What the Media, Medical Trade and Pharma Do Not Want You to Know
By The NVIC Advocacy Team
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State vaccine laws and the legal right to vaccine exemptions are hot topics in America. Between 2015 and 2017, the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), a non-profit charity, closely monitored state legislation and analyzed and issued positions on 454 vaccine-related bills through the NVIC Advocacy Portal (NVICAP).
The NVICAP is a free online vaccine choice advocacy network that was launched by NVIC in 2010 to protect and expand the legal right to exercise informed consent to vaccination in the U.S. NVIC’s mission since 1982 has been to prevent vaccine injuries and deaths through public education and to secure and defend informed consent protections in vaccine policies and laws, including protecting flexible medical, religious and conscientious belief vaccine exemptions.
In 2015, the NVICAP team responded to more vaccine related bills than were filed in any previous year: 160 bills across 41 states. This record was shattered two years later in 2017 when NVIC tracked and published information on an all-time record of 184 proposed vaccine bills filed in 42 state legislatures.
Mainstream media continues to cite the passage of two 2015 bills, California SB277, which eliminated the personal belief and religious vaccine exemption, and Vermont H98, which removed only the philosophical exemption, as evidence that public support for vaccine exemptions is waning. 1 This is a myth easily refuted by looking at the real evidence.
Over the last three years it has been easy to find biased articles and newspaper OpEds in favor of “no exceptions” forced vaccination laws. Articles featuring individuals advocating for the removal of vaccine exemptions and opposing the expansion of exemptions are portrayed in a positive light. 2 3 There is also a distinct trend to portray individuals, who oppose bills that eliminate vaccine exemptions and support bills expanding exemptions, in a negative light. 4 5 However, this clear media bias fails to tell the truth about what really occurred in state legislatures around the country since 2015, when only two states removed personal belief vaccine exemptions.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which has adopted and actively promoted through their state chapters the extreme position to “eliminate non-medical exemptions for school entry,” acknowledges the backlash caused by pushing bills that propose to strip public health laws of vaccine exemptions. 6 At a debate held at the AAP’s annual conference in September 2017, there was discussion about the fact that the position of outright elimination of personal belief exemptions may “embolden” parents. 7 A recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association admits there is uncertainty about the effectiveness of policies to remove a parent’s ability to obtain a religious or conscientious belief exemption so a child can attend daycare or be educated in a public or private school. 8
Neither of these medical trade associations accurately depicts the extent to which passage of the two bills eliminating exemptions in California and Vermont have inspired grassroots vaccine informed consent advocates in every state to become even more active and effective. The medical trade and Pharma lobby, as well as public health officials promoting heavy-handed implementation of the federally recommended childhood vaccine schedule, do not want to acknowledge there is a strong growing backlash against inflexible implementation of vaccine laws.
State Vaccine Legislation in America Table of Contents
FOLLOW THE MONEY
While it is rare to find registered lobbyists for vaccine manufacturers directly testifying in favor of a bill eliminating vaccine exemptions, Pharma’s fingerprints are all over lobbying efforts to influence the outcome of proposed vaccine bills severely restricting or removing vaccine choices. There are a number of vocal advocacy organizations promoting forced vaccination which receive financial contributions and support from pharmaceutical corporations that make big profits from mandatory vaccination laws requiring all children to get federally recommended vaccines.
The CDC’s childhood vaccine schedule of 69 doses of 16 vaccines alone is worth billions of dollars to drug companies marketing vaccines. Every vaccine that a state mandates guarantees vaccine manufacturers liability free profits under the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act and a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2011 which effectively eliminated all product liability for vaccine injuries and deaths caused by government licensed vaccines recommended for children. 9 10 11
Every Child By Two (ECBT) identifies multiple vaccine manufacturers among sources of funding, including GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Pfizer, and Sanofi Pasteur. 12 A non-profit organization, ECBT actively lobbies in state legislatures and in Congress to promote mandatory vaccination and the elimination of vaccine exemptions, as well to secure increased funding for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other government agencies developing, licensing, making policy for and promoting universal use of federally recommended vaccines. 13 An ECBT board member, who is executive director of the California Immunization Action Coalition, was instrumental in lobbying efforts in the California legislature to pass the bill (SB277) that removed California’s personal belief vaccine exemption in 2015. 14 15
The California Immunization Coalition is a network member of the non-profit Immunization Action Coalition (IAC), which is funded by Astra Zeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Pfizer, Sanofi Pasteur and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).16 17 Among members of IAC’s Advisory Board are vaccine developers and current or former CDC officials and mandatory vaccination proponents, including developers of Merck’s rubella and rotavirus vaccines, Stanley Plotkin, MD, PhD and Paul Offit, MD. 18 19 20 21
Voices for Vaccines, which has lobbied in Colorado, Virginia and other state legislatures for the removal of vaccine exemptions, is an administrative program of the Atlanta-based non-profit Task Force for Global Health (TFGH), which was founded in 1984 by a former Director of the CDC to raise childhood vaccination rates globally. 22 Among TFGH funders are Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, and the Centers for Disease Control, The World Health Organization and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 23 Scientific Advisory Board members of Voices for Vaccines include the founder and director of the Immunization Action Coalition (IAC), Dr. Stanley Plotkin, Dr. Paul Offit, and a former CDC Director of Immunization. 24
The Immunization Partnership (TIP) is a Texas based coalition dedicated to eradicating diseases through the universal use of vaccines facilitated by electronic vaccine tracking registries and implementation of mandatory vaccination laws. TIP is funded in part by Merck, GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer and counts as one of its biggest accomplishments that it “screened more than 50,000 immunization records and recalled more than 14,000 patients back into clinics to get up-to-date on their vaccines through the Immunization Champions project.” 25 Peter Hotez, MD, PhD, a vaccine developer and well known forced vaccination proponent, serves as a Director for TIP. 26 27 28 During the 2017 legislative session in Texas, TIP representatives directly gave testimony and lobbied for bills that would make it harder for families to decline vaccines or choose to vaccinate their children using a schedule that differs from the CDC’s recommended schedule. 29 30
Contrary to what the corporate and government dominated media is reporting and would like the public to believe, many enlightened state legislators are listening to concerned constituents. They are supporting parental rights and the ethical principle of informed consent, which are protected in vaccine laws that contain flexible medical and personal belief exemptions.
