The National Vaccine Information Center
407 Church Street, Suite Hreet
Vienna, VA 22180
for immediate release
March 1, 2004
PARENTS OF VACCINE INJURED CHILDREN
SUPPORT WEST VIRGINIA RELIGIOUS EXEMPTION
The National Vaccine Information Center, the nation's oldest and largest organization representing parents of vaccine injured children, endorsed the call by West Virginia parents for the right to exercise religious exemption to vaccination. West Virginia is only one of two states that does not allow parents to obey their conscience and religious convictions when making vaccination decisions for their children.
"Every vaccine carries a risk of injury or death," said NVIC co-founder and president Barbara Loe Fisher. "Those risks can be greater for children with genetic factors making them more vulnerable to suffering vaccine complications. A health care intervention involving potential significant health risks for a child should have the voluntary, informed consent of the parent who is responsible for and loves that child more than anyone else. West Virginia should not deny any citizen the freedom to obey his or her conscience or religious convictions, especially when it involves a risk of permanent disability or death."
Mandatory vaccination laws are in force in all 50 states in the U.S. but all state laws include exemptions. Medical exemptions are recognized in 50 states; personal, philosophical or conscientious belief exemptions are allowed in 17 states; and all but two states, including West Virginia, allow religious belief exemption.
During the past 25 years, the numbers of doses of vaccines which have been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for mass use by American children have nearly doubled from 23 doses of seven vaccines in 1978 to 39 doses of 12 vaccines in 2003. States and given financial incentives by the CDC to add new vaccines to mandatory requirements.
The CDC recommended universal use of hepatitis B vaccine in 1991 and chicken pox vaccine in 1995. Hepatitis B disease is primarily an adult disease occurring in IV drug users and those with multiple sexual partners. Before varicella zoster (chicken pox) vaccine was made available in the mid-1990's, about 100 Americans died from chicken pox disease complications and about 50 were adults. Chicken pox vaccine was created using the cells of aborted fetal tissue.
"The vast majority of states allow personal, conscientious or religious belief exemptions to vaccinations. A small minority of parents exercise one of those exemptions. There are no raging epidemics of deadly infectious diseases in America just because the overwhelming majority of states endorse the principle our founding fathers fought and died to give us: that the individual has inalienable rights which limit the power of the state. One of those inalienable rights is our freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our conscience. West Virginia ought to join the 48 other state governments which understand and appreciate the fundamental freedom for citizens to obey the guidance they have been given through study of scripture or prayer," said Fisher.
The National Vaccine Information Center is a national, non-profit educational organization founded in 1982 by parents of vaccine injured children. Founding members worked with Congress in the 1980's to create the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 and have served as a watchdog on vaccine research, development, policymaking and law since then. For more information, go to www.nvic.org.