New State Vaccine Bills Threaten Vaccine Choices

Posted: 4/22/2013 11:54:10 AM | with 18 comments

by Patrice La Vigne

Have you looked at the NVIC Advocacy Portal lately? There is a flurry of activity across state legislatures regarding vaccines. No wait, not a flurry, a snowstorm … even a blizzard. NVIC’s Director of Advocacy Dawn Richardson and Assistant Director of Advocacy, Cindy Loveland, have been tracking 91 bills—including companion bills that appear separately in the House and Senate—across 33 states!

More States, More Bills

Since the NVIC Advocacy Portal launched in 2010, the number of bills threatening the legal right to make informed, voluntary decisions about vaccination in America has been growing at an alarming rate. For comparison, the portal tracked 61 bills in 25 states in 2011.1

The 91 bills under consideration for 2013 represent different legislative goals for each state. But when you look at the big picture, Dawn noted that the bills have common themes: attacks on exemptions, employee vaccine mandates, tracking systems/registries, meningitis vaccine mandates and human papillomavirus (HPV) mandates.  

Restricting Exemptions is Most Important Issue To Battle

A number of proposed bills are attempting to restrict the use of conscientious or philosophical, religious and medical exemptions to mandatory vaccination laws. NVIC is spearheading an organized grassroots effort to provide fact-based information about vaccine safety and choice issues to legislators to help them understand the importance of protecting informed consent rights.  

The bills targeting non-medical exemptions for elimination from state public health laws are being supported by a wealthy and politically powerful lobbying coalition - medical trade groups and public health agencies aligned with pharmaceutical companies that take a “no exceptions” approach to mandated use of all government recommended vaccines.

Oregon and Vermont Being Targeted

In Oregon, SB 132 threatens to completely remove the religious exemption, which has always been broadly interpreted, Dawn said. Under the proposed legislation, a parent can request a non-medical, personal exemption to opt out of vaccination for a child, but not without having the additional burden of securing a signature from a state-designated medical practitioner verifying that the parents have received the state’s version of information about the risks and benefits of vaccination. Additionally, the parent will have to obtain a certificate verifying completion of an online vaccine education module.2

In Vermont, companion bills HB 138 and SB 102 suspend philosophical and religious exemptions if the vaccination rate falls below 90 percent. There has not been any floor action on these bills, which means there is still time for Vermont residents to make their opinions known to legislators.3 4

Vermont NVIC State Director Jennifer Stella noted these Vermont bills are harmful because the autonomous right to decide whether or not to inject a drug into your body or that of your child should not be contingent upon the number of people exercising that right. She strongly encourages Vermont’s elected lawmakers to consider the importance of unrestricted preservation of the fundamental human right informed consent, and not grant any further power to unelected agencies.

Forcing Teachers, Health and Child Care Workers To Vaccinate

Another hot topic across multiple states is “no exceptions” employer mandates tying vaccination status to right to employment, although this is not a new target in 2013.

In Vermont, legislators are considering SB 103 and HB 114 that would require pertussis vaccinations for teachers and child care workers. Though there has been little action on both bills, it is still a great concern that teachers, as well as child care workers, are being targeted with vaccine mandates that could end their careers.5 6

Child care workers are also being threatened in Texas. SB 64 would require licensed child care facilities to develop and implement mandatory vaccine policies. The bill passed in the Senate in March, but Dawn noted there could be opportunity for Texas residents to stop it from passing in the House.7

What is interesting in Connecticut is that SB 1128 proposes flu vaccine mandates for health care workers who have direct contact with patients and residents and HB 5539 proposes flu vaccine mandates for nursing home employees, but there is also SB 55, which prohibits any employer from mandating flu vaccine as a condition of employment.8 9 10

NVIC has a long-standing public record of voicing opposition to flu vaccine mandates that lack flexible medical, religious and conscientious belief exemptions.