What has largely been ignored or misrepresented by the media, medical trade, and Pharma during the 2015-2017 timeframe is a growing public awareness about vaccine risks and failures and the increasing number of well informed Americans who are advocating for vaccine freedom of choice because they understand the need to protect informed consent rights by securing and protecting vaccine exemptions in public health laws.
THE TRUTH BY NUMBERS
In 2014, the NVIC Advocacy Portal tracked 91 bills across 28 states. Over the course of the 2015-2017 legislative sessions, the number of vaccine related bills for which NVIC issued position statements and the number of states affected by bills proposing to restrict or eliminate vaccine freedom of choice dramatically increased. However, the numbers also clearly show that as the grassroots vaccine safety and informed consent movement grows, a lower percentage of bad bills require opposition because a higher percentage of good bills are being filed by legislators that deserve support. Most importantly, the numbers and percentages of bills passing that negatively affect vaccine exemptions and threaten informed consent rights are significantly decreasing because more legislators are resisting aggressive lobbying efforts by medical trade and Pharma to make the vaccination system more oppressive than it already is in the U.S.
In a nutshell, slowly but surely as a result of years of hard work, grassroots vaccine education and informed consent advocacy in the U.S. is achieving tangible results. To keep this trend moving in the right direction, everyone needs to get involved and continue to educate and personally communicate with his or her own legislators. The best way to get real time accurate information about what actions you can take to help protect vaccine informed consent rights in your state is to register as a user of the free online NVIC Advocacy Portal.
THE REAL STORY: FEW BAD VACCINE BILLS PASSED
What Happened in 2015
In 2015, there was a significant increase in state legislative action to add more vaccine mandates and attack the legal right to make voluntary vaccine decisions. Bills were introduced to:
- eliminate or severely restrict vaccine exemptions;
- add and expand vaccine mandates for both children and adults in the school or workplace settings;
- expand police powers related to vaccination during government declared public health emergencies;
- expand intrusive electronic vaccine tracking and medical records data sharing without consent to more easily enforce use of government recommended vaccines;
- publish and publicly post detailed information about vaccine exemptions and vaccination rates in much smaller geographical boundaries like individual schools.
In some states, legislation was passed allowing pharmacists to administer more vaccines.
Spurred on by reports of a measles outbreak in Disneyland, much of the media attention focused the loss of the personal belief and religious exemptions in California and the loss of the philosophical exemption in Vermont, and there was no acknowledgement of the strong pushback by citizens that thwarted multiple attacks on vaccine exemptions and informed consent rights in many other states.
During the 2015 legislative cycle, the following states derailed legislative attempts to outright eliminate the conscientious/philosophical vaccine exemptions: Maine, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington. Additionally, the following states came out on top of attacks on freedom of conscience and religion that would have eliminated or severely restricted the religious exemption: Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, and Vermont.
Bills to mandate vaccines for child care employees passed in California in 2015. However, bills to require vaccination of health care workers in Connecticut, Missouri and New Jersey and to require vaccination of school employees in Texas all failed.
Taking a closer look at the bills NVIC opposed that did pass, there was one Illinois bill in 2015 that weakened vaccine freedom of choice. Illinois SB 1410 added the requirement for parents to complete state approved vaccine education and secure a physician’s signature prior to filing a religious exemption for children to attend school.
Oregon passed SB 895A, which required schools to publicly post vaccine exemption rates. New vaccine mandates became law in Illinois for children attending daycare, as did new vaccine mandates for school children in Indiana, Louisiana and Montana.
It was clear that 2015 marked a turning point, both for pharmaceutical and medical trade lobbyists pushing for more oppressive vaccine laws and for citizens who support informed consent and the legal right to flexible medical, religious and conscientious belief vaccine exemptions.
What Happened in 2016
There was a sharp decline in 2016 in the total number of vaccine-related bills filed in state legislatures compared to the previous year: from 160 bills filed in 2015 down to 106 bills filed in 2016, but, again, this was still more bills than were filed in 2014.
It is very significant that in 2016, NO bills were passed by state legislatures that restricted or eliminated vaccine exemptions. The NVIC Advocacy team helped families and enlightened health care professionals defeat bills proposing to restrict or eliminate vaccine exemptions that were filed in Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Virginia. Bills in three states tried to completely remove the religious exemption, and bills in four states tried to eliminate the personal, philosophical or conscientious belief exemption.
In Virginia, where NVIC has been headquartered since 1982, a bill was proposed to gut the medical exemption by confining it to CDC vaccine contraindications only and to eliminate the religious vaccine exemption for all school aged children, including home schooled children. This assault on freedom of conscience and religion was met with strong opposition from hundreds of parents, grandparents, health care professionals and allied health freedom groups, who responded to NVIC’s call to action and attended Joint Commission on Health Care public hearings with their children and flooded the legislature with emails, phone calls and personal visits to legislators’ offices. NVIC prepared a 90-page referenced report defending the religious and medical vaccine exemptions and NVIC’s co-founder and president gave an oral presentation in the legislature defending freedom of religion and conscience, which was defined in the Virginia Constitution and Bill of Rights by authors of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. 31 32 The bill did not pass out of committee.
