By Barbara Loe Fisher
These are desperate times for those denying vaccine risks. We know it because we are witnessing so many acts of desperation being committed by doctors determined to shut down the public conversation about vaccination and health.
Vaccine risk deniers are working overtime to restrict public access to information, cover up vaccine injuries and deaths and violate the human right to informed consent to medical risk-taking.
No Flu Shots? No Employment
2013 was only a few days old when public health agencies and medical trade groups called for veteran nurses and other health care workers to be fired for refusing to obey orders to get annual flu shots – no exceptions and no questions asked.1
It did not matter that the risky and notoriously ineffective influenza vaccine turned out to be almost useless in preventing infection with the most prevalent influenza strains circulating in the US this year.2
Proposed State Legislation to Force Vaccine Use
This was followed by the introduction of legislation backed by public health officials and Pharma-funded medical trade groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics in states like Texas, Oregon, Arizona and Vermont.3
Their goal is to remove or restrict non-medical vaccine exemptions in state laws so doctors have more power to force vaccine use by children and adults - no questions asked and no exceptions.
Institute of Medicine Report: Where Is the Good Vaccine Science?
In mid-January came the eye-opening Institute of Medicine committee report acknowledging that only 37 scientific studies have examined the safety of the current US vaccine schedule for newborns and children under age six,4 which now totals a stunning 49 doses of 14 vaccines5 compared to 23 doses of 7 vaccines recommended in 1983.6
The lack of enough good scientific studies meant the committee could not determine whether the number of doses and timing of government recommended vaccinations is - or is not - associated with development of chronic health problems like seizures, autoimmunity, allergies, learning disabilities and autism in the first six years of life.7
New U.S. Autism Prevalence Statistic: 1 Child in 50
In March, a report was issued by the National Center for Health Statistics estimating that among children attending school in America today, 1 child in 50 has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).8 In 2004, that number was 1 child in 150. In 1992, it was 1 child in 500, and in 1986 it was 1 child in 2000.9
By April, which is Autism Awareness Month in the US, there was a full court press by doctors inside and outside of government to dismiss any association whatsoever between steep increases in the numbers of vaccinations given to children during the past 30 years and corresponding steep increases in the numbers of children developing autism.
Those doctors know, but a lot of young parents today don’t know, that the public conversation about vaccine-induced brain inflammation and chronic brain and immune system dysfunction, including autism, began 16 years before a study was published in The Lancet in 1998 examining the potential association between the MMR vaccine and autism.10, 11
CDC Study Fails to Confirm Offit's Claim That 10,000 Vaccines Are Safe for Babies
On Good Friday, April 1, during Easter and Passover observances, a study conducted and funded by the Centers for Disease Control was released by the Journal of Pediatrics declaring that “increasing exposure to antibody stimulating proteins and polysaccharides in vaccines is not associated with risk of autism” and, therefore, vaccines don’t cause autism.12
It was a pathetic attempt to validate a Machiavellian hypothesis forwarded in 2002 by pediatric vaccine developer Paul Offit claiming that an infant could safely respond to 10,000 vaccines given at any one time.13
However, an eighth grade science class student with an elementary understanding of health research methods,14 the bioactivity of various vaccine ingredients15, 16, 17, 18 and the difference between naturally acquired and vaccine acquired immunity19 could figure out that the absence of an unvaccinated control group meant the study was fatally flawed. It proved absolutely nothing about the potential relationship between administration of multiple vaccinations in early childhood and the development of autism among genetically diverse children with and without increased biological susceptibility to adverse responses to vaccination.20
Pediatricians Label Social Networking Parents 'Nonconformers'
On April 15, Pediatric News published an online survey stating the obvious: a person’s knowledge, values and beliefs, as well as the opinions of friends and families in social networks, strongly influences decisions about vaccination.21 Parents, who expressed doubts about vaccine safety and used alternative vaccine schedules for their children, were pejoratively labeled as "nonconformers."
