Wauconda trustee candidate calls vaccines dangerous

With a measles outbreak tied to Disneyland prompting a renewed public debate about vaccinations, a Wauconda village board trustee candidate is raising concerns about inoculations.

During a group interview at the Daily Herald's Libertyville office, board hopeful Jason Anderson said some materials used in vaccines "are harmful to individuals' health."

Anderson also said "there's aborted fetuses in vaccines."

Experts say that isn't true.

"Aborted fetuses are not used to produce vaccines," said Richard Quartarone, a spokesman with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The vaccine against rubella, which also is called German measles, was developed decades ago using fetal cells. However, fetuses are not used to make the vaccine today.

Catholic Church officials have said receiving a vaccine doesn't violate their anti-abortion stance.

"Consenting does not condone abortion nor amount to encouraging further abortions," church leaders said in a 1994 statement on the issue that's available at the CDC's website.

Anderson is among five candidates running for three seats with 4-year terms on the village board. The others are: incumbents Ken Arnswald, Chuck Black and Linda Starkey; and Wauconda Park District commissioner Bob Cook.

Two additional candidates - Tim Howe and incumbent Joseph Coster - are running for one seat with a 2-year term.

Cook, Starkey, Arnswald, Black, Howe and Anderson attended the discussion Wednesday. Coster was unavailable and did a separate telephone interview.

Anderson was asked about his stance on vaccines because of posts on his Facebook page.

The vaccination debate has grown recently because of a significant measles outbreak that began last month. At least 98 cases have been reported, including one in the Northwest suburbs.

The local case hasn't been linked to the Disneyland outbreak.

Illinois requires students to be immunized against measles, mumps, rubella and other diseases.

However, students or parents who object to immunizations on religious grounds are exempt if they file signed statements, according to state law. Medical exemptions also are allowed.

This week, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Nirav Shah said immunizations are vital "to protect not only each child, but the community as a whole."

In the Wauconda candidate interview, Anderson described himself as "an advocate for vaccine choice."

When asked to elaborate, Anderson mentioned the use of fetuses. He also said vaccines have chemicals "that are very harmful to your neurotoxins."

Anderson specifically cited a preservative called thimerosal, which contains mercury.

According to the CDC website, "there is no convincing evidence of harm caused by the low doses of thimerosal in vaccines, except for minor reactions like redness and swelling at the injection site."

However, in 1999, public health agencies, medical groups and vaccine manufacturers agreed thimerosal should be reduced or eliminated in vaccines "as a precautionary measure," the CDC site says.

Cook is on a candidate slate with Anderson and admitted his running mate's stance on vaccines "is a concern for me."

Although he agreed people should have the right not to get vaccinated, Cook said he supports inoculations "100 percent."

"They've saved millions of lives," Cook said.

Arnswald, Black, Starkey, Howe and Coster also supported the use of vaccines.

Black and Howe both said they favor mandatory vaccinations if there's proof they can resolve a health crisis.

"Just as your right to swing your fist stops just before my nose, your right to refuse a vaccination stops just before you become patient zero in a national epidemic," Howe said.

Cook disagreed.

"There's a basic, fundamental freedom there that I don't think should be breached," Cook said.

Anderson, Cook and Coster will be on the ballot as the For Wauconda slate. A fourth teammate dropped out this week.

Arnswald, Black, Starkey and Howe are running as the United For Progress team.

Daily Herald staff writer Eric Peterson contributed to this report.

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