This nationwide rejection by state legislatures of lobbying attempts to take away more vaccine exemptions was a strong and definitive response by citizens and legislators to the attack on and loss of personal belief vaccine exemptions in two states in the 2015 legislative session.
In 2016, only eight vaccine bills passed out of the 71 bills that NVIC actively opposed on the NVIC Advocacy Portal.
Colorado SB 146 proposed to allow minor children to receive vaccines for sexually transmitted diseases, such as hepatitis B and HPV vaccines, without their parents’ knowledge or consent. Through well-organized grassroots action using the Advocacy Portal network and NVIC talking points, this offensive provision was stripped from the bill before final passage, pushing it into a “win” category for supporters of parental rights and informed consent.
Of the seven remaining bills that NVIC opposed but went on to pass in 2016, three added meningococcal vaccine requirements in Delaware, Iowa, and South Dakota.
The remaining four bills were not as threatening: HB 313 in Virginia expanded categories of medical workers who could give vaccines; S 1294 in Idaho lowered the age of children who can be vaccinated by pharmacists; SB 512 in New Hampshire expanded vaccine tracking of flu shots for health care workers, and SB 5143 in Washington state added mandated vaccine education for expectant parents before birth of a child.
In 2016, people around the country contacted NVIC and expressed concern that they did not want to see what happened in California happen in their state, too, and committed to actively educating their legislators. Many became users of the NVIC Advocacy Portal to learn more about becoming an effective vaccine choice advocate and how to network with legislators and community leaders. The excellent numbers coming out of the 2016 legislative session show just how committed and effective they were.
NVIC supported 18 bills in 2016 including:
- Massachusetts S 317 to add a personal belief vaccine exemption;
- Michigan HB 5126 to remove restrictions placed on vaccine exemptions by the Dept. of Health through rule making authority;
- New Hampshire HB 1463 to offer protection for employees against being forced to get an annual flu shot as a condition of employment; and
- Ohio HB 170 to prohibit an employer from taking punitive action against an employee who chooses not to get an annual flu shot.
While these positive bills did not pass, opportunities to educate legislators about vaccines and informed consent rights gained momentum, with some of these bills being carried through to 2017.
What Happened in 2017
2017 was a record breaking year on many fronts starting with NVIC’s Advocacy Portal team tracking an unprecedented 184 vaccine related bills across 42 states.
The great news coming out of 2017 was that there was very little progress made by forced vaccination lobbyists during this year’s legislative session. Out of the 116 bills that NVIC opposed, only 16 bills passed and, out of those 16, only seven had elements that were targeted for strong opposition.
Indiana took the hardest hit with a total of three unwanted vaccine bills passing: HB 1069 mandated meningococcal vaccinations for college students; HB 1540 allowed for quarantine and isolation of children with personal belief vaccine exemptions during a declared public health emergency involving disease outbreaks, and SB 51 added new vaccines that pharmacists can administer under standing orders and expanded medical records data sharing with the state’s electronic vaccine tracking registry. Arkansas also passed a bill (SB 301) to expand medical records data sharing with the state’s electronic vaccine tracking registry.
Tennessee passed the only other bill (SB393) affecting vaccine mandates, which required college boards and the state Department of Health to adopt rules concerning vaccine requirements that effectively delegated the authority to add new vaccine mandates for college students to the health department.
The only state to pass a bill (HB 308) restricting existing vaccine exemption rights was Utah, which added the requirement that parents either complete a vaccine education module to obtain a vaccine exemption form online or attend an in-office consultation at the local health department if an exemption form for a child to attend school is picked up at a health department office. The original statute only required the local health department to make the exemption form available to parents on request, but some parents reported that there were local health departments making that process too difficult for parents. Adding any additional codified restrictions to obtaining a vaccine exemption is a position that NVIC has consistently opposed.
In Washington State, a bill (HB 1641) was passed that significantly undermined parental informed consent rights by authorizing school nurses to give consent for vaccines to be administered to children whose families were homeless.
Of the remaining nine bills that NVIC opposed but were passed in 2017, none of them affected vaccine exemptions. In Alabama (HB 381), Georgia (HB 198), Nebraska (HB 1481) and Tennessee (HB 388 and SB 598), laws were passed to require vaccine promotion and marketing by schools or health care providers. Hawaii (SB 514), Kansas (HB 2030) and Montana (HB 177) authorized pharmacists to give vaccines or expand the types of vaccines and ages of children pharmacists could vaccinate.
On the positive side, New Hampshire scored a huge win with the passage of a bill (HB 362) that prohibits school vaccine requirements for diseases that are not transmitted from person to person in a public setting, basically gutting hepatitis B vaccine requirements and putting a road block in the way of any future rule to mandate HPV vaccine or other vaccines for sexually transmitted diseases.
