Statements / Legislation

Vaccines are a matter of fact

Vaccines save lives

Vaccines are the great success story of modern preventative medicine and among the most efficient tools for promoting individual and public health. They save 6 million lives each year.

Vaccines are safe

You may be concerned about vaccines’ side effects. Vaccines are upheld to the highest safety standards and are continually monitored for safety, but like any medication, vaccines can cause side effects. Most side effects are mild—such as redness and swelling at the site of injection—and only last for a few days.

More serious side effects are extremely rare. Fewer than 1 in 1,000,000 children receiving the measles vaccine have a serious allergic reaction. To put that number into perspective: Out of every 1,000,000 children who get measles, 1,000-2,000 children will die.

A small percentage of the population cannot get vaccinated because of medical conditions or because they are too young to receive certain vaccines.

Vaccines defeat disease

Vaccines have conquered some of the deadliest diseases known to man. They eradicated smallpox and had all but relegated polio, mumps, measles, rubella, whooping cough and diphtheria to a few remote corners of the world, until recent outbreaks of measles and whooping cough in the US and elsewhere due to decreasing vaccination rates.

Vaccines do not cause autism

You may have heard that the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella or German measles vaccine) can cause autism. More than a dozen studies, including a combined analysis of 1.2 million vaccinated children, failed to find a link between vaccines and autism. Dr. Andrew Wakefield, who was the first one to report a purported link between the MMR vaccine and autism, was formally disciplined for fraud and lost his medical license.

Vaccines protect the community

Vaccines protect more than just the vaccinated person. If enough people are vaccinated, it is difficult for a disease-causing microorganism to gain a foothold in a community. Known as herd immunity, it offers protection to those who can’t get vaccinated—including newborns and people whose immune systems are compromised—because there are not enough infected individuals around to pass the infection along.

Parents who refuse to vaccinate their child rely on others around them to do the right thing to protect their own children. However, vaccination rates have to reach over 90 percent in certain diseases for herd immunity to work, and if more parents refuse or delay vaccines, they put vulnerable members of their community at risk to contract a vaccine preventable illness, such as measles, whooping cough, or mumps.

You may question whether the decision to vaccinate or not should be a personal choice. When municipalities first started to enact smoking bans in the workplace to protect non-smokers from unwanted and dangerous exposure to second hand smoke, many complained about infringement of their personal freedom. Today, smoke-free hospitals, offices, restaurants and bars have become the new normal and are taken for granted. More importantly, they have led to benefits in public health including a significant drop in lung cancer rates.

Protecting our communities from preventable diseases should be the cultural norm and not left to chance.

La Jolla Institute for Immunology Legislative Priorities

  1. As a vital economic driver that starts with fundamental research, our innovation ecosystem here in the United States relies heavily on the investments that we make in understanding the building blocks of human life. We believe that in order to stay competitive in a global marketplace, the American people by way of their representatives in Washington D.C., must make the commitment of increasing the NIH budget to a total of $35.7B for FY 2017 with an annual increase of 1% above inflation. Anything less than this amount would simply maintain the status quo at a time when other countries around the world are making significant investments in this area.

  2. The fundamental research that is done here at LJI, and many similar organizations across the country, cannot easily be assigned a market value by the scientists working in laboratory. Often times the work is so cutting edge that the direct benefits of these discoveries cannot be felt by the general public without significant involvement from the private sector. While LJI will always maintain an internal technology development effort, the market incentives created by the federal government can spur, or at the very least stabilize, the efforts to bring these discoveries from the bench to the bedside. In that, we believe that a permanent extension to the R&D Tax Credit will allow private organizations to build long-term relationships with publically funded projects and thereby further the value of those initial investments made in fundamental research.

  3. In addition to public investments in fundamental research, there is a growing number of philanthropic individuals that have the foresight and aptitude to understand the impact this work will have on their children and grandchildren. These special individuals, often times at later stages in their careers, should not be capped in their ability to donate their hard earned income to a charitable organization that they believe will provide a better condition for all of humankind beyond their existence. In that, we believe that the charitable contribution cap should be removed completely.

  4. San Diego has invested billions of dollars and decades of effort to become one of the most important hub cities for fundamental research in the United States. The organizational infrastructure and collaborative environment that exist in our region is an extremely valuable asset that should be touted by civic leaders for its success. While not every corner of the United States can replicate San Diego’s accomplishment, it is important to highlight that the benefits of this work knows no boundaries, and we should continue to build upon San Diego’s position as hub city for fundamental research.

  5. There is no doubt that the scientific discoveries we make here can be difficult to comprehend for a lay audience, but the implications of what we do are tremendously important for almost everyone. We firmly believe that if we are to continue getting public support as we have requested, we must also do our part to help communicate our discoveries to the outside world, both scientific and lay.