Minnesota House Health and Human Services Committee H.F. 866 (Transfer vaccine mandating authority to MN Health Department)

Twila Brase, R.N. Citizens' Council on Health Care (CCHC)

Mr. Chair and Members of the Committee:

My name is Twila Brase. I am a public health nurse, and president of Citizens' Council on Health Care. I would like to thank you for providing this opportunity to speak on H.F. 886.

As we've heard, the transfer of vaccination mandate authority to the state government and away from legislators is meant to simply relieve the legislature from regularly considering the latest vaccination recommendations for children and adults.

However, I think caution, if not reconsideration is in order. CCHC is not by any means a noted authority on vaccination data, however, we have kept somewhat up-to-date on the widely publicized criticisms and retractions that have occurred over the last two years with vaccines, such as the possible link of Hepatitis B vaccine with multiple sclerosis, the likely link between the Lymes Disease vaccine and arthritis, and the possible link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

Let us look briefly at the Rotavirus Vaccine which was supported by the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics, even though its incidence rate for intussusception was significantly higher during testing than its average occurrence in the pediatric population. Only 11 months after children began receiving the vaccine, reports of life-threatening intussusception in 20 infants shortly after vaccination caused the manufacturer (RotaShield) to suspend use of the vaccine and the CDC and the Academy to halt its use entirely.

In light of this knowledge, we find a 1999 national task force discussion on the use of Rotavirus vaccine of great concern. Six months after vaccinations began and four months before they were halted, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended the vaccine be used for premature infants, even though one member noted that this was, "Obviously a situation where we have to make a judgment in the absence of data and with a vaccine that has not yet been tested in this group." Making such a recommendation without proper or sufficient scientific support does not bode well for the public's health.

Unfortunately, these task forces and state agencies are not elected and therefore not directly accountable to the citizens the Minnesota. Their decisions can also be influenced by those who are members and who provide them with grant dollars. For example, the Immunization Action Coalition which operates the Hepatitis B Coalition, receives funds from the CDC and the manufacturer of the hepatitis B vaccine. (SmithKline)

Legislative scrutiny is necessary because once the vaccine is on the immunization schedule, many parents feel there's no choice--especially with signs that say "No Shots, No School"--but also, because few health care professionals address safety issues. The February edition of the journal Pediatrics found in a national survey that doctors and nurses frequently provide parents with the CDC Vaccination statement, and common side effects of vaccines, but less than 50 percent initiated discussions on contraindications to vaccines and less than 10 percent brought up the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

There is an endless array of new vaccinations under consideration, all of which some pharmaceutical manufacturer, disease-specific group or public health authority may like to mandate for children and adults. I have brought a list of a few of these vaccinations from a 1999 National Institutes of Health press release (IOM Report Offers New Look at U.S. Vaccine Priorities).

Minnesota's children and adults should not become subjects of experimentation for public health agendas or profit centers for pharmaceutical companies. Both vaccinations and the products of pharmaceutical companies have saved many lives, but as with every good thing, there are limits. As history demonstrates, vaccines can place the public's health at risk. We urge caution in any plan that would lessen public accountability for and legislative scrutiny over decisions on state-mandated vaccinations.

Thank you.


Vaccine Rankings
(alphabetically ordered within categories)

Most Favorable

Cytomegalovirus vaccine given to 12-year-olds.
Influenza virus vaccine given to the general population.
Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus therapeutic vaccine.
Multiple sclerosis therapeutic vaccine.
Rheumatoid arthritis therapeutic vaccine.
Group B streptococcus vaccine to be administered to pregnant women and high-risk adults.
Streptococcus pneumoniae vaccine to be given to infants and 65-year-olds.

More Favorable

Chlamydia vaccine given to 12-year-olds.
Heliobacter pylori vaccine given to infants.
Hepatitis C virus vaccine given to infants.
Herpes simplex virus vaccine given to 12-year-olds.
Human papillomavirus vaccine given to 12-year-olds.
Melanoma therapeutic vaccine.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis vaccine given to high-risk populations.
Neisseria gonorrhoeae vaccine given to 12-year-olds.
Respiratory syncytial virus vaccine given to infants and 12-year-olds.

Parainfluenza virus vaccine given to infants and women in their first pregnancy.
Rotavirus vaccine given to infants.
Group A streptococcus vaccine given to infants.
Group B streptococcus vaccine given to high-risk adults and either 12-year-old girls or women during their first pregnancy.

Less Favorable

Borrelia burgdorferi vaccine given to resident infants and migrants of any age in high-risk geographic areas.

Coccidiodes immitis vaccine given to resident infants and migrants of any age in high-risk geographic areas.

Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli vaccine given to infants and travelers.

Epstein-Barr virus vaccine given to 12-year-olds.

Histoplasma capsulatum vaccine given to resident infants and migrants of any age in high-risk areas.

Neisseria meningitidis type b vaccine given to infants.

Shigella vaccine given to infants and travelers, or travelers only.