Parental rights in Texas were affirmed when a bill (HB 7) was passed protecting families from having their children vaccinated by Child Protective Services (CPS) without parents’ informed consent. Out of the 184 bills that the NVIC Advocacy Portal team tracked in 2017, 23 were in Texas. Among the Texas bills NVIC opposed, there were three bills proposing to use tax dollars to promote vaccination; one bill removing parental consent by allowing minor children to consent to HPV vaccination; four bills mandating public vaccine exemption disclosure resulting in shaming of schools with high vaccine exemption rates; two bills removing the right to opt-in informed consent for personal medical information to be entered into the vaccine tracking system; two bills to restrict vaccine exemptions, and one bill to eliminate conscientious and religious exemptions. All of these bills trampling on parental and informed consent rights FAILED, thanks to the work of NVIC’s volunteer state directors, supporters, and allied groups in Texas.
2017 BILL ANALYSIS BY CATEGORY
Because of the record number of vaccine bills filed in 2017, it is useful to look at trends across the states. The four main areas that NVIC focuses on when tracking proposed bills are: (1) vaccine exemptions and informed consent rights; (2) new vaccine mandates; (3) electronic vaccine tracking and reporting registries and (4) vaccines in general. The breakout and analysis of bills in these different categories is interesting and can serve as a guide to those who want to become active in educating their legislators and community about protecting vaccine informed consent rights in 2018.
Exemptions and Informed Consent (81 related bills)
The majority of vaccine bills filed in state legislatures in 2017 affected vaccine exemptions and informed consent rights: 81 related bills. NVIC opposed 42 of these bills and supported 39 bills. Some of the position statements NVIC posted on the Advocacy Portal were listed as bills to “WATCH” because our analysis indicated they were unlikely to move forward; however, NVIC stated opposition to all of the bills in the “watch” category that negatively affected vaccine exemptions and informed consent rights.
2017 was a big year for vaccine choice advocates: ALL lobbying attempts to eliminate vaccine exemptions failed in every state where bills were proposed to do that. Bills were filed in Arkansas (HB1043), Iowa (H 261), New York (A 1810), Pennsylvania (SB 217), and Rhode Island (H 5681) to eliminate vaccine exemptions.
Texas (HB120) attempted to remove the words “conscientious” and “religious” from vaccine exemption language in state law and refer to exemptions only in medical terms (i.e., “non-medical”). The Arkansas bill was withdrawn by the sponsor and the rest of the bills failed to move forward. This is very good news.
On the other side, there were 17 bills filed in Hawaii, Iowa, Mississippi (4), New Jersey, New York (3), Rhode Island (3), Tennessee and West Virginia (3) that NVIC supported because they proposed to expand vaccine exemptions. Unfortunately, none of those bills passed but their introduction provided an excellent opportunity for citizens to educate legislators about vaccine science, policy and law and informed consent rights.
Of the 15 bills filed in Connecticut (2), Iowa, Minnesota (2), New Jersey, New York, Ohio (3), Oklahoma, Texas (2) and Utah (2) that attempted to restrict vaccine exemptions, only one bill in Utah passed (HB 308). Utah parents now must obtain a vaccine exemption form after completing an online educational module or having in an “in-person consultation” with a health official or other designated person at a local health department office, where parents can be charged up to $25 to do that.
In Mississippi and Texas, there were proposed bills to expand the types of medical workers who could sign a medical vaccine exemption, but they did not pass.
Many more bills in 2017 were filed that tried to mandate the public disclosure of vaccine exemption rates for individual schools. This type of law serves to publicly shame schools with higher student vaccine exemption rates and creates a climate of fear and stigmatization of children attending school with vaccine exemptions. There were bills attempting to do this filed in Arizona, Connecticut, Nevada, New York, Oklahoma, Texas (4) and Virginia. NVIC opposed every one of these bills and we are happy to say NONE of them passed.
This was the second session in a row that a legislator in Texas was unsuccessful in passing this type of legislation and users of the NVIC Advocacy Portal fought hard to stop it from passing. There was a lot of media attention generated by pro-forced vaccination groups in advance of the 2017 legislative session in Texas to try to sway public opinion and persuade the legislature to pass coercive vaccine bills, but those efforts failed.
There were six bills filed in the states of Minnesota (4), New York and Texas that attempted to remove vaccine informed consent rights from parents and delegate them to the minor children themselves. Fortunately, NONE of these bills passed.
However, Washington State did pass a bill (HB1641) that allows school nurses to give consent to vaccinating children whose families are homeless. Being “homeless” does not mean children don’t have parents who care for them and are legally responsible for their welfare. School nurses should not be given the power to vaccinate children for whom they are not legal guardians. NVIC is urging families in Washington State to contact legislators to repeal this law, which sets a bad precedent and threatens parental informed consent rights.
A new category of legislation that emerged in 2017: six bills were filed in Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, Oregon and Washington that highlighted the urgent need to reign in overzealous government agencies where officials are appropriating authority they do not have by ignoring current statutes and adding erroneous restrictions and forms to vaccine exemptions. Although none of the six bills passed that would have expressly limited state agency actions where government officials are overstepping their authority, the efforts still yielded wins in two states: Colorado and Oregon.
