MayDay, MayDay! Our Essential Rights are at Risk

Vermont’s philosophical exemption to vaccines has been available to Vermonters since the childhood immunization act was put into place in 1979 and has its roots in the conscientious objections of the smallpox era.  This is because any medical procedure that carries with it known risk, requires the informed consent of the patient or the parent. Vaccinations are meant to induce artificial immunity, but we must hold fast to our natural-born rights to regulate our own immune systems without interference from pharmaceutical products.

It is an issue of grave concern to the future of Vermont – the parenting generation, the young families who raise and educate their children – all of whom help drive the economy of this state, that anyone should propose removing this essential human right of vaccine choice. If Vermont goes through with the “S199 conference report“, it will be the first state in the country to limit the right to decline pharmaceutical products by predicating rights on an arbitrary trigger that has no legal precedent nor evidence-based effectiveness.

The conference committee has proposed to give the VT Health Commissioner (an unelected official) the sole power to SUSPEND the philosophical exemption if Vermont’s vaccination rates drop below 90% for MMR, DTap or TDaP. It also requires parents who use the philosophical or religious exemption to sign that they are putting their children and others at risk for vaccine preventable diseases and changes the very name, from “philosophical exemption” to “personal conviction.”

The 90% “trigger” has not been vetted with any public testimony. Only the requirement of a signature of a healthcare practitioner was vetted and was found to be not only unacceptable to all MD’s who testified, but also is largly viewed as an expensive and logistically challenging limit on a Vermonter’s free right to medical choice.

Vermont Coalition for Vaccine Choice is – as always – willing to collaborate with lawmakers and the Health Department. Since our inception in February in response to S199, a lot has come to light. Many coalition members shared their intense personal stories of vaccine reactions, experiences with autism and even death after vaccination.  Three (3) Vermonters died last year after vaccines, and none died from infectious disease.  After such an experience as S199, we see clearly  that the conversation on vaccines and infectious disease prevention should be drastically different from what it has become.

Vermont;s Health Commissioner should be critically analyzing safety and efficacy data and the science in order to determine why states with high vaccination rates and no exemptions available to their citizens, still saw outbreaks of infectious diseases in the last year, and why some children die or are critically injured from vaccines, while others do not.

What about a Vermont Vaccine Working Group?  We could collaborate to work on:

  •  How best to support the families of the two children and one adult who died and others who have been injured, after receiving vaccines in 2011;
  • Formation of a “first response” adverse event reporting system within Vermont and investigation of all reports; and
  • Financial support for studies (securely separated from any special interest groups and pharma) on long-term health outcomes using vaccines.

A working group would of course include:

  • Citizen Stakeholder participation.  At least 10 citizens (eg., a cross section of parents who have vaccine damaged, immunocompromised and healthy children from all over the state);  and
  • The Health Department and a wide variety of healthcare practitioners:  medical doctors, naturopathic doctors, chiropractors, herbalists, nutritionists, homeopaths, midwives, nurses; etc.

Entire communities need to be informed about immune challenged children and the importance of keeping sick kids with infectious conditions out of schools. Because it isn’t just the vaccine “preventable” illnesses that are dangerous. A stomach flu, herpes infection or even a cold can all be dangerous to a person with a compromised immune system.  Vaccine shedding should be looked at as part of this group, and recommendations for staying at home until shedding has stopped so that we do not spread genetically engineered viruses.