Pediatricians commenting on the survey suggested that nonconforming parents did not base their vaccine decisions on “rational logic” and “scientific evidence” because they were influenced by nonconforming friends and misleading information on nonconforming websites.22 Apparently, there was no consideration given to the fact that nonconforming parents found the poor science and empty rhetoric buttressing one-size-fits-all vaccine policies entirely unconvincing.23
Journalist and Magazine Attacked for Article Questioning Gardasil Safety
April was also the month that a veteran journalist and radio show host was personally attacked by pediatricians and public health officials in Buffalo, New York for daring to write an article questioning the safety of the Gardasil vaccine and urging parents to make informed vaccine choices.24 Outraged doctors threatened to financially ruin the magazine that published the article by destroying the magazine’s paid advertising base unless the article was retracted.25
Offit Plays Class and Race Card to Demonize Smart Nonconforming Parents
By the end of April, a CNN reporter quoted doctors blaming outbreaks of whooping cough, measles and mumps on unvaccinated people in developed nations, who spread their vaccine safety doubts on the Internet and jeopardize the health of people around the world.26 Crassly playing both the class AND race card, the magical thinking, attention seeking Dr. Offit offered the opinion that “It is the upper middle class, well-educated Caucasian parents who are shunning vaccines. They have generally gone to graduate school, are in positions of management and are used to being in control,” he said flatly.
Doctors playing the blame game apparently disagree about whether nonconforming parents asking questions about vaccines are simply stupid and irrational or are just over-educated, rich white folks refusing to acknowledge the intellectual superiority and infallibility of those with M.D., PhD or MPH written after their names regardless of the color of their skin or how much money they make.
Doctors like Offit,27 Halsey,28, 29, 30 Plotkin,31, 32 Omer33, 34, 35, 36 and others denying vaccine risks are blaming everyone but themselves for the miserable statistic that 1 child in 50 in America develops a type of brain and immune dysfunction labeled autism when it used to be 1 child in 2000 before they dumped three times as many vaccinations on babies.
Regression into Poor Health After Vaccination: A Universal Experience
What doctors drowning in denialism37 refuse to accept is that, today, everybody knows somebody who was healthy, got vaccinated and was never healthy again.38 That pattern of regression into poor health,39 that universal experience of suffering after use of a pharmaceutical product that has a long, well documented history of risks40, 41, 42 and failures,43, 44 is why the public conversation about health and vaccination in the 21st century must and will continue. It will continue until doctors, who are pushing more and more vaccines on children and adults already more highly vaccinated and sicker than ever, come up with a much better explanation than it’s “bad genes,” “better diagnosing” or all “a coincidence.”
Vaccine Makers and Doctors Shielded from Liability Have Ethical Duty
In the US, vaccine manufacturers are shielded from product liability in civil court and doctors promoting and administering vaccines are also shielded from vaccine injury lawsuits.45, 46 Doctors without legal accountability have an even greater ethical duty to encourage patients and parents of minor children to become educated about all risks and honor the vaccination decisions patients or parents make, even if the doctor does not personally agree with the decision made.47, 48
Freedom of thought, speech and conscience are deeply valued and constitutionally protected rights in America.49 The public trust in the integrity of public health policies is destroyed when defensive doctors unwilling to share decision-making power fail to respect the human right to informed consent to medical risk taking and behave like schoolyard bullies instead of compassionate healers committed to, first, doing no harm.
Kids Given This Have 22 Times the Rate of Ear Infections
Vaccine News: AAP Opposes Ban on Thimerosal, While Study Finds More Vaccines Equate to Increased Hospitalization and Death
By Barbara Loe Fisher
It's that time of the year again when drug companies, doctors, government officials and media conduct a national advertising campaign to sell flu shots to every American.1, 2, 3 You can't pass by a pharmacy,4 enter a supermarket,5 shop in a "big box" store6 or catch a plane7 without seeing the "flu shots for sale" signs trolling for customers.
The pharmaceutical industry is cutting out the M.D. middleman and going straight for the gold in places where we shop for toothpaste, clothes and food.8 Even on the evening news, flu shot commercials are becoming as frequent as political campaign ads.
