by Barbara Loe Fisher
No matter who you are or where you live, it is difficult to be part of a minority. It takes courage to follow your conscience. It takes courage to stand up and speak out for what you know is right when you are being targeted and sanctioned by those who claim it is their right to bully and shun you for who you are or what you believe.
This is especially true for those speaking out and standing up for the right to make informed, voluntary choices about using vaccines, a pharmaceutical product that carries a risk of harm and failure that can be greater for some than others. 1 2 3
Informed Consent to Medical Risk-Taking: A Human Right
The freedom to make voluntary decisions about what you are willing to risk your life or the life of your child for is a human and civil right.
It is a human right to exercise voluntary, informed consent to medical risk taking,4 5 6
including taking risks with pharmaceutical products like vaccines. In America, parents of minor children have the legal right and responsibility to make medical risk decisions for their children.7 8 9
Freedom of Thought, Speech & Belief: A Civil Right
Under the U.S. Constitution, Americans are guaranteed the civil right to exercise freedom of thought, speech and belief.10 11 12
The right to dissent and petition the government for redress of grievances and hold beliefs that may differ from ones held by the majority is protected because our nation’s founders understood that minorities must be protected from oppression by the majority.13
Targeted, Bullied, Shunned and Sanctioned
In America today, some citizens are being discriminated against and persecuted for following their conscience and making vaccine choices that do not conform with federal health policy. They are being targeted, bullied, shunned and sanctioned. 14 15
and politically powerful special interest groups 17 18 19 20
associated with private drug companies 21
and medical trade associations22
have joined with government health officials23 24
and lobbying state legislators to eliminate or severely restrict the legal right to exercise informed consent to vaccine risk taking.25 26 27
Laws Passed Restricting Non-Medical Exemptions
In the past three years, laws have been passed in the states of Washington,28
requiring parents filing non-medical exemptions to either undergo state mandated vaccine “education” or beg for signatures from pediatricians already refusing to provide medical care to children who do not get all 69 doses of 16 federally recommended vaccines right on schedule.31
Colorado Preserves Personal Belief Exemption
But this year in Colorado, concerned citizens turned out in force to publicly object to similar attempts by professional lobbyists to restrict vaccine informed consent rights.32
On May 2, 2014 the Colorado legislature became the first to vote to preserve the personal belief exemption to vaccination without modification.33
NVIC’s Pro-Vaccine Choice Message in Times Square
The same day that legislators in Colorado voted to affirm freedom of conscience in America, a pro-education, pro-vaccine choice message sponsored by the National Vaccine Information Center was up on the CBS Jumbotron in Times Square celebrating freedom of speech.34
The message is simple: “Vaccinations? Know the risks and failures: Your Health. Your Family. Your Choice.” That 24-hour message in the heart of Broadway on 42nd
Street between 7th
Avenues in New York City is going to stay there through mid-July.
NVIC Publishes Vaccine Law Reform Guide
Today, the National Vaccine Information Center is launching a national campaign to secure vaccine safety and informed consent protections in state vaccine policies and laws. We have published a fully referenced guide for legislators and the public called Reforming Vaccine Policy and Law
and you can view or download it for free online on NVIC.org.35
I wrote this Guide and it is anchored with more than 240 references and explains in detail why laws should be passed in every state to maximize vaccine safety for those choosing to use vaccines while protecting the legal right to get an education, hold a job, receive health insurance and medical care, enter a hospital or nursing home and function in society without being forced to get every government recommended vaccine.
These legal rights are important to preserve because, first, we are not all the same.36 37
We do not all respond the same way to drugs or vaccines just like we do not all respond the same way to infectious diseases.38
High Vaccination Rates and Vaccine Failures
Public health officials admit that for more than 30 years, the U.S. has had a 95% plus vaccination rate among children entering kindergarten for at least seven vaccines, including pertussis.39 40
Now, public health officials admit that children and adults can be fully vaccinated and still get infected with and transmit B. pertussis whooping cough to others without even knowing it.4142
There have been recent reported outbreaks of mumps and measles among fully vaccinated children and adults and the influenza vaccine has a less than 60 percent rate of effectiveness in most years.43 44 45 46 47
Pharma Shielded from Civil Liability
At the same time, the federal government has paid out nearly $3 billion dollars to victims of vaccine injury since Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986.48
That law banned most vaccine injury lawsuits against drug companies selling vaccines and doctors giving them49
and, in 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court went one step further and gave vaccine manufacturers a complete product liability shield – even when vaccines could have been made safer!50
This sealed a cruel fate for the two out of three vaccine victims denied compensation under the federal vaccine injury compensation program.51
Now drug companies can fast track and market new vaccines52
that may be more reactive and less effective than they should be because there is no legal accountability for anyone who develops, regulates, markets, gives and promotes vaccine use.
Individual Susceptibility = Unequal Vaccine Risk Burden
During the past three decades, the Institute of Medicine has published a series of reports pointing out the large gaps in vaccine safety science,53 54
confirming that some people are genetically, biologically and environmentally more susceptible to suffering brain inflammation and other types of serious vaccine reactions but doctors often do not know who will be injured or die from vaccination.55 56
It has become very clear that one-size-fits-all vaccine policies place a disproportionate and unequal risk burden on those more vulnerable to vaccine harm.57
Have you or your child already discovered you are a member of that vulnerable minority who is at increased risk for vaccine injury- or do you have a relative or friend who is?
If so, then you understand why a law that compels everyone to use a pharmaceutical product which carries an unpredictable and greater risk of injury or death for a minority of vulnerable individuals – most of whom do not even know who they are – is not humane. There is nothing moral or just about a government policy that facilitates a de facto selection of certain individuals for sacrifice in the name of the public health.
