Dear NYS Legislators,
I am a pediatrician who has been advocating for a bill in the NYS legislature that would allow only medical exemptions to vaccination. I have heard from staffers of various Assembly offices that legislators are not hearing from the parents of children with cancer to express support for the bill. I write this letter for them.
I have been in general pediatric practice for 20 years but the most painful and heart wrenching patient experiences I can recall are those from my days as a resident rotating through the hematology oncology unit. I remember the patients. I remember the parents. I can assure you that although they would likely support this legislation 1000% they are probably not remotely aware of its existence. They are shuttling their children to and from the hospital. Even between chemotherapy treatments they often have to rush their children to the hospital in the middle of the night. If these children develop even a low grade fever of 100.4 they need emergent bloodwork and IV antibiotics because they are so susceptible to infection. They are treating their children’s discomfort, supporting them emotionally and attending to the needs of their other children. They are wondering about their jobs and how they will pay the bills. They are in a cycle of worry, fear, pain and exhaustion that typically lasts for several years.
The light at the end of the tunnel is when their children can return to school and learn and play alongside their peers. But they are not there yet. They cannot begin to take on the very real and growing concern that after conquering cancer their child may be exposed to a disease that could kill them. That after the miracle of modern medicine has saved them, ironically they could succumb to a disease that was eliminated 20 years ago, also through the miracle of modern medicine.
So forgive these parents if they do not have the time to call you, the wherewithal to make this a priority on their long daily to do list. Excuse them if they are not tuned in to state politics and don’t seem to have the time and the organization of the anti-vaccine community to share their incredibly compelling stories.
You as legislators must be their voice. You have the responsibility to protect them and the most vulnerable among us – including the children through no fault of their own are at risk of contracting measles because their parents choose not to protect them.
You have the responsibility to protect the public health of all New Yorkers, especially the most vulnerable among them . I implore you to support and pass A.02371 /S.2994 which will provide the protection that New York’s children need and deserve .
Dr. Eve Krief
NY Chapter 2 American Academy of Pediatrics