NVIC Opposes Flu Vaccine Mandates

In 2012, NVIC submitted written public comments to the National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC) stating that the mandates “penalize those holding religious or conscientious belief objections to vaccinations.” NVIC stated, “It is unfair, irresponsible and unethical for employers to force health care workers to choose between their health, their deeply held spiritual or conscientious beliefs or their job.” 11

In 2013, NVIC co-founder and President Barbara Loe Fisher wrote a referenced commentary about the aggressive movement toward unfair employer mandates and how several major labor unions, such as the American Nurses Association and Services Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Employees Union, oppose such mandates.12

More Harassment Reports On Freedom Wall

Additionally, there is an increasing number of harassment reports made by adult workers to NVIC’s Vaccine Freedom Wall describing how they are being threatened or fired from their jobs for declining vaccination.13

Dawn and Cindy are working hard to help vaccine choice advocates warn the public that bills of this nature in Vermont, Texas, Connecticut and all the other states need to be opposed and legislators need to be educated.

“We can only do so much by getting the information out there,” Dawn said. “The people directly affected by the removal of vaccine exemptions from state laws have to speak up and defend their informed consent rights.”  

Children and Students Targeted for Meningitis Vaccine Mandates

The questions of necessity, effectiveness, safety and cost come into play when considering the more recent disease-specific mandates that are being placed on adolescents, teenagers and college-age adults.

Several states are pushing the meningitis vaccine. In Tennessee, the governor signed SB 93 into law on April 12, 2013, and now any incoming public college student will be required to receive the meningitis vaccine as a condition of enrollment as of July 1, 2013.14

In Missouri, SB 421 would require children at age 11 years and again at age 16 years to receive the meningitis vaccine.15

NVIC has always questioned the calls by pharma, medical trade groups and public health officials to push widespread use of meningitis vaccine, including the fact that meningococcal disease is rare in the United States, the vaccine itself does not cover all prevalent meningococcal strains and it is a very costly vaccine.16

HPV Vaccine Mandates, Too

Ever since the HPV vaccine was approved, there has been heated debate on the issue. Virginia and Washington, D.C. are the only two states to require HPV vaccine for middle school attendance, but both states allow an “opt out” provision and do not require parents to formally file a medical or religious exemption.

This year, Virginia had HB1614 up for consideration to require HPV vaccine for ALL children with the first dose given before the child enters the sixth grade.

Although the bill died in the House, the wording of the bill expanded the mandate to boys, a major source of new debate.17

CA Assembly Health Committee Vetoes Good Bill

Last week, the CA Assembly Health Committee voted to shelve a bill (AB 599) that would have reversed a previously passed bill (AB 499) allowing minors as young as 12 years old to receive vaccines for sexually transmitted diseases, including HPV and hepatitis B, without parental knowledge or consent.18

NVIC and many parents and health care professionals opposed AB499 and, when Governor Jerry Brown signed AB499 into law, NVIC issued a press release calling the act “a violation of parental informed consent.”19

Monitoring Citizens with Vaccine Tracking Registries

In terms of government-operated vaccine tracking registries, some states, such as Texas, are attempting to remove informed consent rights from the intrusive electronic registries like in SB 40 and HB 77220 21, while others, such as Idaho and North Dakota, are expanding childhood tracking systems to include adults.

According to Dawn, the challenge with reaching legislators is that they have been getting inaccurate and misleading information for so many years from medical trade groups, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, and there needs to be a paradigm shift.  

“We have good information and good people contacting legislators,” she said. “When our members contact legislators, often they come back with hard questions. We need people to take ownership of the vaccine safety and informed consent issue, do the hard work and actively educate their legislators.”

Act Now for Vaccine Safety and Informed Consent Rights

Using the NVIC Advocacy Portal is free. Please sign up and also consider making a donation of $10 or more to NVIC to support operation of the Portal and expansion of the vaccine safety and informed consent movement in America. To make your charitable, tax-deductible donation to NVIC’s public education and advocacy work click here, or make your donation using your PayPal account.

