- Concerned parents come together over the vaccination bill – VTDigger
- Parents hold fast to exemption for vaccines – VTDigger
- Immunization bill likely to stall in House committee – VTDigger
- Legislators hammering out vaccine exemption – VTDigger
- Conference committee agrees on vaccine compromise – VTDigger
- Vaccine bill passes House — with full philosophical exemption – VTDigger
- Legislature Votes to Preserve Vaccine Exemption (Vote was 133-6 , this was Front Page News, Burlington Free Press, 5/4/2012 – http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20120504/NEWS03/120503050/Legislature-votes-preserve-vaccination-exemption?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE)
- First Amendment Rights Cited in Objection to New Vaccine Exemption Form- http://www.vaxchoicevt.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/VTDigger-First-Amendment-rights-cited-in-objection-to-new-vaccine-exemption-form.pdf
- How an army of one changed the law- VTBiz (note it was not just one, it was EVERY ONE
Note: A pattern identical to Vermont’s has emerged in other states with philosophical exemptions. Read more at: June 7, 2012: http://www.montpelierbridge.com/2012/06/opinion-derailing-the-vaccine-machine/
In 2011/2012, claims were made in media outlets that Vermont’s vaccination rates were falling to dangerously low levels. We spent a great deal of time demonstrating that the health department had data, publicly available on their own website that showed this was not the case. Since that time, they do not make the data sets available as they used to. For more, please see: http://www.vaxchoicevt.com/vaccination-rates-up-exemptions-down-in-fy-2012-health-department-report-refutes-their-own-claims/
In January, 2012 the Vermont Senate Health Committee took up S.199, a bill that intended to extend the immunization pilot program but also which “threw in” some language that simply said: “eliminate the philosophical exemption.” Truth be told, many parents have no idea they even have a choice as to whether they can opt of of “required shots” and still send their kids to school. Those who did know at the time, began to visit the statehouse to listen to what was going on.
The senate room was full of corporate lobbyists, busily taking notes, test messaging, typing, nodding when the “right words” were spoken. There was no room for parents with young children to sit down – they remained standing, wedged in a small channel between the seated lobbyists and the seated senators. Some parents had their cell phones out and were filming the proceedings. Their hope was to try to spread the word. In their view, if more people knew what was really happening they would be outraged. Forced pharma for our children? No choice but to just accept all vaccines “recommended” by the AAP and the government or not be able to participate in our small schools? Schools serve as the main focal point of community in vermont. Some pay dearly in taxes to send their children to Vermont schools.
Turns out that S.199 also had a nearly identical bill in the house healthcare committee, that had been introduced by gynecologist George Till – H.527. Till came to the senate committee and said with a smirk on his face: we call people who do not immunize “free riders” – they benefit from the people protected from disease who had been vaccinated.
A public hearing was held by the Vermont House (see WPTZ coverage) , March 21, 2012 and Concerned parents came together over the vaccination bill http://vtdigger.org/2012/03/21/concerned-parents-come-together-over-vaccination-bill/
The missing context in this discussion is the ever expanding schedule, which is a much bigger driver in the use of exemptions than “anti-vaccine” sentiment. (This chart from Oregon illustrates that exemptions rise in response to added mandates http://www.scribd.com/doc/150190637/Oregon-Exemptions-Added-Vaccines-by-Year-Grade).
A bill in WA that preceded VT and ended up requiring a “corrective educational doctor visit and signature” made no impact on exemption rates – see: http://www.scribd.com/doc/211912227/WA-SB-5005-Exemption-Rule.