Up until the year 2000, flu shots were not recommended for everyone. Back in the 1990's, doctors were telling seniors over age 65 and younger people with chronic illness to get vaccinated.9
No Flu Shot? No Job or Daycare!
Now, doctors at the CDC tell every man, woman and child over six months old they need an annual flu shot10 and it is OK for health care workers to be fired if they don't get vaccinated every year.11, 12, 13, 14
In the states of Connecticut and New Jersey, mandates are already in place that force parents to give their six-month old babies a flu vaccine or be banned from daycare.15 This, as state health department officials join with medical trade association lobbyists in many states to severely restrict or eliminate medical, religious and conscientious belief vaccine exemptions for all children.16, 17
The vaccine liability shield that Congress gave doctors and drug companies in 198618 and the public-private business partnership between government and the pharmaceutical industry that Congress created after Sept. 11, 2001,19, 20 is paying big dividends for liability free drug companies and liability free doctors selling flu shots to more than 300 million Americans.
It doesn't matter if 80 percent of all flu-like illness is really caused by other viruses and bacteria and not influenza,21, 22 or that flu vaccine efficacy is estimated at 60 percent to 80 percent, depending upon age and what kind of vaccine is given.23
Selling Big Mortality Numbers to Sell Flu Vaccine
The selling of influenza vaccine has a lot to do with selling big morbidity and mortality numbers. So how bad were those numbers in the late 20th century to justify government taking a "no exceptions" cradle to the grave approach to flu shots for every American in the 21st century? Let's take a quick look at the hype versus the evidence.
The first experimental influenza vaccines were given to soldiers in World War II. It wasn't until the 1957-58 and 1968-69 influenza pandemics that the vaccine was marketed to civilians.24 Between 1970 and 2000, the trivalent influenza vaccine containing two strains of type A influenza and one strain of type B influenza was primarily recommended for the elderly. That is because respiratory infections, especially with pneumonia complications, have always been a leading cause of death for people at the end of their life span.25
There was only one deadly influenza pandemic in the last 100 years that killed the young and healthy in great numbers and that was the 1918 Spanish Flu. It turns out that bacterial pneumonia is what killed most people, young or old, in the 1918 pandemic. Today, antibiotics would have prevented most of those deaths.26
But just how bad is seasonal influenza today?
Is It 200,000 Influenza Hospitalizations or 37,000?
The CDC has been telling the public for nearly a decade that there are more than 200,000 estimated hospitalizations and 36,000 estimated deaths from influenza in the U.S. every year.27
But are those figures accurate? Well, it all depends upon use of the word "estimate." The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported that, in 2004, there were about 37,000 Americans hospitalized for either influenza or another illness in addition to influenza, and patients over age 85 were twice as likely to die.28
Now, 37,000 influenza hospitalizations is five times less than the 200,000 hospitalization figure the CDC uses. That is because what CDC employees did to come up with their influenza hospitalization "estimate" was to count a lot of people hospitalized between 1979 and 2001 – not just with influenza but also with pneumonia, respiratory and circulatory illnesses – which they counted as probably associated with influenza.29, 30
And they got away with it.
Counting Influenza Deaths & A Whole Lot More
In 2003, CDC employees also used a convoluted statistical modeling scheme to "estimate" that 36,000 people die from influenza in the U.S. every year. Again, they counted not just influenza death cases but also threw in other respiratory, circulatory, cardiac and pulmonary deaths they thought might have been associated with influenza.31
And they got away with it.
In 2005, a young PhD candidate at MIT published an article in the British Medical Journal and asked the question: "Are U.S. Flu Death Figures More PR Than Science?"32 He analyzed the U.S. Vital Statistics Mortality Data, which has been carefully recorded for more than a century by the National Center for Health Statistics. I recently looked at that Vital Statistics data, too, and created a chart of influenza and pneumonia deaths recorded between 1940 and 2010.33
Recorded Influenza Deaths Dropping in 21st Century
Here is what I found: Since 1940, the highest number of influenza deaths recorded in a single year was 21,047 deaths in 1941. In fact, the mortality rate from influenza was NOT rising in the late 20th century – as the CDC employees have alleged – it was dropping.