NVIC Calendar Notes

Federal Vaccine Advisory Committee Meetings:

NVIC in the News

  • Study Debunks Common Autism Worry About Vaccines - NVIC co-founder and President Barbara Loe Fisher says in this article that the DeStefano vaccines-autism study is not reassuring to parents. She highlights the lack of a control group of unvaccinated children and the disregard for genetic and biological factors affecting the children’s susceptibility to vaccines. Barbara is quoted in saying, “There is an urgent need for a well-designed, prospective long-term study that includes vaccinated and unvaccinated infants and children conducted by nonindustry, nongovernmental investigators to evaluate not only all the morbidity and mortality outcomes, but also to measure pathological changes in the brain and immune function over time in both groups.” Read the full story at American Medical News, Tanya Albert Henry, Apr. 15, 2013.  
  • Making An Informed HPV Vaccine Decision - Veteran health journalist and radio show host Linda O'Connor interviews NVIC's Barbara Loe Fisher on the Gardasil vaccine controversy and defending the right of parents to make informed HPV vaccine choices for their children on her Buffalo, NY "Parent Talk" radio show.  Listen to the podcast on the Breeze radio (FM102.9 and AM1230) on Apr. 13, 2013.

Visit our News and Media Reports webpage to read our latest press releases and media coverage of NVIC.

In the News

  • New York Kindergartner banned from School After Vaccine Refusal - School officials in Staten Island, N.Y., denied a kindergartener the right to attend school because her mother refused to get her the chickenpox vaccine, fearing the vaccine could harm her newborn baby. A hereditary immune disorder runs in the Wagner family, and although it is unknown if the baby has it, the family pediatrician recommended against the vaccine. The Wagner family applied to the New York City Department of Education for a medical exemption, but was denied. Read the full story at ABC News, Apr. 9, 2013. 
  • New York Requires Health Workers to Wear Masks - The New York State Department of Health passed a rule for all unvaccinated employees, students and volunteers in healthcare, hospital, home health and long-term health facilities wear a surgical or procedure mask while patients or residents are present during the influenza season. According to Crain’s New York Business, 10 groups provided public comments in opposition. Although the New York State Nurses Association and 1199 SEIU encourage vaccination, they oppose mandatory vaccination. Read the full story on the New York Department of Health website, and Crain’s New York Business, Apr. 11, 2013.
  • UK Pushes Measles Vaccination Sessions - Measles vaccination sessions are taking place at 13 schools this week across South Wales in response to a growing measles epidemic centered on the Swansea area. In one day, more than 1,800 people received the measles vaccination across four drop-in clinics. Last week, there were 808 cases of measles and one death, and updated numbers are due out from Public Health Wales this week. Read the full story here. Wales Online (UK), Apr. 22, 2013. 
  • Ten Percent of Population Has Learning Disabilities - Learning disabilities affect up to 10 percent of the population, according to a new study. The findings also show that children and young adults often have more than one disability and need individualized support in the classroom to tailor educational programs to address a combination of disabilities. Read the full story here. Science Daily. Apr. 18, 2013. 
Click to View and Access References

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CDC Reports 1 in 50 American Children Diagnosed with Autism

Posted: 4/10/2013 10:31:42 AM | with 0 comments
According to a new report that has generated significant debate in mainstream media and all over the Internet, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 1 in 50 children between the ages of 6 and 17 has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).1 This represents a 72% increase in the diagnosis since 2007, when a similar report claimed a rate of 1 in 88 children.2
 
The new study, undertaken to evaluate a fourfold increase in parent-reported ASD,3 was based on telephone surveys of households with children and compared parent-reported autism diagnoses in 2011-2012 with similar reporting for 2007. The new report revealed increases in diagnosis of autism across nearly all categories but, as is often the case in a discussion of autism, there is more to the story than a simple, though alarming, upward trend.
 
Increased Diagnosis of Autism in Boys and Adolescents
 
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) comprises a wide range of disability, but generally includes an element of difficulty in communication, behavior and social interaction. The information gathered from the 2012 survey showed that much of the increase in diagnosis was in children whose disability was on the mild end of the autism spectrum, which often is not recognized until a child starts school and differences in learning style become apparent.
 