In Colorado, a bill (SB 250) proposed to clarify that parents can submit a signed letter requesting a religious or philosophical exemption to vaccination for children to attend school and parents are not required to fill out a state health department form. This bill was filed because the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) and schools were telling parents they must use the CDPHE forms, even though Colorado State Law 25-4-903(2)(b) has been in force since 1978 allowing parents or legal guardians to submit to schools a signed statement requesting a vaccine exemption on behalf of a minor child. While the bill did not pass, the parent’s right to submit a vaccine exemption statement to the school was publicly affirmed in a joint letter signed by the departments of health and education. 33
Oregon SB 687 proposed to clarify that the definition of parental child abuse does not include delaying or declining vaccination for a child. While the bill did not pass, the Oregon Department of Human Services issued a memo, which states that not vaccinating a child by itself does not constitute medical neglect. It is likely there will be more clarification bills filed in the future as more families and legislators grow frustrated with state agencies that don’t follow the law. 34
Texas made strides in 2017 in creating legislation to protect parents, whose children have not received all federally recommended and state mandated vaccines, from overreach by Child Protective Services (CPS) and the courts. Already armed with protective language passed in a 2003 bill, which amended the Government Code with “Prohibition on Punitive Action for Failure to Immunize,” the passage of Texas HB 7 in 2017 took this protection to an even higher level. HB 7 provided for a sweeping revamping of the CPS system and it was amended to include protective language for parents filing a conscientious/religious vaccine exemption for their children. Sections 10 and 11 of the bill prohibit a court from ordering the termination of parental rights, and sections 17 and 18 prohibit the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) from taking possession of a child based on a parent "declining immunization for a child for reasons of conscience including a religious belief."
Threatening language also was removed from Texas HB 1549 that targeted innocent parents, who CPS officials believe are “at risk” of committing child abuse or neglect at some point in the future. The original bill contained no qualification that families would have to already be under investigation for child abuse or neglect to be labeled “at risk” of becoming child abusers. Rather, the bill would have allowed CPS officials to visit the home of any family they believed displayed “risk factors” and CPS could schedule monthly visits to that family’s home. Under the bill’s original language, a “risk factor” could be anything that CPS believed would make a child susceptible to abuse or neglect. NVIC sent an action alert to oppose the bill. We are grateful to all the organizations that worked together in Texas to remove offensive language from the bill that could have led to labeling parents who do not vaccinate their children as potential child abusers.
Seventeen bills in Hawaii, Iowa, Mississippi (4), New Jersey, New York (3), Rhode Island (3), Tennessee, and West Virginia (3) were filed to expand vaccine exemptions and bills filed in Minnesota, Oklahoma (4), Oregon (3), Texas (2) and Washington State proposed to expand vaccine informed consent rights. Two bills in Mississippi and Texas were filed to expand which type of medical workers can sign medical exemptions, plus Texas had a bill to prohibit doctors from refusing to provide medical care to patients for declining vaccinations. While none of these proactive bills passed, they advanced education efforts in the legislature about vaccine exemption and informed consent issues affecting families, which ultimately helped stop some of the bad vaccine-related bills from passing.
Vaccine Mandates (35 bills)
Twenty-five bills were filed across 11 states to add new vaccine mandates, including in Connecticut (2), Illinois, Indiana (3), Kansas, Kentucky, Maine (2), Missouri, New Jersey (5), New York (5), Tennessee (2), and Virginia (2). The majority of these bills attempted to require influenza, meningococcal, or HPV vaccines for either health care workers or children attending school. NVIC opposed all of these bills and the only two that passed were Indiana HB 1069, which mandated meningococcal vaccinations for college students, and Tennessee SB 393, which required college boards and the Department of Health to adopt vaccine requirement rules.
No elementary or secondary school mandates were passed by any state legislature. However, there has been an increasing trend for legislatures to allow public health officials in state health departments to add school vaccine mandates by using the administrative rule making process that by-passes the legislative process, which effectively reduces active public participation and scrutiny of these policies.
NVIC tracked four bills that proposed to protect employees from vaccine mandates as a condition of employment: one in Mississippi, one in Ohio and two in Oregon. While the bills in Mississippi and Oregon died, in Ohio a bill (HB 193), which provides protections for employees who refuse an annual flu shot, is still moving. The bill passed out of the Economic Development, Commerce and Labor Committee and, as long as it is alive, Ohio residents should continue to monitor and urge legislators to support this bill.
There were five proactive bills filed in Mississippi, New Hampshire (2), New Jersey and Rhode Island to restrict vaccine mandates. Four of the five bills restricted hepatitis B vaccine mandates. The only one of these bills to pass was in New Hampshire (HB 362), where there is now a prohibition on school vaccine mandates for diseases that are not transferred from person to person in a public setting. This bill went into effect on Aug. 15, 2017. That victory came after dedicated education efforts in the legislature by NVIC’s volunteer New Hampshire state advocacy director and Advocacy Portal users in the state.
Vaccine Tracking and Reporting (28 bills)
The largest group of bills under the category of vaccine tracking and reporting were 17 bills in 12 states that proposed to expand electronic vaccine tracking systems: Arkansas, California, Connecticut (3), Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York (2), Ohio, and Utah. The only two bills that passed were Arkansas SB 301 and Indiana SB 51.
The next largest category was vaccine tracking bills that were filed in Montana, Oregon, Texas (2) and Utah to remove opt-in informed consent to vaccine records tracking so the vaccination status of individuals can be tracked without their knowledge or consent by state health officials. Fortunately, none of these bills passed.
Maryland HB 1481 proposed to not only require all primary health care providers to push federally recommended vaccines for adolescents, such as hepatitis B and HPV vaccines, it would have required the documentation of parental refusal of vaccinations in the child’s permanent medical record. Fortunately, this bill stalled and failed to move out of committee.
A good bill in Massachusetts (H 1179) proposed to give individuals a way to avoid automatic inclusion in the state’s electronic vaccine tracking system without consent, but the bill did not pass. A bill in Vermont (H 247), which requires the state health department file vaccine adverse reaction reports to the General Assembly, is still active for the upcoming 2018 session. If you live in Vermont, you can encourage your legislators to support H 247.