There were only between 600 and 750 influenza deaths recorded annually between 1995 and 1997.34 The most influenza deaths recorded in a single year since 1979 was about 2,900 deaths and that was in 2009, the H1N1 swine flu pandemic year!
CDC Expanding the Flu Vaccine Market Between 2000-2010
But that didn't stop CDC policymakers, along with drug company and medical trade association lobbyists ever present at the policymaking table, from using inflated influenza hospitalization and mortality estimates to justify expanding the influenza vaccine market:
- In 2000, CDC policymakers voted to expand flu shot recommendations to all healthy Americans over age 50.35 Out of a population of 300 million, there were 1,765 recorded influenza deaths that year.
- In 2002, CDC voted to add all healthy babies from six to 23 months.36 There were 727 recorded influenza deaths that year.
- In 2006, CDC voted to recommend flu shots for all healthy children up to five years old as well as all healthy pregnant women in any trimester.37 There were 849 recorded influenza deaths that year.
- In 2007, CDC voted to add all healthy children up to eight years old.38 There were 411 recorded influenza deaths that year.
- In 2008, CDC voted to recommend annual flu shots for all healthy children up to age 18 years.39 There were 1,722 recorded influenza deaths that year.
- In 2009, the Secretaries of Health and Homeland Security declared a national emergency because they said pandemic H1N1 swine flu was sweeping the country and tens of thousands of people could die. Liability free drug companies were told to rush an experimental swine flu vaccine to the market.40
- In 2010, a year when there were 494 recorded influenza deaths, the CDC officials finally reached the ultimate goal of their long game: they told doctors to give annual flu shots to every American, healthy or not, from the year of birth to the year of death.41
And they got away with it.
CDC Does Not Require States to Report All Influenza Cases or Deaths
They got away with it because the CDC does not require states to "report individual seasonal flu cases or deaths of people older than 18 years of age."42 That's right – the CDC is not actually asking for the information they need to accurately assess influenza morbidity and mortality in the U.S. It would be funny if people weren't actually losing their jobs or being denied daycare or becoming paralyzed43, 44 by this "no exceptions" flu shot policy.
Global Flu Vaccine Market: U.S. Biggest Customer
Today, the global market for seasonal influenza vaccine is $3.6 billion and forecasters have recently reported that the U.S. is the single biggest and most profitable market in the world.45 They say the huge U.S. market is "driven by price increases" and high vaccine coverage rates generated by the 2009 influenza pandemic and the government's "universal" flu shot recommendation in 2010. They add that "campaigning by U.S. authorities" will continue to drive up flu shot sales.
CDC: We Don't Know How Many Influenza Deaths There Are
Meanwhile, doctors at the CDC now quietly admit on their website that the "CDC does not know exactly how many people die from seasonal flu each year."46 Having gotten that cradle to the grave flu shot recommendation firmly in place, they are backing away from the 36,000 influenza death figure. CDC now says that "only 8.5 percent of all pneumonia and influenza deaths and only 2.1 percent of all respiratory and circulatory deaths" are influenza related.
You can almost hear those liability free drug companies and doctors laughing all the way to the bank.
By Barbara Loe Fisher
Ever since the first vaccines – smallpox and rabies vaccines – one of the most serious complications of vaccination has been brain inflammation.1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 Brain inflammation can cause convulsions, also known as seizures.8 Continuing seizures can permanently damage the brain over time.9
In fact, for the first 40 years that the pertussis vaccine was given to children in the DPT shot, pediatricians were told: "Do not give any more pertussis vaccines to children who develop seizures within 72 hours of a DPT vaccination."10, 11,12, 13 Convulsions were an absolute contraindication to more DPT shots, especially if they occurred without a fever.
Protecting Children Vulnerable to Vaccine Reactions
But that changed after Congress passed a 1986 law shielding doctors and vaccine manufacturers from vaccine injury lawsuits.14 Once pediatricians were protected from lawsuits,15 public health officials and medical trade associations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, said serious vaccine reactions – such as seizures (1 child in 14,000),16 high-pitched screaming and collapse/shock (hypotonic hyporesponsive episodes) – weren't all that important.17, 18, 19
So today, it is really up to parents to find a doctor they can trust, who will take the precautionary approach to giving more vaccines in the face of previous vaccine reactions, like seizures, especially if the child has symptoms of brain injury.
