From our friends at New Jersey Coalition for Vaccination Choice:
Merck is receiving hundreds of phone calls from concerned parents who question the vaccine maker’s recent decision to stop making the individual (“monovalent”) measles, mumps and rubella vaccines. Let’s really get their attention. Starting today, join us in a focused campaign to send to Merck a strong message from parents across the country and all over the world. Below you’ll find a sample letter which outlines our key reasons why Merck must resume manufacturing the monovalent vaccines. You can use this letter as-is or edit any part of it. If you have time, please complete steps #1 through 4:
1) Send the letter to: Mr. Richard T. Clark, CEO, Merck & Company, One Merck Drive PO Box 100, Whitehouse Station, NJ 08889-0100
2) Fax the same letter to 908-735-1244 (back up fax 908-735-1500 or 215-993-1220)
3) E-mail the same letter to Richard_clark@merck.com and copy vaxRSVP@verizon.net
4) Call them and deliver the message in person: 908-423-1000 and ask for the office of the CEO (back up number (800) 672-6372, press 2, then press 3)
Make the contact with Merck and we’ll report back to let you know what we’re hearing. We also know that parents are searching high and low, traveling the globe and spending thousands of dollars to locate the individual vaccines. Send your “Finding M, M and R” stories to vaxRSVP@verizon.net.
The sample letter (HERE) is below:
Richard Clark, CEO
Merck & Company
One Merck Drive PO Box 100
Whitehouse Station, NJ -8889-0100
Dear Mr. Clark,
I am writing to express my extreme disappointment regarding Merck’s recent announcement to discontinue production and sales of the individual (monovalent) measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines in the United States. I am asking you to seriously consider revoking this decision. I join the ranks of hundreds of thousands of parents who are angry that we are now forced to give our children the combination MMR vaccine. The ramifications of your corporate decision are deeply troubling. They will weaken compliance and serve to further widen the trust gap between parents on the one hand and government and industry on the other. The net effect will undermine public health policy. Perhaps you have not considered the full impact of your decision. Please consider the many ways that parents are connecting the dots. There are urgent reasons why you must continue to manufacture the monovalent vaccines.
Defacto Increase in Number of Mandated Vaccines
Vaccines are mandated for daycare and school admission at the state level. All states mandate one dose each of measles, mumps and rubella vaccines around the child’s first birthday. Many states, however, also mandate a second measles vaccine prior to kindergarten. By eliminating the option to administer a single second measles vaccine, you have effectively increased the number of mandated shots these children are required to receive. Some parents will choose to forgo rather than double up.
More Injuries Caused By Combination Vaccines
Combination vaccines are documented to cause more injuries. The motivation behind the development of combination vaccines had less to do with therapeutic benefit or safety and more to do with cost, convenience, compliance and perceived parental discomfort caused by seeing their baby pierced with multiple needles.
Simultaneous Shots Neither Recommended Nor Adequately Studied
Merck and other vaccine makers have never studied the merits and safety of giving multiple shots during the same office visit. You admit as much in your own MMR package insert: “Routine administration of DTP and/or OPV concurrently with measles, mumps and rubella vaccines is not recommended because there are limited data relating to the simultaneous administration of these antigens.” www.merck.com/product/usa/pi_circulars/m/mmr_ii/mmr_ii_pi.pdf
Mr. Richard Clark – March 5, 2009
Physician Flexibility to Individualize Patient Protocol is Eliminated
Doctors must have the option to assess a child’s family history and individual circumstances and modify the recommended protocol accordingly. Many parents are already working with their doctors and are on track to have their children receive their recommended shots using the monovalent vaccines and a modified timeline. Your decision removes an important option that doctors have to administer the vaccines separately and more safely.
Ethical and Religious Concerns Regarding Ingredients
The rubella vaccine is cultured on aborted fetal tissue. Some will choose to avoid this shot for moral or religious reasons. If the combination MMR is the only option to protect against measles and mumps, some of these parents will skip this vaccine altogether.
Controversy Surrounding Combination MMR Vaccine Affects Compliance
There is a raging debate regarding the safety of the combination measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. Despite attempts by government health officials to dismiss parent fears, public concern remains. Offering the option to use either the combination or single dose vaccines supports the informed consent ethic, strengthens the patient-physician relationship and enhances the integrity of the national vaccine program. Overall compliance is improved. Without the choice, parents will increasingly opt against vaccination rather than be forced into giving their children the combination MMR shot.
There is a robust market for the individual vaccines. Please demonstrate to parents that you understand our legitimate concerns. Merck should act responsibly and continue to offer the individual measles, mumps and rubella vaccines. Thank you.