Measles Vaccine: No Shot In The Dark

Dr. Jonathan Sollinger is a beloved Westport pediatrician — the 21st-century version of Dr. Beasley, Lebhar or Shiller.

He’s got a firm opinion on the current national measles vaccine “debate.” Fortunately, it’s in line with what nearly all Westporters believe.

“The vast majority of Westport parents fully protect their kids with the CDC- recommended panel of immunizations,” Dr. Sollinger says.

Dr. Jonathan Sollinger

Dr. Jonathan Sollinger

“Quite simply, vaccines work,” he adds. “They save lives. They protect the young, the old, the immuno-compromised (like those on chemo) and the immuno-competent. When you immunize your children, you are also protecting those who cannot be vaccinated due to age, illness or access.”

Fortunately, Westport is far away from Disneyland, which has become ground zero for the reappearance of this supposedly eradicated disease.

Unfortunately, it is not far from New York and Pennsylvania, where measles cases have been reported.

Fortunately, Fairfield County is home to some very educated people. They understand the science behind immunization theory, and do not believe long-debunked myths about the link between immunizations and autism. (Or the political panderings of folks like Chris Christie and “Dr.” Senator Rand Paul.)

Yet Marin County is also home to very educated people, who think they have the right to impose their “wellness” theories on others. That’s just “mindful stupidity,” as Jon Stewart brilliantly explains.

Dr. Sollinger says he has had many discussions recently with parents who are concerned about real or potential Disneyland contacts.

Drs. Beasley, Lebhar and Shiller — and many other pediatricians, in the decades since — vaccinated thousands of Westport children. There have been no measles cases here in years.

That is not a coincidence. It is, as Dr. Sollinger knows, just good, common sense.

11 responses to “Measles Vaccine: No Shot In The Dark

  1. Bruce Fernie - SHS 1970

    Anti-vaccers are narcissistic ill informed modern day nits.

  2. Mary Ruggiero

    Or they are concerned,and or frightened parents. Or folks who believe that the latter are entitled to decide what to do. Although I would agree that their fear is unjustified and all scoolage children should be vaccinated.

  3. Our family loves Dr Sollinger! He is simply the BEST!

  4. Great column, Dan! I hope people outside Westport read it!

  5. Glad to hear Westport has a Childrens doctor like Dr. Al and Dr. Jean Beasley. It is a vivid memory when we would run home and report that we saw Dr. Beasley’s car at one of the neighbor’s houses. Yes! house calls, that ended after just a few years. How wonderful it was for families,not to have to take your sick child out to sit in a waiting room.
    No Vaccines then, we all had the Mumps, Measles and Chicken Pox it would go around the neighborhood. We’d even be sent to play with the sick child to get the illness out of the way!! Imagine!!!

  6. I am 100% in favor of vaccinations, and my kids were always up to date with CDC/Pediatrician recommendations. I recently was vaccinated for measles as I’m in AZ and work with children. I had a blood test for my measles titre (I had full blown measles in 1st grade) which showed I had almost no immunity left from 56 years ago. So, now I’m vaccinated.

    On the other hand, I have a niece who refuses to vaccinate her kids as her first two sons are autistic ~~ one a verbal savant, and the other non-verbal and significantly delayed. Her third son has never been vaccinated, and he is non-autistic. That is her “proof” that vaccines are the root of all autism. No amount of scientific evidence to the contrary will change her mind. Both she and her husband are professors at a major university so they are very educated people…..

  7. A. David Wunsch

    The recent move to allow parents to opt out of having their children vaccinated –Rand Paul endorses this — is part of a much larger and scary rise of science denial in the United States . It is mostly, but not exclusively to be found in the political right. The Republican chair of the Senate Committee on the Environment is Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma. He maintains that man made climate change is “the second biggest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people. ” He further asserts that only God can affect the weather. With nutcases like him and Paul in the ruling majority in the US Senate we are really in trouble. It’s only a matter of time before libertarians demand that a dog owner should have the right to skip the rabies vaccine. Shouldn’t it be left up to the individual (and his dog) ?
    A. David Wunsch
    Staples 1956

    • Marcy Fralick

      Many states allow parents to opt out of vaccines for school aged children due to religious or personal beliefs. That allows non-vaccinated kids to be in classrooms with vaccinated kids. Where I lived and raised my kids, Colorado, has the lowest percentage of vaccinated kids in the country — 81%. Most parents opted out due to personal reasons. It is for that reason that I had my kids vaccinated.

      In the past five years, as a 60+ adult, on my doctor’s reccomendations, I’ve had a pneumovax, tetanus, pertussis (working with kids), flu each year, MMR, shingles, Hep B and Hep A. At my age, I’d rather be immunized than vulnerable.

    • Mr. Wunsch is of course correct that anti-vaxxing is a sign of the increasing denial of science in this country. He is flat wrong however that this is somehow “mostly” found on the political right. Though there are of course right-leaning believers in just about any fad, unscientific fads are predominantly a feature of the left, and within that of the wealthy left, in developed countries. Off the top of my head I can think if at least four major fits of anti-science belief that are held much more strongly on the left than the right.