On NVIC's Vaccine Freedom Wall at NVIC.org, mothers are posting descriptions of how they have been threatened and punished with dismissal from pediatric practices when they try to protect their children from vaccine reactions.
Here is one Mom's story:
"After receiving her first vaccines, including DPT, my daughter began to have violent seizures, which continued but lessened over the next year. On many occasions, pediatricians have attempted to bully me into allowing more vaccinations for her. Telling them about her seizures, I refuse and tell each of them 'unless you will personally guarantee, in writing, that there will be no adverse reactions so I can sue you if there are, then I won't do it.' Not a single doctor has taken me up on my offer," she said.
"My daughter is now diagnosed with autism. After we moved, we had to get another doctor and, after a year when I wouldn't change my mind about more vaccines, he told me he wouldn't be our doctor anymore. I went to another doctor, who wouldn't even take us into his practice. We finally found someone who understands. She is an awesome pediatrician! So something good came of it in the end," she said.
The Precautionary Approach: Children Are Not All the Same
There are enlightened pediatricians, who do take the precautionary approach to vaccination because they care about preventing vaccine reactions, injuries and deaths. They want to be partners with parents in making personalized health care decisions for children because they know that children are not all the same20 and that some children are not able to handle the process of vaccination.21
Please don't be afraid to stand up for your human right to protect your child from harm. Especially if your child has already experienced a vaccine reaction, search until you find a compassionate pediatrician or family practice doctor who will work with you to make the best health care decisions for your child.
It's your health, your family, your choice.
CA Bill to Restrict Personal Belief Exemption Passes
On Aug. 27 an amended California bill (AB2109) to restrict a parent's ability to obtain a personal belief exemption to vaccination for their child to attend school, passed the Assembly by a vote of 49 to 24. The bill will force parents filing a non-medical exemption to pay for an appointment with a medical doctor or state-designated medical worker and ask for a signature that permits the parent to obtain an exemption for religious, conscientious or philosophical beliefs.
School Nurses, Not Pharmacists Can Sign the Form
The bill was vigorously debated on the Senate floor on Aug. 24 after an amendment had been added to allow school nurses to sign the personal belief exemption form but denied pharmacists the right to sign the form due to opposition from the bill's sponsor, pediatrician Richard Pan, M.D. (D-Sacramento). There are fewer than 2500 nurses working in California's 10,000 schools but there are more than 300,000 pharmacists working in local drug stores.
Contact Governor Jerry Brown and Make Your Voice Heard
If Governor Jerry Brown signs AB2109 into law, it will take effect on Jan. 1, 2014. If you want to tell Governor Brown what you think about AB2109, sign up for NVIC's Advocacy Portal and be put in touch with him with the touch of your iPhone screen or click of a computer mouse.
Watch the Aug. 24 Senate floor debate on AB2109 here. (scroll in to 4 hours, 20 minutes, 27 seconds)
Read the text of A2109 here.
By Barbara Loe Fisher
On June 13, 2012, a study conducted by government health employees working at the Oregon Health Authority and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) was published in Pediatrics, a medical journal owned by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).1
Using electronic vaccine records tracking systems, public health doctors concluded that about 10 percent of parents living in Portland, Oregon are making independent decisions about how many vaccines their babies should get and when they should get them. Those parents are rejecting the CDC's aggressive vaccination schedule2 promoted by the AAP that directs pediatricians to give 2- to 6-month-old babies between seven to nine vaccines on the same day, without exception.
Doctors Demonize Parents Making Informed Vaccine Decisions
Public health doctors are slapping the label of "shot limiters" on parents giving their babies fewer vaccines. It has become fashionable in medical journals and media circles3 to demonize these parents, who engage in critical thinking about vaccination and follow their conscience instead of saluting smartly and doing what doctors tell them to do ? no questions asked.