Vaccines (47 bills)
Vaccine advertising, promotion and marketing should not be funded by taxpayers and, yet, there were bills filed in 10 states, including Alabama, Florida (3), Georgia, Illinois (2), Louisiana (2), Maryland, Nebraska, Oregon, Tennessee (2) and Texas (3) to require the promotion of vaccine use by schools, medical facilities and places of employment.
Schools should not be legally compelled to promote vaccinations. Yet, bills in Alabama (HB 381), Georgia (HB 198) and Tennessee (HB 388 and SB 598) all passed and require schools to provide information on influenza and flu shots to children and their parents. A bill in Nebraska (LB 267), which also passed, requires nursing facilities to offer employees and residents influenza vaccines.
There were bills filed in 11 states proposing to authorize pharmacists to administer more vaccines, including in California, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland (2), Maine (2), Montana, New York (3), South Dakota and Texas. Four of these bills passed and some of the bills broaden the ages of individuals who can be given vaccines, while others broaden the types of vaccines that can be given. Hawaii (SB 514) passed a bill allowing pharmacists to administer HPV and other vaccines to children that became effective July 3, 2017. Indiana (SB 51) added new vaccines that pharmacists can administer under standing orders, effective July 1, 2017. Kansas (HB 2030) now allows pharmacists to administer a vaccine to children as young as 12 years old and this went into effect on July 1, 2017. Finally, Montana passed HB 177, which allows pharmacists to give pneumococcal vaccines to everyone and this law went into effect on March 1, 2017.
California passed a bill (AB 443) that allows optometrists to give vaccines, effective Oct. 7, 2017.
There were nine bills in six states proposing to expand vaccine and public health programs, including in Florida (3), Georgia, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and Washington (2), and two of these bills passed. While two bills in Florida to promote vaccination of pregnant women died, there is a new bill (HB 41) that has already been pre-filed for the 2018 legislative session. This bill makes influenza and tetanus vaccines (most tetanus containing shots also contain diphtheria and pertussis vaccines) part of pregnancy wellness programs. NVIC will continue to oppose this bill and encourage Florida residents to contact their legislators and share with them the results of a new study signaling an association between influenza vaccine and miscarriage. 35
There were also three bills, all filed in Missouri, which proposed to limit certain ingredients in vaccines, but none of them passed.
GOVERNMENT AGENCIES ABUSING THE RULE MAKING PROCESS TO GET AROUND LEGISLATORS
As citizens in many states have become more effective informed consent advocates and are successfully blocking coercive vaccine legislation, officials in government agencies are increasingly attempting to use and stretch the administrative rule making process, which avoids legislation, to try to get away with putting restrictions on or adding more requirements to the vaccine exemption process. Citizens have little recourse when administrative rules are adopted by government agencies that increase restrictions or add extra requirements not set forth in law because, unlike elected legislators, voters cannot hold unelected government employees accountable at the polls.
In the 2015-2017 time frame, NVIC issued action alerts to oppose proposed administrative rules in Illinois, Pennsylvania and Vermont that affect vaccine exemptions and, in New Hampshire, we urged opposition to a vaccine tracking system proposed rule. A local health department in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania tried to mandate HPV vaccines for school children, which is yet another example of government overreach that was fortunately stopped. These administrative rules issued by government officials all had one thing in common: they went beyond the authority given to government employees in the state laws they were supposed to responsibly implement.
For example, the Illinois Dept. of Public Health adopted administrative rules that went into effect on Feb. 27, 2017 related to the passage of SB 1410 by the legislature in 2015. SB 1410 required the signature of a medical professional that verified the parent was given vaccine education, as well as required new religious vaccine exemption forms to be filled out by parents of children entering Kindergarten, sixth and ninth grades. The final rule that was adopted by the health department went beyond the scope of what was authorized in the bill, requiring all children in daycare, nursery schools, Pre-K, special education, and entering other grades to file new religious exemption forms. The health department rule also failed to implement a section of the bill clarifying that state designated medical workers giving vaccines may write a medical exemption for a child without restrictions.
In 2017, NVIC issued an alert in Kentucky opposing a proposed rule by The Cabinet for Health and Family Services to restrict vaccine exemptions by requiring the use of a state issued form that would require additional parent education and a notary signature.
An increasing number of public health officials working in state health departments are growing bolder by taking action outside the scope of the laws for which they write rules. It is very important to hold public health officials accountable with legislators who control their funding, and call them out for going beyond their authority when it comes to promoting and enforcing vaccination.
Parents should be very cautious about signing government forms that contain statements about diseases and vaccines that they do not agree with, especially if coercion is involved, which is called “compelled speech” and is unconstitutional. Make sure that the forms you sign are legally required and do not include additional information requests or attestations that are not required in state or federal law.
Informed consent advocates in every state, who want to expand or protect vaccine exemptions, should actively monitor proposed rule making notices published in their state by health agencies and respond with written or oral public comment, as allowed, as well as contact legislators and express concerns. Taking action will help stop government officials from abusing rule making authority for the purpose of coercing individuals into using all federally recommended and state mandated vaccines rather than respecting informed consent rights. Links are posted to state proposed rulemaking on each state vaccine law page at NVIC.org to assist the public in providing oversight on and holding government agencies accountable for legally administrating the rule making process.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
NVIC expects many more vaccine-related bills to be filed in the states in 2018, so please become a registered user of the NVIC Advocacy Portal and check in often to learn about ways to educate legislators when vaccine bills moving in your state, and encourage all of your friends and family to do the same. Clearly your efforts are making a much more significant difference than the media and those pushing “no exceptions” forced vaccination policies and laws are willing to admit, and your participation is vital to protecting informed consent and vaccine choices in America.