Supporting this finding, the 2012 data also showed that many of the new diagnoses of autism were among children identified at a later age than those from the earlier report.4 Although the survey revealed significant increases in ASD reported for all age groups, the increase in prevalence was most dramatic among school-aged boys and in adolescents between 14 and 17 years of age.  Generally, boys were found to be four times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with autism.
 
CDC Researchers Say Increases Reflect Greater Awareness
 
While government researchers admitted they cannot be certain of the reasons behind the upward trend in numbers of children parents report as having been diagnosed with autism, they concluded that better testing methods, changes in diagnostic services and increased awareness of ASD among parents, educators and health care professionals probably explain the striking rise in autism prevalence.5 They suggested that the prenatal period may play a role in risk for developing ASD, claiming that supports the argument that the significant increase in prevalence noted in the 6–13 year age group reflects a change in recognition of the disorder, rather than in a true rise in numbers of children affected with autism in the U.S.6 
 
However, looking further back, it has been noted that there has been a 600% increase in diagnosis of autism over the past 20 years, with only a third attributable to better awareness and diagnosis of autism. The other two thirds has been linked by many researchers to genetics and environmental factors impacting on genetic expression.7
 
Can Better Awareness Explain a 72% Increase in Prevalence Over Five years?
 
The debate over whether the obvious increase in prevalence of autism among children reflects a significant rise in the incidence of the disorder or, as these CDC researchers contend, is a simple indication of improvements in recognition and diagnosis of the disorder has been raging for 25 years. Over that period, one thing is clear: More children have autism than ever before.
 
Many physicians now acknowledge that development of regressive autism probably has multiple causes and many questions remain about the biology, prevention and treatment of the disorder. Whether the increase in prevalence is due to flawed study methods, improvements in recognition and diagnosis, broad new criteria for definition of ASD, brain inflammation/encephalopathy following vaccination or a domino effect of multiple factors leading to increased incidence of the developmental disorder, this is a public discussion that will and should continue. Read the full report

CA Health Professionals and Parents Pack CalJam and San Diego Vaccine Informed Consent Talks

Barbara Loe Fisher with participantsOn March 26, 2013, NVIC's President, Barbara Loe Fisher spoke on "Vaccines: An Informed Perspective" at a sold-out event in San Diego, where more than 500 parents, doctors of chiropractic, midwives and other holistic health care providers attended.

The event was coordinated by Drs. Joe and Stacey Merlo, of Good Vibrations Family Chiropractic and the San Diego County Chiropractors United.

On March 22, Barbara gave a presentation "Knowledge is Power and Freedom is Not Free" to an audience of 2,500 doctors of chiropractic and supporters of chiropractic at California Jam, organized by Dr. Billy DeMoss, at the Segerstrom Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa. From left to right: Dr. Joe Merlo, Barbara Loe Fisher, Dr. Stacey Merlo.

NVIC in the News

NVIC billboards seen in Arizona, Illinois, Texas and Oregon, have gotten people talking. The billboard’s message, “Vaccinations? Know the risks and failures,” encourages viewers to become informed before making a vaccine choice for themselves and their children.

Read more about what people are saying about NVIC’s billboards:
Some parents are choosing to expose their children to the chickenpox rather than have them vaccinated. NVIC President Barbara Loe Fisher is quoted in this article saying that parents should educate themselves on potential side effects of both the chickenpox vaccine and the infection and make their own informed decision about what is best for their child. “We do not advise people what to do,” says Barbara. “We empower them with information and encourage people to talk with one or more health care professionals that they trust before making a decision.”  Read more of this story at KOMO News, Rose Egge, April 4, 2013.
 