Can an attack on the legal right for Oregon parents to exercise religious exemption to vaccination be far behind?4
FDA Licenses New Combo Vaccine for Babies
Ironically, on June 14, the FDA awarded GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) a license to sell MenHibrix, a new vaccine that combines two meningitis vaccines into one shot.5,6 The FDA had rejected the license in 2010 and 2011 because, reportedly, the British drug company giant was having trouble proving the vaccine actually worked. 7
This time, FDA staff did not bother to ask for an opinion from the agency's own vaccine advisory committee before giving GSK the green light to market MenHibrix in the U.S. for babies as young as 6 weeks old. In a letter, FDA official Marion Gruber, PhD, told the company that: "We did not refer your application to an additional VRBPAC [review] because our review of information submitted in your BLA, including the clinical study design and trial results, did not raise particular concerns or controversial issues which would have benefited from an advisory committee discussion."8
Really? Sounds like some FDA officials didn't want Advisory Committee members to ask the drug company lots of questions about this new vaccine, just like CDC and AAP officials don't want parents to ask lots of questions about ANY vaccine.
Nine or 10 Vaccines Given on Same Day: Where's the Science?
MenHibrix has not yet been studied in combination with every one of the other vaccines already given to babies simultaneously.9 But that is not likely to stop pediatricians from assuming safety and throwing MenHibrix into the mix, for a grand total of nine or 10 vaccines given to tiny babies on the same day.10
Even premature babies weighing less than four and a half pounds are subjected to the mindless one-size-fits all "no exceptions" vaccine schedule.11,12 Where is the solid scientific evidence that it is safe or effective to give eight or nine vaccines to an eight or nine pound newborn?
Where is the solid evidence that babies, who get more than two-dozen doses of vaccines by age six months, are healthier as they grow up than those, who get fewer vaccines or fewer vaccines on one day? No large, prospective studies have been done comparing the long-term health outcomes of children, who are vaccinated according to the CDC schedule, with those, who are not.13
It is no wonder that smart parents ? like the ones in Oregon - are challenging the wisdom of the bloated and expensive vaccine schedule and are telling doctors and legislators: "Show Us the Science, and Give Us the Choice."14
CDC Officials Might Vote in October: What Will They Do?
The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has not yet voted on what to tell pediatricians to do with MenHibrix. That vote is rumored to be taking place in October.15
Will government health officials do the right thing and make this an optional vaccine? Or will they give another big pharmaceutical corporation a guaranteed, liability free market by adding four doses of an expensive new vaccine to the child vaccine schedule so parents can be forced to buy it and give it to their newborns ? no questions asked and no choices allowed?
Parents are watching. Stay tuned.
By Barbara Loe Fisher
This month, the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) joins with our Health Liberty partners to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the founding of the Health Liberty Coalition by Mercola.com.
For many years, NVIC and the non-profit Consumers for Dental Choice, Organic Consumers Association (OCA), Fluoride Action Network (FAN) and Institute for Responsible Technology have each worked to protect human health through public education and informed choice advocacy.i
At the heart of Health Liberty is respect for the informed consent and precautionary principles, which together serve as an ethical foundation for protecting consumer rights and ensuring product safety.
Whether it is the freedom to eat food that has not been genetically modified, drink water without fluoride in it, make voluntary vaccine choices, have access to affordable mercury free dental amalgams, or exercise the right to choose safer medical tests and options for healing and staying well, the partners of the Health Liberty coalition founded by Mercola.com are committed to protecting the consumer's right to know and freedom to choose.
Defending Informed Consent to Vaccination
Since 1982, NVIC's mission has been to prevent vaccine injuries and deaths through public education and we have defended without compromise the ethical principle of informed consent to medical risk-taking, which is a human right.ii
The consumer's right to know and freedom to make voluntary vaccine choices serves as a vital counterweight to lack of transparency and unchecked profit-making by pharmaceutical corporations shielded from civil liability for selling a growing list of vaccines that medical doctors and government officials insist every American should be legally required to buy and use.
