Hospital Commissioner Runs Against Infant Vaccination

Posted 7/10/17

"I don't believe in immunizing infants." Bernie Donanberg, candidate for Jefferson County Public Hospital District 2, clarified his position at a recent Jefferson Labor Union Coalition meeting. "It's …

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Hospital Commissioner Runs Against Infant Vaccination

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"I don't believe in immunizing infants." Bernie Donanberg, candidate for Jefferson County Public Hospital District 2, clarified his position at a recent Jefferson Labor Union Coalition meeting. "It's just not right. There's lots of science to say they don't need immunizations until they are older and their immune system is more developed."

Unfortunately for the children affected by this misinformation, there is no good evidence that following an alternative vaccination schedule improves health outcomes for children and lots of evidence that delaying vaccination causes children harm. The reason we vaccinate infants is because they are so vulnerable to disease. Most babies who get whooping cough end up in the hospital. About 1 in every 100 die. The more time infants spend unvaccinated, the higher their risk for serious illness.

Almost 16% of children in Jefferson county entered kindergarten in 2011 without being fully vaccinated. In 2012, we had a statewide pertussis epidemic, with rates of infection higher than any year since 1942. Since that outbreak, public health doctors and nurses have been working especially hard to overcome intellectual, financial, cultural and economic barriers to vaccination in Jefferson county. Immunization has been a public health priority for our Community Health Improvement Plan and our hospital commissioners have been instrumental in furthering this work.

I would not argue that one has to be a medical expert to serve on the public hospital commission, but I think candidates should be aware of and willing to advance the goals for community health supported by the commissioners. As a nurse, I can't recommend Bernie Donanberg to serve on the Jefferson County Public Hospital District Commission.

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