Guest Columnist

Thoughts on vaccines, 5G

The Memorial Choir, made up of legislators (including Jeff Shipley), lobbyists, and Capitol staffers, sing from the Senate Gallery.
The Memorial Choir, made up of legislators (including Jeff Shipley), lobbyists, and Capitol staffers, sing from the Senate Gallery.
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I remain as convinced as ever that many of our political challenges result from ignorance of history. It’s impossible to comprehend the present or foresee the future without an adequate and accurate understanding of the past.

That’s why I’m always enthusiastic and eager to honor the men and women that have come before me.

One of my favorite moments this legislative session was singing in the Legislative Memorial Choir.

Every General Assembly holds a memorial service for legislators who have passed away. It’s a very moving ceremony that recognizes the legacy of the men and women who’ve made Iowa the beautiful state that it is today.

This year, former Fairfield Rep. Curt Hanson was among those honored.

As a new legislator, hearing the praises and fond memories of Rep. Hanson’s service from constituents and also from my new colleagues at the Capitol, really highlights the importance of this position and the wonderful opportunity to make a positive impact in the lives of others.

Through singing in the choir and honoring Rep. Hanson’s legacy, I pray I can live up to the tremendous example that he set for our community and the entire State of Iowa. I hope our choir’s joyful noises were appreciated in the heavens above.

We’re wrapping up the final days of the legislative session and there is much to discuss, but first I wanted to touch base on a couple of controversial issues that are deserving of scrutiny.

Immunization policy and vaccine choice

Recent measles outbreaks across the U.S. have drawn attacks on vaccine exemptions and people who choose not to vaccinate.

Several states have taken away religious exemptions to vaccines and now medical exemptions are next. Medical exemptions are important because there are individuals who are immuno-compromised or have other conditions where a vaccine has the potential to do more harm than good.

The idea of self-ownership is paramount. Religious exemptions allow people to live their life as they see fit, and I’ve supported adding a philosophical exemption as well. Bonafide medical exemptions shouldn’t even be questioned.

Blanket policies that eliminate individual freedom and fail to recognize the unique needs of everyone make terrible laws.

The furor over this issue is perplexing, and in my opinion, dangerous. This hardly seems like a public health emergency worthy of eliminating freedom to me.

But that’s been the political response in places like New York City. Over the last couple months, there have been a few hundred cases of measles reported. In response to this, the department of public health declared an emergency requiring immunizations. Citizens must prove their immunization status or face a heavy penalty for each day they remain unvaccinated.

Rather than simply quarantining those who are infected, which seems like a reasonable public health protection measure, New York City has chosen a more draconian approach that totally discounts the concept of human freedom.

To be clear, no one has died. It’s estimated that less than one in a thousand cases of measles will result in a fatality.

At the time of this writing, I cannot say for certain the last time there was a measles death in Iowa.

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[Editor’s note: I, Andy Hallman, sought to find out when the last measles death was in Iowa, and I couldn’t find it, either. Measles cases have become rare in the state. In fact, until two cases were reported earlier this year, the state had not seen a case of measles since 2011. I found that the most recent measles death in America was in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That same organization reports that for every 1,000 people who contract measles, one to two of them die from it.

Before the measles vaccine program started in 1963, the CDC estimated 3-4 million Americans contracted measles every year. Of these, about 500,000 cases were reported to the CDC. Of these half million cases, 400-500 people died, about 1,000 developed brain swelling and a further 48,000 were hospitalized. Since measles was declared eliminated from the U.S. in 2000, measles cases have ranged from a low of 37 people in 2004 to a high of 695 people so far this year. The Iowa Department of Public Health credits the widespread use of the measles vaccine in reducing measles cases 99 percent compared to the pre-vaccine era.]

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I can share this ruling from 2010 though, in which a child died after receiving the measles vaccine. The child’s family received a half million dollars from the vaccine court as a result.

You see, immunization policy is very difficult to discuss because the public is extremely uninformed when it comes to key features of public policy.

In 1986, Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act.

This act of Congress established the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. This program has paid out over $4 billion taxpayer dollars since 1988 in compensation for being injured by vaccines.

This was created to shield the pharmaceutical companies from liability, so a no-fault Vaccine Court was created and given jurisdiction over those claiming vaccine injuries.

I’ll get in a lot of trouble for even sharing these features of the law, because anyone who questions the efficacy of immunizations or attempts to inform the public that its possible for routine medical interventions to go tragically wrong, are derided and attacked as some sort of menace to public health.

But it is my job as Representative to make sure the public understands how their government works and what the laws say. So I’m happy to take the heat.

I’m not even recommending that people don’t get vaccinated, that’s your decision to make. I just want people to be aware that the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System exists.

Informed consent of the patient is a medical ethic that dates back thousands of years. It is very sad to see these medical ethics being tossed aside for circumstances that are hardly life-threatening. But I’m sure it makes the corporate boardrooms of big-pharma happy.

Even if it were life-threatening, liberty is not worth sacrificing because: “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)

There is a lot more on this topic, and it’s something I am always learning more about. I don’t want to be ‘anti-vaccine’ but I do want to make sure that everyone has the knowledge to make the best decision for themselves.

“Those who are conscientious objectors to vaccination should, of course, have the courage to face all penalties or persecutions to which they may be subjected by law, and stand alone, if need be, against the whole world, in defence of their conviction”

Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi, My Experiments with Truth, Chapter 6

5G

5G, the fifth generation of wireless standards, is now being deployed to complement existing networks in urban areas across the country, and in Iowa.

This is a topic that has generated interest in Fairfield, even though there are no planned 5G installations there.

5G is different than past technology because of the greater density of transmitters. The transmitters are smaller (backpack size), but need to be placed in closer proximity.

Opponents of 5G are concerned the new technology will expose the public to more powerful RF radiation at closer distances. 5G advocates tout the impressive and numerous applications of the new technology, and have been successful in removing local restrictions on access to infrastructure for installations.

In 2017, Iowa passed the “Cell Siting Act” (Chapter 8C) creating uniform rules for which a 5G application must be approved.

Among many other restrictions, this law expressly forbids a local government from: “imposing environmental testing, sampling, or monitoring requirements, or other compliance measures for radio frequency emissions (…) that are categorically excluded under the FCC’s rules.”

I had legislation to repeal this code chapter that did not receive a hearing. Now that I am a more experienced lawmaker, I’ll be drafting legislation next session to provide a way for communities to opt-out, and see if that is more politically palatable.

Basically, state and federal laws strip local and county governments of virtually any power to govern 5G installations.

So here is the political question:

Would you be supportive of local restrictions on 5G even if they conflict with state and federal law? Or can the state and federal governments be trusted to protect our health and wellness?

Remember that any action a city takes in violation of state and federal law, could result in public resources being used for legal proceedings if challenged.

If this is an issue you feel strongly about, please participate in my Facebook Poll on the subject.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your State Representative. I realize these issues are controversial and extremely sensitive. It’s my hope that I can address these sensitive issues in an honest and respectful way that ultimately creates human unity and togetherness.

Thank you for your willingness to engage in this dialogue.

— Jeff Shipley (R-Fairfield) represents District 82 in the Iowa House of Representatives. The district includes Davis and Van Buren counties, and the western two-thirds of Jefferson County, including Fairfield. He can be reached at jeff.shipley@legis.iowa.gov.