Had there been a warning, Chelsey, Erin, Matthew, Lucy and those around them would have known about the high levels of Pertussis in their area. They would have been able to decide if they should get the recommended shot, or just stay away from busy places, whatever.
Maybe if they had known, Kaliah, Kaden and Sebanna would still be with them. But they didn't know because no one told them. And no one had to.
After Kaliah contracted Pertussis from Chelsey, it was too late to do anything. No one told Chelsey the childhood shot she got wore off so fast, even though they already knew this after studying the California epidemic the previous year.
We couldn't get them to do a press release or add the epidemic to their website, after 3 months of being way over the epidemic threshold. They said they didn't have any money to do it and we should go to the private sector to get money to announce the epidemic.
We initiated vaccine clinics, got pharmacies like QFC on board to advertise the Tdap and the epidemic.
We initiated a radio broadcast to tell citizens there was an epidemic and they needed to get the Tdap shot. They came on after us and said they expected it to be a really bad year for Pertussis and it was a normal cycle, though they were concerned. If they knew that, why didn’t they say anything?
We then initiated a statewide Public Service Announcement, getting Fisher Broadcasting to donate the drafting and production of the 30 second spot where Chelsey came on to tell about losing Kaliah and they came on to talk about Tdap and the epidemic. Except they didn't want to say either.
Up until the night before the taping, they said they would not say it. We argued and said that was the only reason we set this up. To tell people about the epidemic and to tell them their childhood vaccine had worn off. Why even do it if we could not say either?
As we dug deeper, we found they do not have to say anything at all. They were not planning on it either. When we arrived at the taping of the announcement, after apologizing for my forceful behavior to one of the top officials from the Department of Health, they said to me, "Don't be sorry, if you wouldn't have done that, none of this would have happened."
I have gone up to the top of every agency in the country, trying to find someone responsible for telling the citizens there is an epidemic, and there isn't anyone. They have told me on record, ” Responding to your specific questions to Secretary Selecky about disease reporting (email attached), yes, pertussis is a notifiable condition meaning reporting of the disease (to the Department of Health) is required. There is not a law related to our work to inform the public.”
They say they tell doctors and schools. They say this is the best way to tell the public.
What about people who don't happen to go to the doctor during an epidemic, and people with no children in school? What about visitors to the area, or people who work there, and live in another area? Would you want them to skip your house with this message?
They have the ability to send out junk mail to millions, yet it is not important enough to them to send a simple, inexpensive postcard to an area with epidemic levels of a communicable disease, warning them there is an epidemic in a community. I had some of these cards quoted and even set it up to send them to 300,000 residents of our county.
It is the only way to reach everyone quickly. Not everyone listens to the radio, is on the internet, or even drives by billboards. US Postal service is the only way to get to the most people quickest. The card costs about .02 cents each, with postage running .08 cents. It cost about 25k to send them to our county, though deals could be made on postage for something like a public health warning.
If these postcards would have been sent out early in the epidemic here, it may not have spread so far. People should know if they are in the middle of an epidemic area. They should not find out after they lose someone to it! By the time they announced it, it was the worst epidemic statewide in forty years! Now we are up to 70 years!
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Illinois - Kaden's Law
Oregon - Sebanna's Law
Washington - Kaliah's Law