Every Life Is Important
Every life is important and it is time for all Americans to stand up, speak out and take action to defend our human and civil rights when it comes to vaccine risk taking. Join with NVIC and help us secure vaccine safety informing, reporting and informed consent provisions in all vaccine policies and laws to protect both those who choose to use every government recommended vaccine and those who don’t.
What you choose to do, what we all choose to do right now will determine what kind of America we leave to our children and grandchildren. Because if the state can tag, track down and force individuals against their will to be injected with biological products of known and unknown toxicity today, there will be no limit on which individual freedoms the state can take away in the name of the greater good tomorrow.
It’s your health. Your family. Your choice.
Institute of Medicine Vaccine Safety Committee. Adverse Effects of Pertussis and Rubella Vaccines: Afterward on Research Needs
. Washington, DC. The National Academies Press
Institute of Medicine Vaccine Safety Committee. Adverse Events Association with Childhood Vaccines: Evidence Bearing on Causality: Need for Research and Surveillance.
Washington, D.C. The National Academies Press
1994. Also see Reference # 1.
56 Institute of Medicine Committee on the Assessment of Studies of Health Outcomes Related to the Recommended Childhood Immunization Schedule. The Childhood Immunization Schedule and Safety: Stakeholder Concerns, Scientific Evidence and Future Studies: Conclusions About Scientific Findings
and Review of Scientific Findings.
Washington, DC: The National Academies Press
Just before midnight on Friday, May 2nd
2014, members of the Colorado House of Representatives voted 39 to 29 to accept the Senate-modified version of HB 1288
that rejected a requirement forcing parents filing a personal belief vaccine exemption for their children to undergo state-mandated vaccine “education” or obtain a signature from a pediatrician or other state-approved vaccine provider. Removal of the signature requirement and re-education component of the bill is a victory for the hundreds of concerned Colorado citizens who contacted their legislators and worked closely with NVIC’s state advocacy team to present testimony in public hearings in the House
Legislators Listened to Constituents and Affirmed Parental Rights
“Many legislators took the time to listen to constituents expressing deep concern about a bill that would penalize parents for making medical decisions for their children,” explained NVIC Colorado State Advocacy Director Cindy Loveland. “This action shows that a majority of Colorado legislators support and trust parents to make informed vaccination decisions for their children without interference from the state.”
NVIC Executive Director Theresa Wrangham, who represented NVIC in a 2013 public engagement project examining the state’s personal belief exemption, testified at both public hearings and added, “I am proud to be a Colorado parent and stand with such an articulate and responsible group of parents who understood the stakes. They used NVIC's Advocacy Portal tools to pull together and uphold parental rights and defend informed consent.”
Colorado First State to Protect Personal Belief Exemption Without Modification
Colorado is one of 17 states that allows an exemption to vaccination for personal, philosophical or conscientious beliefs. This year’s orchestrated and well-publicized campaign by politically powerful groups associated with pharmaceutical companies, public health and other medical trade associations to restrict the personal belief vaccine exemption in Colorado was similar to campaigns waged in Washington
and Oregon between 2011 and 2013.
Washington and California passed laws compelling parents filing a personal belief exemption to first obtain a signature from a doctor or state designated health care worker, while Oregon mandated state-vaccine education and Vermont now requires parents to sign a statement acknowledging the risks of remaining unvaccinated. Colorado is the first state to protect the personal belief exemption currently in state public health law without modification.
Contentious Bill Provision Opens Door for Harassment
The stripped-down version of HB1288 heading to Governor John Hickenlooper’s desk for signature still contains provisions that NVIC opposes. The final bill requires every daycare facility and school in the state to publicly release vaccination rates, which opens the door for identification of children with a medical, religious or personal belief exemption on file with daycare facilities and elementary, middle and high schools.
Commenting on the bill’s potential for targeting of families with children taking vaccine exemptions, Dawn Richardson, NVIC’s Advocacy Director said, “While the bill no longer contains an offensive and discriminatory state enforced re-education requirement, what remains in HB 1288 could open the door to revealing which children in the daycare centers or schools have filed vaccine exemptions and make them vulnerable to harassment. In addition, much of what is still in the bill can be accomplished under current state statutes. The Governor should veto it.”
The bill, which becomes effective July 1, 2014, also requires the state health department to establish “a joint policy on immunization data collection and sharing” in consultation with other state departments.” In addition, it gives the state heath department discretion to require parents filing personal belief exemptions to re-file them more than once.
Take Action Now - Register for the NVIC Advocacy Portal Today
To review the complete history of NVIC’s efforts on HB 1288 and be notified by email of what happens if the Governor signs the bill, sign up and become a user of the free online NVIC Advocacy Portal
and link to the Action Alerts on the Colorado state team page.
Watch a video
of the final House vote and discussion (starting at 5:19:20) and read details
(pages 43-44) about the final House vote on May 2 in the Colorado General Assembly House Journal.
Thank You and Appeal for Vigilance
“Thank you to each and every citizen in Colorado who took the time to get involved in the legislative process and work through the NVIC Advocacy Portal to make your voice heard,” said Dawn Richardson. “We are grateful to legislators in Colorado for keeping an open mind and taking seriously the legitimate concerns of informed parents and health care professionals defending the legal right to make voluntary vaccination decisions.”
NVIC is encouraging everyone in Colorado and every state to stay engaged and continue to educate community leaders and legislators over the summer and fall and be prepared to respond if similar legislation is reintroduced.
“The forced vaccination lobby has a long term goal of persuading legislators to eliminate all non-medical vaccine exemptions,” said Theresa Wrangham. “We have to remain vigilant and ready to take action in every state. The best way for families and health care professionals to do that is by plugging into the NVIC Advocacy Portal so we can work together to respond in an effective way.”