Teams argue vaccines

City hal hosts debate

Debate, 10-30-15 Pittsburg City Hall, Pittsburg, Ca., Speech Coach Richard Stanfield.
Cathie Lawrence
Debate, 10-30-15 Pittsburg City Hall, Pittsburg, Ca., Speech Coach Richard Stanfield.
Los Medanos College’s debate team made an appearance at Pittsburg City Hall to argue for and against a topic that has become as controversial as abortions, gay marriage and immigration — vaccines.

Two teams came prepared Friday, Oct. 30 to debate whether a new California law requiring all students entering the public school system to receive childhood vaccinations.

The city hall had been filled with LMC faculty, staff, students and members of the community, including four former debaters — Katie Lucido, Miguel Mauricio, Dennis Tekell and Dylan Melowitz, and Lupe Mauricio, who had only found out 15 minutes prior to the debate that he was going to have to fill in for a member of the opposition, had felt the pressure.

“I felt nervous,” said team member Genaro Mauricio. “I felt unprepared, but I was willing to accept the challenge.”

There were four students on each team, one representing the California government — which included Richard Stanfield, Genaro Mauricio, Taylor Gonzalez, and Grace Babayan — and the other the opposition — which included Isaac Wimberly, Lupe Mauricio, Sergio Ramirez, and Yetunde Ogunleye — with each member taking a turn to provide facts and arguments for their side of the issue.

The government was up first, which is traditional in parliamentary-style debate.

“We on the government team proudly support the California law that will go into effect July 2016 that states that all children must be vaccinated before entering the public school even a pre-school,” said Genaro Mauricio, who is new to the LMC debate team. “The only exemptions for this law would be medical exemptions such as someone who’s suffering from acute leukemia or transplant patients that have weakened or compromised immune systems.”

Genaro Mauricio also quoted statistics to support their claim that vaccines have saved several lives.

“The center for disease control estimated that 732,000 American children were saved from death and 322 million child illnesses were prevented from 1994 to 2014 due to vaccinations,” said Genaro Mauricio.

But the opposition’s opener, Wimberly, argued that mandatory vaccinations would cause rebellions because the new law would limit rights and said it would cause children to lose their natural immunity.

Stanfield from the government countered with the fact that we have many mandatory things for children in our society already — such as being required to enroll in school or be placed in a car seat.

“When it comes to protecting our children, we do things that are mandatory,” said Stanfield. “Not because they are mandatory, but because they are right.”

He also noted that this particular area of California has a high level of children who have not been vaccinated.

“In Contra Costa County, this is from the California Department of Public Health, 93.83% of kindergarten children are not immunized,” said Stanfield.

Stanfield also reminded the opposition of the situation in Disneyland, when a person who had the measles went to amusement park and 132 people were infected as a result.

“Had all of those children been immunized or even just 95% of them, we would not of had that outbreak,” Stanfield explained.

Lupe Mauricio countered that the vaccines could actually be harmful to children instead of helping them and brought up that the companies making them earn a large profit from these vaccines, when they should be more focused on the citizen’s health.

Another argument brought up by the opposition was that some companies combine vaccines and that we do not have enough information people would react to taking these types of vaccines.

Gonzalez, on the government side, countered that we live in a capitalist society that strives to make a profit on things and so the pharmaceutical companies can’t be blamed. He also added that vaccines have been tested for possible negative reactions.

The government also argued that without people getting immunizations they can leave everyone else vulnerable.

“Vaccinating children is our greatest defense we have against these diseases because when there is another outbreak, it will be too late to be reactionary,” said Gonzalez.

Ramirez from the opposing side said the government should not be allowed to intervene on the citizen’s personal decisions for reasons such as religious or personal exemptions.

“There are sometimes serious and fatal side effects because of the harmful ingredients that are inside of these vaccinations,” said Ramirez. “That is something that [the government has] failed to bring to you.”

Babayan countered the opposing team with the fact that they talked about natural immunity as being the best way against diseases and that they are failing to recognize that people with no natural immunity would be at a disadvantage.

“Any argument that goes against children’s safety and health we find unethical,” said Babayan.

The government also stated that they are in favor of making laws mandatory when it protects the majority of people.

Opposition closer, Ogunleye, said personal rights should be above the mandatory law.

“Thirty percent of vaccinations have adverse reactions. 15% of those cause brain damage, permanent illness, paralysis, disabilities and potential death,” said Ogunleye.

LMC student Heavenly Prater was impressed with one of new debater Richard Stanfield’s performance.

“I thought Richard was really well spoken,” said Prater. “He’s just really enthusiastic about what he talks about.”

LMC President Bob Kratochvil was also in attendance.

“[The] students did a great job,” said Kratochvil. “I felt each of them was pretty well prepared.”

For more information on the debate team and their upcoming debates or events go to