Yesterday, I signed a letter opposing the emergency declaration and forced quarantine of unvaccinated children in Rockland, NY. One of the recipients of that letter, the New York State Health Commissioner, Howard Zucker, wrote back to me.
I saw it as a cry for help. This is his email to me, and my response is below.
Dear Mr. Zucker,
Thank you for writing to me. I am so relieved to hear that you were not involved in the emergency declaration in Rockland. Nevertheless, it must be a great source of embarrassment for you, as many people are now pointing to all of New York as an example of draconian and ill-informed – not to mention anti-Semitic – legislation that demonizes and restricts the freedom of one group of people for no legitimate reason.
You write, "Together with the Rockland County Department of Health, we launched a successful school exclusion initiative for unvaccinated students in the outbreak area and in partnership with the County and local healthcare providers, administered nearly 17,000 MMR vaccinations across the County - more than four times the number given over the same timeframe in each of the last two years."
OK, the first thing is: DON'T PANIC! Yes, you made a stupid decision, but haven't we all? I promise you can get through this if you just stay calm.
As you know, measles is a relatively benign disease that only a few decades ago nearly EVERYONE contracted and recovered from. Before there even was a vaccine, the case fatality rate was around one in every ten thousand cases. Now we know that vitamin A is an effective treatment for measles, and that number would likely be much lower.
As I'm sure you also know by now, there has only been one confirmed death from measles in the US since 2003 (and a handful of unconfirmed deaths), but there have been more than 200 deaths associated with the MMR vaccine during the same period (the real number is probably much higher, due to well-documented underreporting). I'm sure you are also aware that the Cochrane Review has determined that safety studies for the MMR vaccine are "largely inadequate."
It is understandable if you've been caught up in the media's hysteria over this mild illness – so has most of the country. The hype has been pretty relentless, and completely one sided. So if you're not checking facts on your own, it's easy to get swept up in the misinformation. DON'T WORRY! You are not alone! That's the main thing to remember here: A lot of other people were taken in by this too. Now is not the time for judgement, but for healing. You WILL get through this!
The violation of basic rights (and, I believe, quarantine law), by restricting the unvaccinated (but ONLY the unvaccinated under the age of 18!) from public spaces, will be a bit harder to recover from. The anti-Semitic nature of the ban (which primarily targets an orthodox jewish community, and just before Passover) even more so. But again, you weren't directly involved in that, so I think you should be OK. Just be sure to avoid saying anything in public that might lead people to believe that you support this grotesque infringement of individual and parental rights.
Well that's all I've got. Just know that I'm so happy to hear that your department wasn't involved in this embarrassing travesty, and my thoughts are with you during this difficult time.
Don't give up!