      1.Anthropogenic Global Warming. I am hard pressed to imagine what Sen. Inhofe thinks is a greater hoax than this, btw. The climate models don’t hold up to scrutiny, they don’t explain medieval warm periods in Europe or the miniature ice age of the 17th century, and they predict the exact opposite of what we experience today. And while there is some evidence of correlation between so-called “greenhouse gas emissions” and temperature trends, but the models derived from these data are unpredictive. Climate has always changed. Whether Mankind is causing or contributing is unknown and probably unknowable, but those who think we should destroy our economy for that belief sit mainly on the political left.

      2. Anti-vaxxing. By far the leading proponents of not vaccinating children are prominent left-wing Hollywood types, and both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton endorsed exemptions in 2008, whether out of political expediency or otherwise. There are some principled libertarian objections that might be voiced to vaccination (though those exercising such a “right” can quite reasonably be denied access to public conveniences like schools). Most states don’t allow so-called “philosophic objections” to vaccinating school-age kids, but among states that do, the highest rate of exempt kindergarten age kids, by a considerable margin, is Oregon, not exactly a hotbed of right wing philosophy. Westport may be an exception, but we can’t know because Connecticut does not allow a philosophic objection to vaccination for public school kids. In 2013, according to the CDC, 1.6% of the kindergarten students in CT had religious exemptions. I have no idea what proportion of that population are Christian Scientists, but that sounds a tad high to me, fwiw.

      3. Anti-GMO fervor (or fever). We have been altering the DNA of food for over 10,000 years, but because we can now do it in a lab, the left has its bowels in an uproar. Genetically modified food is the primary reason the world can support its current population. The denial of this, and the irrational fear of food, is a left-wing shibboleth.

      4. Organic food fetishes. This might qualify as a greater hoax than AGW I suppose. There is no standard accepted definition of “organic” food, so it means whatever one wants it to mean. What it certainly means is more expensive food, which helps explain why it is more popular in wealthy enclaves, but it is also much more popular on the political left, and the basis for this faith-based panacea is an irrational and unscientific fear of chemicals.

      Obviously, there are people at just about any point on the political spectrum who believe in one or more of these fetishes, but these views are much more prevalent on the left than on the right.

      • A. David Wunsch

        Mr. Bruce wants to carry water on both shoulders. He, as do I, accepts the enormous scientific evidence in favor of inoculating children. But when it comes to the evidence supporting a belief in man made global climate change he runs the other way .

        If you walk through the earth science departments at Harvard, MIT, Stanford and Cal Tech and ask 20 scientists if they believe in man made climate change, 19 will tell you that they do. I can say this with some confidence as my brother Carl has been in two of these departments and chair of one. If you walk through departments of chemistry, physics, and electrical engineering you will get a similar response because these men and women understand the scientific method and how peer reviewed journals operate. They are not receiving funding from any government agency having climate change on its agenda.

        If you have a sick child and take him to 20 doctors and 19 come up with the same diagnosis and remedy while one doesn’t, whose course of action would you follow?

        It is true that climate has been changing for as long as we have records. But these changes are accounted for by planetary motion and changes in the earth’s axis tilt. The scale of these time changes is of the order of 10,000 to 100,000 years. The climate change we are seeing now is of much shorter duration and correlates with the discharge of CO2 in the atmosphere starting with the industrial revolution.

        Mr. Bruce is curious to know Senator Inhofe’s choice for the “biggest hoax ever foisted on the American people. ” It is our belief that there must be separation of church and state. I would be embarrassed to have him as my senator even without his crazy stand on climate change.

        A. David Wunsch
        Staples 1956

  8. Deb Rosenfield

    While I agree with certain vaccines for children, including polio, MMR, DTaP, I was horrified when, the other day, I viewed the latest CDC recommendations for childhood vaccinations. They start on the day the infant is born with a Hep B shot, and the sheer number of “recommended” vaccines is enormous. I am not sure why any kid would need two Hep A vaccines. I don’t know why they would need Hep B beginning at 24 hours of age. HPV, Herpes zoster (shingles), varicella (chicken pox), etc, etc. Why? The schedule is available on the CDC website.

    And now, the CDC is recommending that young children need not one, but TWO flu shots each year. We all know that for the past two years, the CDC didn’t get the strains right and potential usefulness of the flu vaccine was under 50%. Yet, we continue to challenge a child’s/person’s immune system.

    Having shown and raised dogs, I have seen autoimmune diseases develop early in healthy puppies due to the number of vaccines given pups as early as 6 weeks. Studies, in puppies, have shown that giving a vaccination too early actually counteracts the immunity provided by the mother. Many of the vaccines prescribed by vets are simply unnecessary. The rabies vaccination was changed from annual to 3-year in most states and there is an ongoing study to show immunity 4, 5 and even 7 years after a rabies shot. My 8-year old dog had her 3 year rabies shot in October and ended up in the hospital near death with a systemic immune reaction from the vaccination. Moreover, my 12 pound dog gets the same amount of vaccine as does a 110 pound dog. When thimerosol was removed from the rabies vaccination, the adjuvants were beefed up to provide a strong and early response to the shot, so we are further challenging our animals with each vaccination.

    Back to babies and kids: I’d love to know how much vaccine testing was actually done on day old human babies and what a longitudinal study would show.