Report Card

News and discussion on K-12 schools in the greater Sacramento region

January 7, 2013
Reporter's notebook: Vaccination can be emotional issue

Data shows that a growing number of children are not being vaccinated. But the data does not show the emotion behind that choice.

People on both sides of the issue have been calling all morning in response to a story I wrote for Sunday's paper. Some are thanking me for "fair and balanced" reporting, while others say I didn't give both sides equal time.

One woman said there was a mumps epidemic in which all the children infected had already been vaccinated. She wondered why I didn't report that.

I heard all sorts of assertions during my reporting. One person told me some shots contain blood. I checked with the Sacramento County health officer. She told me. "That is not true." I was told that some children were harmed by shots containing mercury. The health officer said there is currently no mercury in children's shots.

I checked the Center for Disease Control and looked at the ingredients in common immunizations. Many contain aluminum, some formaldehyde - but no human tissue or blood.

The safety of vaccinations is obviously a concern to parents, but it is an issue that can not be debated or decided in one newspaper article.

Bruce Pomer - the president of the state Health Officers Association - has other concerns. He said rural areas are also seeing fewer vaccinations because of problems with reimbursements and other economic issues. He sees this as a growing problem.

Pomer also worries about the governor's decision to allow a religious exemption to a new law requiring parents confer with a doctor before they are allowed to opt out of shots. He's afraid the exemption will make the law worthless, allowing anyone to claim a religious exemption. He hopes legislators working on the exemption will keep the definition tight and specific.

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About Report Card

Loretta KalbLoretta Kalb started her reporting career at The Sacramento Union, moved to KOVR-13 as a television reporter, editor and producer, headed to The Associated Press in San Francisco and eventually returned to Sacramento and joined The Sacramento Bee. Throughout her career, she has covered the state Legislature, courts, local government and, now, education. She is a Chico native and an Elk Grove resident.

Diana LambertDiana Lambert began her journalism career as a proofreader at the Lodi News-Sentinel. She is now a senior writer at The Sacramento Bee covering K-12 education and California State University, Sacramento. Previously she was The Bee’s Elk Grove bureau chief. Lambert was raised in a military family and lived at bases around the globe. She attended four high schools, graduating from Tokay High in Lodi and then Sacramento State University. She lives in Elk Grove.

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lkalb@sacbee.com
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(916) 321-1090
Twitter: @dianalambert

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