Sacramento Bee Examines Controversy over Mandatory Hepatitis A Vaccination Bill
The Sacramento Bee yesterday examined the controversy over an Assembly-passed bill (AB 915) that would require children in seven southern California counties with large Latino populations to receive hepatitis A vaccinations before they enter kindergarten. The bill, introduced last year by Assembly member Dario Frommer (D-Glendale), would require hepatitis A vaccination for children in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Ventura and Imperial counties. Supporters of the bill cite a study conducted by the UCLA Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture that found "epidemic rates" of the virus among Latino children in southern California to lobby state lawmakers to pass the legislation. The study, which averaged the hepatitis A rates in a five-county area between 1996 and 2000, found an infection rate of 36 cases per 100,000 Latino children younger than age 14. The CDC recommends routine vaccination for hepatitis A in states with an infection rate of 20 per 100,000 children, the Bee reports. However, according to a Department of Health Services study, the five counties had an infection rate of nine cases per 100,000 Latino children in 2001. Dr. David Hayes-Bautista, director of the UCLA center, said that a difference in the methodology of the two studies led to the difference in results.
According to the Bee, questions have arisen over whether GlaxoSmithKline, which manufactures hepatitis A vaccine and funded the $50,000 UCLA study, may have "influenced" the results. In the past, GSK has twice sponsored failed mandatory vaccination legislation in the state, and the drug maker this year contributed $20,000 to the Latino Issues Forum, which co-sponsored Frommer's bill. State Sen. Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento), chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, which approved the legislation last month, said that the state's budget problems may derail the bill this year. The Senate Appropriations Committee will consider the legislation on Aug. 5 (Rojas, Sacramento Bee, 7/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.