Also, if you see inaccurate information in the media, take the time to respond by a making a comment online. You can also email the journalist or media outlet and provide accurate, well referenced vaccine information, which you can find on the “Ask 8 Vaccine Information Kiosk” on NVIC.org. NVIC’s updated 2017 illustrated and fully referenced Guide to Reforming Vaccine Policy and Law is a good vaccine education tool for legislators and friends and family, too.
NOTE: Every bill discussed in this report is linked on the NVIC Advocacy Portal.
1 Schoenberg N. New measures add pressure to anti-vaccine parents in Illinois and across U.S. Chicago Tribune July 30, 2017.
2 Bay Area News Group. State Senator Richard Pan praised by colleagues over vaccine bill. Los Angeles Daily News July 4, 2015.
3 Senapathy K. A West Virginian Is Trying To Stop A Senate Bill From Destroying State Vaccination Rates. Forbes Feb. 23, 2017.
4 Editorial Board. Pennsylvania needs a shot of common sense on vaccination exemptions. Lancaster News Press Feb. 24, 2017.
5 Blumberg A. Here’s Where Major Religions Actually Stand on Vaccines. Huffington Post Mar. 31, 2017.
6 Wyckoff AS. Eliminate nonmedical immunization exemptions for school entry, says AAP. AAP News Aug. 29, 2016.
7 Frellick M. Experts Debate Non-medical Vaccine Exemptions for School Entry. Medscape Sept. 21, 2017.
8 Opel DH, Schwartz JL, Omer SB et al. Achieving Optimal Childhood Vaccine Policy. JAMA Pediatr 2017; 171(9): 893-896. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/article-abstract/2633495
9 CDC. Recommended Immunization Schedules for Persons Aged 0 Through 18 Years, United States, 2017.
10 National Vaccine Information Center. NVIC Cites “Betrayal” of Consumers by US Supreme Court Giving Total Liability Shield to Big Pharma. Business Wire Feb. 23, 2011.
11 National Vaccine Information Center. NVIC Renews Call for End to Product Liability Shield for Vaccine Manufacturers During 2016 Vaccine Awareness Week. Business Wire Nov. 14, 2016.
12 Every Child by Two. 2016 Annual Report and 2017 Sources of Funding. 2017.
13 Every Child by Two. Advocate. 2017.
14 Every Child by Two. Catherine Flores Martin. 2017.
15 California Immunization Coalition. Director’s Update. 2016.
16 Immunization Action Coalition (IAC). California Immunization Coalition. Immunization Coalition Network 2017.
17 Immunization Action Coalition. IAC Funding. Apr. 19, 2017.
18 Immunization Action Coalition. Advisory Board. Aug. 17, 2017. http://www.immunize.org/aboutus/advisoryboard.asp
19 Ross CA. Stanley Plotkin. The Embryo Project Encyclopedia. Apr. 13, 2017.
20 Pharmaceutical Commerce. Commemorating a vaccine success in rotavirus. Oct. 18, 2016.
21 Attkisson S. How Independent Are Vaccine Defenders? CBS July 25, 2008.
22 Task Force for Global Health. Our Work and Financials.
23 Hardie A. Unsung Saviors: Decatur’s Task Force for Global Health Is Helping Eliminate Horrific Diseases. Atlanta Magazine January 2017.
24 Voices for Vaccines. Scientific Advisory Board.
25 The Immunization Partnership (TIP). Why Should You Give to TIP? October 2017. http://www.immunizeusa.org/donate/
26 The Immunization Partnership (TIP). TIP Board of Directors.
27 Hotez P. Curriculum Vitae & Biography February 2015.
28 Hotez PJ. Will An American Led Anti-Vaccine Movement Subvert Global Health? Scientific American Mar. 3, 2017.
29 Lakshmanan R. Rising vaccine resistance and public health in Texas. Trib Talk June 22, 2017.
30 Lakashmanan R. TIP OpEd: The Texas Legislature Should Have Protected State Health. The Immunization Partnership June 29, 2017. http://www.immunizeusa.org/blog/2017/june/29/texas-legislature-oped/
31 Fisher BL, Pebsworth V. Analysis of Proposed Legislative Policy Options Re: JCHC Staff Report on School Vaccination in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
32 Fisher BL. Defending Freedom of Religion and Conscience. Oral testimony opposing elimination of religious vaccine exemption in Healthy Living Health Services Subcommittee, Joint Commission on Health Care Meeting. Virginia General Assembly Aug. 3, 2016.
33 Colorado Dept. of Public Health & Environment and Dept. of Education. Re: Regarding School Responsibility and Immunization Exemptions. Apr. 12, 2017.
34 Oregon Dept. of Human Services. Re: Screening and Child Protective Services Assessments: Parent’s Decisions Regarding Vaccinations. Office of Child Welfare Programs Apr. 26, 2017.
35 Soucheray S. Study signals association between flu vaccine, miscarriage. CIDRAP Sept. 13, 2017.
By Barbara Loe Fisher
To activate and view hyperlinked references, please click once and then click any superscripted number below to access a hyperlinked reference, or scroll down to the bottom of the article to view all hyperlinked references.
