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Rubella immunizations important

The recent letter by Cora M. Dancy '93 contains several misrepresentations ["Medical Department is irresponsible," Nov. 1]. While Dancy says that "only the measles shot is required by law," the truth is that measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus and diphtheria immunizations are required by the Massachusetts College Immunization Law. This year the commonwealth modified the law to require two doses of the measles vaccine as well as

the other previously required immunizations.

Second, while Dancy states that "there is a significant chance that the [rubella] immunization itself, if administered within three months of conception, will cause . . . birth defects," careful scientific studies have proven the opposite. Since 1971, the Centers for Disease Control have maintained a register to monitor the risks to the fetus of exposure to the rubella vaccine within three months before or after conception. With data collected from more than 500 infants whose mothers were vaccinated with the rubella vaccine in the three-month window before or after conception, no infant has shown the malformations of congenital rubella syndrome.

Finally, implying that Medical Department personnel are "ignorant" and assume "that all MIT women are sexually inactive" does not mix with reality. We offer to the student population a wide range of obstetrical and gynecological services as well as health education information and programming. Birth-control information and devices are available at the Medical Department, and we have an active outreach program for living groups on sexuality issues.

Public policy mandates universal rubella immunization of boys and girls as well as young men and women. With a high level of immunization among the populace, the chance of a rubella epidemic is vastly minimized. As a result, universal rubella immunizations will help prevent the non-immunized susceptible pregnant woman from contracting rubella with possible transmission of the rubella virus to her unborn child. False and misleading statements about rubella immunizations will deter patients from seeking the inoculation. This in turn will damage the effectiveness of

the immunizations program and therefore place unborn children at risk for congenital defects and deformities.

Mark A. Goldstein->

[rl]

Chief of Pediatrics and Student Health Services->