varicella and MMR vaccines as “contraindicated” in pregnancy.

The inactivated influenza vaccine has been “recommended,” although safety studies in pregnant women were very limited. Most inactivated influenza vaccines contain thimerosal, a compound of mercury, which is a known neurotoxin. A pregnant woman could receive a dose 3.5 times higher than the EPA’s safety limit, and the fetus considerably more, since ethyl mercury accumulates in fetal tissue, according to an article in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.

Thimerosal was removed from most pediatric vaccines because of worries about the rapidly increasing numbers of neurologically disabled American children. The American Academy of Pediatrics supported this action as a “precaution,” while denying that vaccines could be related to the problem, states Dr. Orient. “We have no adequate safety testing for exposing fetuses during the critical time when their brains are developing.”

Pertussis (whooping cough) boosters are being recommended for fully vaccinated adults because their immunity is waning, notes Dr. Orient. “The newer acellular pertussis vaccine is less effective than the old whole cell vaccine, but it is believed to be safer. A number of cases of severe, permanent brain damage were attributed to DTwP vaccine.”

Theorizing that vaccinating pregnant women might also protect newborns, in early 2015 Brazil’s health authorities mandated vaccinating all pregnant women for pertussis, Dr. Orient states. Alarming reports of babies born with small heads began some months later. This epidemic of microcephaly is currently being blamed on the Zika virus, but the evidence so far indicates that something else could be involved in the causation of these birth defects, which are so far restricted to Brazil, she adds.

AAPS is opposed to vaccine mandates on principle, Dr. Orient states. The choice about vaccination should be between a patient and her doctor.

“All premenopausal women who have not been surgically sterilized could potentially become pregnant. If hospitals are determined to force vaccines on unwilling workers, they should at least automatically grant a medical exemption for potential pregnancy to any woman who requests it. No one should be forced to choose between her job and risking harm to a baby,” Dr. Orient recommends.

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) is a national organization representing physicians in all specialties, founded in 1943 to preserve private medicine and the patient-physician relationship.

Contact: Jane M. Orient, M.D., (520) 323-3110, [email protected]

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