This year, we are celebrating an awakening among Americans, who are rediscovering the power they individually have to make a difference by participating in the democratic process. That power was exercised in Vermont this year, when parents and enlightened health care professionals joined together to face down wealthy Pharma-funded medical trade lobbyists and influential state public health employees trying to take away the philosophical exemption to vaccination.
Health Liberty Award Goes to Citizens of Vermont
That is why NVIC is giving our 2012 Health Liberty Award to the independent-thinking, high spirited citizens of Vermont, who quickly organized this past January and successfully defended their informed consent rights by intelligently and responsibly participating in the democratic process.
For the past two years, the state of Vermont has been ranked as the number one "healthiest" state.iii Only 360 school children in Vermont had philosophical exemptions on file during the 2010-2011 school year,iv and we don't know how many parents filed a philosophical exemption because they could not find a pediatrician to write a medical exemption for their child. v Most pediatricians refuse to write medical exemptions because, in 2012, almost no vaccine reaction symptom or medical condition qualifies as an official reason to exempt a child medically. vi, vii
But, even though only 360 school children in Vermont were exempted from vaccination for philosophical belief reasons, that did not stop the Pharma/Medical Trade lobby from attacking the legal right for Vermonters to obtain a non-medical exemption to vaccination for their children. Clearly, they thought it would be easy to quickly ram anti-informed consent legislation through the Vermont legislature.
What they didn't count on was outraged Vermonters defending their right to know and freedom to choose.viii The legislative attack on the philosophical exemption to vaccination in Vermont generated heated political debate, national publicity and, in the end, was not only defeated but gave birth to a new public consciousness about what it takes to defend health liberty. As one of the bill's primary sponsors admitted: "I never thought this would turn into the mess it turned into."
Powerful Doctors Push Eliminating Personal Belief Exemption
The bill to eliminate the philosophical exemption to vaccination in Vermont (S199) was introduced on Jan. 3, 2012 in the state Senateix by Kevin Mullin (R-Rutland), who is VT chair of the Pharma-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).x It was introduced in the state House by Representative George Till, M.D. (D-Chittenden), at the request of Harry Chen, M.D., Vermont's Health Commissioner. Dr. Chen was a Vermont state representative and former chair of the Vermont House Health Care Committee for four years and has publicly downplayed vaccine risks.xi
The bill was supported by the VT Dept. of Health and many medical trade associations and special interest groups, including those that receive money from pharmaceutical corporations selling vaccines in the U.S., such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), March of Dimes, Every Child by Two and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
After S199 was quickly rammed through the Senate without a public hearing and passed with a nearly unanimous 25-4 vote, Vermont parents quickly organized and founded the Vermont Coalition for Vaccine Choice.xii The new Coalition's co-founder, Jennifer Stella, volunteered to be NVIC's Vermont state director and work with Dawn Richardson, NVIC's Director of Advocacy, who led a seven-year effort to obtain conscientious belief exemption to vaccination in Texas in 2003 and manages the online NVIC Advocacy Portal to educate citizens about how to become effective vaccine choice advocates.
By the end of February, the parents of seven-year old Kaylynne Matten, who died in Vermont after a routine flu shot in December 2011, began speaking out about the need to keep the philosophical exemption intact.
To learn more, please watch the following videoxiii, which includes an interview with Kaylynne's parents.
By March 15, the newly formed Vermont Coalition for Vaccine Choice held a public demonstration in Montpelier, the state Capitol.xiv The Vermont Coalition founders created a website and Facebook page and secured 1500 signatures on a petition opposing the bill.
After Vermont parents protested that the VT Senate had held no public hearings on the bill, House hearings were held March 21. The evening meeting was packed with Vermont families and health professionals opposing the billxv
Bill Rammed Through in the Senate
An amended version of S199 retaining the philosophical exemption was overwhelmingly approved by the full House on April 13.xvi While the amended version kept the philosophical exemption intact, it required parents to review vaccine benefit information and sign a statement every year acknowledging that taking the exemption will pose a risk to the health of their child and society.