Midwest Health & Wellness Magazine - In the current issue of Midwest Health and Wellness Magazine, NVIC has a full-page ad urging readers to become more informed and "Know the Risks and Failures" of vaccinations. The quarterly magazine reaches more than 4 million health-conscious consumers in the Midwest every year. The magazine is distributed in spas and salons, fitness centers, health food stores, health clinics and patient waiting rooms. Read the magazine issue here.
 
In the News

Debate Over Creation of New H7N9 Bird Flu Vaccine - Medical experts around the world are discussing the potential threat posed by a new strain of bird flu (H7N9) that has killed 6 of 14 people infected in China, including arguments over whether to begin mass production of a H7N9 flu vaccine.  To date, there has not been any indication of person-to-person transmission of the H7N9 flu, and China has expressed confidence that it can control the outbreak. Wendy Barclay, a flu virologist at Imperial College London, cited financial considerations as one major argument against moving too soon, noting that money spent for intensive research to develop vaccines “…could be pouring money down a drain because it could be that the barriers for this virus are high enough that we don't need to worry about it." Read the full story in the Deccan Chronicle, Apr. 7, 2013. 
 
Influenza Vaccination Should Never Be Made Compulsory - Guest columnist DANIEL O'ROARK has crafted a thoughtful argument against compulsory influenza vaccination programs, specifically those aimed at forcing health care workers to submit to annual flu shots. Basing his observations on an extensive review of the medical literature regarding influenza and the flu vaccine, Dr. O’Roark addresses the ethics of mandatory medical interventions, the safety and efficacy of the influenza vaccine and the possible reasons for the pro-vaccine stance among health officials. Read the full story in the Times-News, Mar. 23, 2013.
 
ADHD on the rise: 1 in 5 high school-age boys diagnosed with hyperactivity - A new report from the CDC reveals that one in every five high school-aged boys has been diagnosed with for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The study further reported that 11% of all school-aged children are being diagnosed with ADHD, and the numbers have increased by 16% just since 2007 and 53% over the last decade. Of those diagnosed, two thirds are thought to be taking prescription stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall. Read the full story in the New York Times, Alan Schwartz, Mar. 31, 2013.

Influenza vaccination should never be made compulsory. Times-News, Daniel O'Roark, Mar. 23, 2013

References for CDC/Autism Article


3 Boyle CA, Boulet S, Schieve LA et al. Trends in the Prevalence of Developmental Disabilities in US children, 1997– 2008. Pediatrics 127(6): 1034–42. 2011. 
 
4 Willingham E. Autism Prevalence Is Now At 1 In 50 Children. Forbes. March 2013. 
 
7 Gordon J. CDC: One in Every Fifty Children Has Autism . Huffington Post. March 2013.

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NVIC Website Enhancements

Posted: 4/9/2013 11:56:33 AM | with 0 comments
Theresa Wrangham, NVIC Executive Director
 
Over the past several months NVIC has improved our website to make your access to information easier. We hope you have noticed, but in case you haven’t, here is a brief overview of our latest enhancements!
 
Disease & Vaccine Webpages Get Facelift
 
Have you ever been reading through our Disease and Vaccine information webpages and run across a word and have trouble remembering the meaning of that word?  Some of the old and newly posted information or medical literature references may include medical terms that are unfamiliar.
 
To assist our readers, we have uploaded the Merriam Webster’s Medical Dictionary widget onto our Disease and Vaccine webpages. This intuitive widget floats down the selected webpage as the user reads about risks associated with diseases and vaccines, while allowing users to type terms into the widget’s search feature on the spot. Definitions are provided in a new webpage and the reader can easily return to their selected NVIC webpage and pick up reading where they left off. 
 
We also hope you have found the new Quick Facts box provided on our Disease and Vaccine webpages to be useful. Quick Facts was designed to give you an overview of basic information regarding the selected disease and vaccine, but is no substitute for the more detailed information below the Quick Facts box – so please read on!
 
We are continuing to update these webpages to standardize format and ensure that each Disease and Vaccine section contains similar relevant information. It is a work in progress!
 
