A recent "informational meeting" about adverse reactions to vaccines appears likely to have been held to set the stage for an upcoming battle during the next legislative session about mandatory vaccinations of students.
Rep. Kevin West played host to a recent meeting that attracted several Oklahomans that included licensed physicians who spoke at length about adverse reactions to immunizations. It also drew parents who believe their children's developmental issues and deaths were linked to vaccinations.
The Moore Republican claims to be no vaccine skeptic, but he has co-sponsored legislation that limited access to vaccination clinics. He introduced a bill this past session that would require legislative approval of any proposed changes to the list of required immunizations — isn't that something medical professionals should decide?
While there are a few people who may have legitimate concerns about immunization programs, the so-called anti-vax movement seems to be somewhat overblown. Scheduling informational meetings advertised to focus on the "adverse effects" rather than vaccination programs naturally will attract a one-sided audience.
The reluctance to vaccinate was identified recently by the World Health Organization as one the leading threats to global health this year. It appears to be on the rise in the United States, where a national measles outbreak exceeded 1,000 cases in 28 states during the first five months of the year — that is the worst year since 1992 for a disease declared almost two decades ago as eliminated.
Time reported earlier this year that social media appeared to propel "junk science" relied upon by many people who support anti-vaccination proposals. Reporters at the magazine cited a 2018 study conducted at George Washington University that found Russian bots had been used to spread vaccine misinformation across the Twitter platform and others.
Public health is too important to be so cavalier about important topics such as childhood immunizations to stir up unnecessary fears. Those who have real concerns about this topic might focus instead on the availability and access to affordable health care for Oklahoma families.