On April 30, a specially appointed House and Senate Conference Committee was created. The Committee voted to keep the philosophical exemption unless the statewide vaccination rate drops below 90 percent for pertussis and MMR vaccine and, then, the Health Commissioner would suspend the philosophical exemption for those vaccines. xvii,xviii
The Vermont Coalition for Vaccination Choice and NVIC opposed the compromise. Jennifer Stella commented: "It basically says that only 10 percent of Vermonters get to use that right."
On May 3, behind the scenes modifications to the bill were made that removed the 90 percent vaccination rate cap and kept the philosophical exemption intact. However, the language, which forces parents to sign a statement that they agree that taking the exemption endangers their child and society, remained in the bill.
In addition, a "feasibility study" was added by bill supporters to pave the way for teachers and all school personnel to be required to show proof they are up-to-date on all government recommended vaccines in order to stay employed.
Philosophical Exemption Saved, Bill Signed by Governor
Without public hearings on the amended bill, it passed the House with a nearly unanimous 133-6 vote on May 3. On May 5, the Senate followed suit with a 20-5 vote and the bill was signed by Governor Peter Shumlin on May 16.
It was a victory for Vermont parents, who saved the exemption. Tom McLeod, a key member of the Vermont Coalition for Vaccine Choice, observed that "The most dangerous place in the woods is between a mother bear and her cubs." xix
The philosophical exemption to vaccination was saved because enough citizens in Vermont woke up to the very real threat posed by multi-national corporations, which have no restrictions on the aggressive marketing of liability-free vaccine products they want every American to be legally required to buy and use. Once Vermonters saw the threat, they did not sit back and let their informed consent rights be taken from them. Because they fought for their health liberty, they became an inspiration to all Americans, who want to be free to make informed, voluntary health choices.
Battle for Vaccine Choice Being Waged in Other States
The battle to protect vaccine freedom of choice in Vermont is not over, and it continues in states like West Virginia, Kansas, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and others. In California, a pediatrician legislator, Assemblyman Richard Pan, M.D., introduced a bill in February to impose restrictions on the personal belief exemption to vaccination and it was quickly passed by the Assembly and is rapidly moving through the Senate.
The California bill (AB2109) will force parents, who are filing a personal belief exemptionfor children to attend school, to pay a medical doctor or other designated medical practitioner (D.O., medical assistant, nurse practitioner or N.D. under the supervision of an M.D.) for an appointment to have the personal belief exemption form signed. Without a medical provider signature, the personal belief exemption form will not be valid and the child will be barred from attending school.
Watch an NVIC public service message about California Assembly bill AB2109.
Watch a public hearing on the CA bill.
Empower Yourself with Information and Take Action Now!
NVIC was on the front lines defending health liberty in 2011, as we have been for 30 years:
- Co-sponsoring anonline annual Vaccine Awareness Week with Mercola.com;xx, xxi
- Sponsoring informed choice messages on Delta Airlinesxxii,, xxiiiand in Times Square;xxiv, xxv
- Operating the oldest and largest vaccine safety and choice information website on the Internet and daily educating 35,000 Fans on Facebook;
- Serving as America's vaccine safety watchdog by monitoring and reporting on vaccine science,xvi regulation,xxvii policymaking xxviii,xxixand lawxxx through e-newsletters, press releases, referenced commentariesxxxi,xxxiiand special reports.xxxiii
You can be a vaccine safety and choice advocate today by becoming a user of the free online NVIC Advocacy Portal and participating in the democratic process. Go to www.NVICAdvocacy.org and use the Portal to contact your legislators with the touch of an iPhone screen or click of a computer mouse and make your voice heard.
Be part of the growing, state-based national network of concerned families and health care professionals working with NVIC and Mercola.com to protect vaccine choices in America. If we all fight for the consumer's right to know and freedom to choose, we can win back health liberty in the states, where it has been lost, and protect it in states, like Vermont, where citizens care enough and are brave enough to stand their ground.
Our mission continues: No forced vaccination. Not in America.
The Emergence of Vaccine-Induced Diseases
Why We Need a Fearless Conversation about Vaccines