The Vermont legislature spent an entire week of hearings considering a bill brought forward and supported by the VT DOH to eliminate non-medical vaccine exemptions to school attendance requirements. The hearing testimony was weighted 3 to 1 pro to opposed, yet the legislature rejected the bill. The committee, many of whom do not have young children, was surprised to learn that Chicken Pox was added to school requirements in 2008, and that the requirement doubled the exemption rate. The US and Germany stand alone in recommending Chicken Pox vaccine universally. March 29, 2012:
“I should have the choice of what to put in my child,” said one mother- Immunization debate hits fevered pitch in Vermont Statehouse http://neach.communitycatalyst.org/states/vt/news/immunization-debate-hits-fevered-pitch-in-vermont-statehouse
“Those who wanted to keep Vermont among the 20 states that allow a philosophical exemption said the reported decline in vaccinations was exaggerated, because children missing just one of about 20 shots they are supposed to have by age 6 are counted as unvaccinated.” – 4/13/14 Boston Globe, http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2012/04/13/house-debates-childhood-immunization-law/1G8gX96ASktW6niF1qyqTP/story.html
(Most other countries reserve it for teens who failed to contract it naturally in childhood http://www.scribd.com/doc/120430481/CDC-MMRV-Vaccine-Data-Safety-Link-Slides)
Aside from learning that vaccination rate data were being twisted and misused, the committee also learned that an exemption is required to delay or opt out of even one dose of a required vaccine, and that that is the majority usage. That there are very few completely un-vaccinated kids. Once they understood the confusing way DOH was measuring and presenting exemptions the committee consensus was, “there is no problem”. One example was North Bennington Grade School, a 13 student Kindergarten class that the VT DOH considers “50% exempt”. Yet, 13 of the 14 have all their doses of DtaP, Polio, MMR, and Hep B vaccines; 11 of the 14 have 2 doses of Chicken Pox vaccine, and 7 have Philosophical exemptions. That means 3 Chicken Pox exemptions, and one exemption each for a dose of DTaP, Polio, MMR, & HepB vaccines. This example of selective exemption undercuts the false assertion of blanket anti-vaccine sentiment as a motivator- how can parents who do all but one shot be considered “anti-vaccine”? The most logical explanation is that the child reacted to a previous dose of the currently exempted vaccine, or in the case of Chicken Pox the utility is not as self evident as vaccines for more serious infections. Removing the Chicken Pox requirement would cut the number of exemptions in half.
Health Care Provider hearing testimony expressing their strong reluctance to granting exemptions reinforced to the committee the need to maintain an unrestricted exemptions available to parents. The selective exemption use indicates the exemptions are often being used as a “Parent Administered Medical Exemption”, that does not require an adversarial confrontation with a HCP over causality to be implemented.
At the end of the day the reporting requirement was the Legislature’s answer- lets get more accurate data to make an informed decision. It is suspected that the exemption info is intentionally difficult to access because it does not support the VT DOH assertion of exemptions being misused, overused or used recklessly. It instead illustrates parents responding thoughtfully to a growing schedule of requirements. The VT DOH was also embarrassed by the fact that while they were promoting the bill, the vaccination rates were actually increasing and exemption use was decreasing. http://www.scribd.com/doc/114630984/2011-2012-VT-Vax-StatsMU3-Copy
There is extensive information of Vermont here http://www.scribd.com/doc/85943667/VT-S-199-amp-HB-527-Information & http://www.scribd.com/doc/80383332/S199-Commitee-Submission-With-Exhibits.
The nationwide assault on “non-medical” vaccine exemptions is unrelated to vaccination or infection rates, as exampled by what happened here in Vermont. The Vaccine Industry (yes that includes the AAP and VTMS and hospitals) sponsored legislation to eliminate our non-medical exemptions, claiming that parental exemption use was rising and vaccination rates were falling. Our VT Legislature (house) held a week of hearings weighted 3 to 1 to the vaccine industry side, yet the bill was defeated because the truth came out. There is no overuse, misuse or abuse of exemptions. After the bill was defeated and the session ended VT DOH published the rates for that year (2012)- and guess what? Vaccination rates were up and exemptions had dropped, during the exact time period the VT DOH had been busy claiming the opposite.
The ridiculous aspect of this is that in the entire state of Vermont there are only 285 Kindergartners with an exemption, and that number would be cut in half if they took Chicken Pox back out of the schedule. Big Pharma had nine lobbyists working the bill, flew in someone from “Every Child by Two”- this is how you know it is not about selling another 150 Chicken Pox shots, and catching the insignificant number of school age children slipping through the cracks. US School age children are by far the most compliant and vaccinated population in the world. It is a saturated market. The “successful” school age mandates program is being used as a model for adult mandates. What is the difference between a school and a workplace other than the age of the people there? Getting non-medical exemptions out of the model school age program will keep them off the table as adult mandates expand. First is Health Care, then Child Care, Education, anyone who interacts with anyone will come under some compulsion.