Get the Facts on Staying Healthy during Flu Season
 
Did you know that adult influenza vaccine injury claims are the leading claim submitted to the federal vaccine injury compensation program (VICP), and the third most frequently compensated claim? With the increasing pressure for you to get a flu shot, now it is more important than ever before to make informed vaccination decisions.
 
Because no vaccine is 100% safe or effective, NVIC has created a seasonal influenza brochure containing easy to understand facts about influenza and the seasonal influenza vaccine. Download it and pass it on to your family and friends!
 
Keeping Current with Vaccine Exemption Law Information
 
It is a tall order to keep our state law webpages current and we owe many thanks to our readers, volunteers and our advocacy portal staff for helping to keep this information current. New to our state law webpage’s Quick Facts box are more generalized information links that are most likely to lead website visitors to the vaccine law and exemption information they seek.
 
If one of our more detailed links, like the K-12 school vaccine exemption form, doesn’t provide you with the information you are looking for, try using the general information link we have provided in the Quick Facts box. If you find a broken link, now you can send us an email from the state law webpage you are viewing to let us know and we will repair it as soon as possible. 
 
State Law Pages Updated With Health Care Worker Vaccine Mandate Information
 
Our state law webpages also reflect an increase in vaccine mandates as a condition for employment for personnel working in hospitals, medical facilities and in other workplaces interfacing with the public. Each webpage contains a link titled: Vaccination Requirements for Healthcare Workers, Patients, Inmates & Developmentally Disabled which leads to information compiled by the federal Centers of Disease Control (CDC), which is advocating for increased vaccination requirements for health care workers and other adult populations. This information also contains information on limited vaccine exemptions that are allowed for employees working in medical settings. 
 
Additions to NVIC FAQs – Adoption and HepB Vaccine at Birth
 
NVIC receives many inquiries throughout the year and we have a section of our website devoted to Frequently Asked Questions, or FAQs. Sometimes we get asked a new question because the vaccine mandate landscape shifts and we adapt to shift with it. 
 
Where adoption is concerned, and being adopted myself, I know that there has been a tightening of vaccine requirements for children being adopted! Today, many adoptions are now between U.S. parents and foreign-born children. This shift in adoption patterns has changed vaccination requirements.
 
There are federal vaccine requirements for foreign adoptions and there may also be requirements in the child’s country of origin. If you are considering a foreign adoption, or know someone who is, please read or pass on our adoption FAQ.
 
New Parents Threatened With Loss of Custody Over Vaccine Refusal
 
While there is no legal federal or state requirement in the U.S. that newborns receive a hepatitis B shot at birth, NVIC has seen an increase in reports of coercion and forced vaccination of newborns. In fact, one couple has filed a civil rights lawsuit against a Pennsylvania social worker and Hershey Medical Center staff for taking their newborn from them for the purpose of vaccinating their baby against their explicit wishes. 
 
In response to the rise in these reports, NVIC has created a new FAQ at www.NVIC.org to answer many questions we receive on this topic. We encourage our readers to pass this information on to any moms-to-be who may be unaware that their vaccination decisions for their babies being born in hospitals and birthing centers may not be respected. Visit our FAQ webpage and learn more about steps you can take to avoid confrontation.
 
Act Now to Protect YOUR Rights!
 
Health care worker flu shot mandates as a condition of employment and civil rights violations, which involve hepatitis B vaccination of newborns without parental informed consent, are only the tip of the iceberg. The landscape of voluntary vaccine decision-making is changing in America as medical informed consent rights are being eroded.
 
NVIC’s free Advocacy Portal is providing an online communication and advocacy network for vaccine choice advocates, who are educating themselves about the public health laws in their states and working with their legislators to insure that forced vaccination has no place in America. Won’t you join with them and make a difference?
 
We have more website improvements on the way, so please explore our website. NVIC.org is the largest and oldest consumer-operated website on the Internet providing information on diseases and vaccines and is full of information that is changing all the time. If there is an enhancement you would like us to consider, please contact us with your ideas!
 

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