Since I was asked to make a presentation about vaccine exemptions in 1997 at the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C., I have publicly defended the informed consent principle, which was defined as a human right at the Doctors Trial at Nuremberg in 1947. 1 Informed consent means you have the right to be fully informed about the benefits and risks of a medical intervention and the freedom to make a voluntary decision about whether or not to accept those risks without being coerced or punished for the decision you make. Informed consent applies not just to risks taken by participants in scientific experiments, but also to risks taken by patients under the care of physicians. 2 3 4 5
Informed Consent Principle Applies to All Medical Risk-Taking
Today, when a person publicly advocates for informed consent protections in vaccine laws, an “anti-vaccine” label is usually immediately applied to shut down any further conversation. 6 7 Perhaps because a conversation about ethics opens up a wider conversation about freedom.
The right and responsibility for making a decision about risk taking rightly belongs to the person taking the risk. When you become informed and think rationally about a risk that you or your minor child may take - and then follow your conscience - you own that decision. And when you own it, you can defend it. And once you can defend it, you will be ready to do whatever it takes to fight for your freedom to make it, no matter who tries to prevent you from doing that.
Never Do Anything Against Conscience
Albert Einstein, who risked arrest in Germany in the 1930’s when he spoke out against censorship and persecution of minorities, said, “Never do anything against conscience even if the State demands it.” 8
There is no liberty more fundamentally a natural, inalienable right than the freedom to think independently and follow our conscience when choosing what we are willing to risk our life or our child’s life for.
Because the journey we take on this earth is defined by the choices we make. If we are not free to make choices, the journey is not our own. The choices we make that involve risk of harm to our physical body, which houses our mind and spirit, those are among the most profound choices we make in this life.
Vaccine Risks Not Being Borne Equally By Everyone in Society
So, vaccination must remain a choice because it is a medical intervention performed on the body of a healthy person that carries a risk of injury or death. 9 10 And while we are all born equal, with equal rights under the law, we are not born all the same. Each one of us is born with different genes and a unique microbiome influenced by epigenetics that affects how we respond to the environments we live in. 11 12
We do not all respond the same way to pharmaceutical products like vaccines, so vaccine risks are not being borne equally by everyone in society.
Why should the lives of those vulnerable to vaccine complications be valued any less than those vulnerable to complications of infections? And why should people not be free to choose to stay healthy in ways that pose far fewer risks?
Vaccines Carry Risks and Do Not Guarantee Protection
The act of vaccination involves the deliberate introduction of killed live attenuated or genetically engineered microbes into the body of a healthy person, along with varying amounts of chemicals, metals, human and animal RNA and DNA and other ingredients 13 that atypically manipulate the immune system to mount an inflammatory response that stimulates artificial immunity. 14
But there is no guarantee that vaccination will not compromise biological integrity or cause the death of a healthy or vaccine vulnerable person either immediately or in the future. There is also no guarantee that vaccination will protect a person from getting an infection with or without symptoms and transmitting it to others. 15
Vaccine Science Gaps, Doctors Cannot Predict Who Will React
Reports published by physician committees at the Institute of Medicine confirm that vaccines, like infections, can injure and kill people but that:
- very little is known about how vaccines or microbes act at the cellular and molecular level in the human body; 16 17 18 and
- the Institute of Medicine confirms that an unknown number of us have certain genetic, biological and environmental susceptibilities that make us more vulnerable to being harmed by vaccines, but doctors cannot accurately predict who we are; 19 20 and
- that clinical trials of experimental vaccines are too small to detect serious reactions before they are licensed; 21 22 and
- that the U.S. recommended child vaccine schedule through age six has not been adequately studied to rule out an association with allergies, autoimmunity, learning and behavior disorders, seizures, autism and other brain and immune dysfunction. 23
Yet, with these large gaps in scientific knowledge, government health officials direct physicians to vaccinate 99.99 percent of children regardless of known or unknown risks. 2425
Government Licensed Vaccines “Unavoidably Unsafe”
Therefore, vaccination is a medical procedure that can be termed experimental each time it is performed on a person. By extension, “no exceptions” mandatory vaccination laws create a de facto uncontrolled, population based scientific experiment that enrolls every child at birth and never ends, sacrificing an unknown number of vaccine vulnerable children.
Further, the US Congress and Supreme Court have declared federally licensed vaccines to be “unavoidably unsafe,” removing civil liability from doctors who give vaccines and drug companies that sell vaccines in what has become a very lucrative multi-billion dollar business in the U.S. 26 27 At the same time, the federal vaccine injury compensation program created by Congress in 1986 that was supposed to be a no-fault alternative to a lawsuit – not instead of a lawsuit – has been gutted by federal agencies so that, today, almost no child receives compensation when they are hurt by vaccines. 28
Now, a global vaccine injury compensation program is being created to shield multinational corporations from liability for injuries caused by the hundreds of new genetically engineered vaccines governments will mandate in the future. 29 30 31 32 33 34
All this, while medical trade groups affiliated with industry and government join forces to lobby for removal of flexible medical, conscientious and religious belief exemptions from state health laws, 35 as was done in California in 2015, 36 so that those who refuse government endorsed vaccines for themselves or their minor children can be denied an education, employment, health care and other civil rights.
Utilitarianism Should Not Be Foundation of Public Health Law
In 1996, when I was in the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. attending a conference on the role of physicians and scientists implementing public health policy during the Third Reich, I looked up and saw an inscription that took my breath away. It said, “the first to perish were the children…from these a new dawn might have risen.”
This commentary, which I originally presented in March 2017 at the inaugural meeting of Physicians for Informed Consent in California, 37 is dedicated to mothers and fathers, whose children died or became brain injured when the risks of vaccination turned out to be 100 percent.
I am arguing that the consequentialist theory of utilitarianism 38 39 40 is a pseudo-ethic that must be rejected as the moral foundation of public health policy and law so it can be replaced with a compassionate ethic grounded in respect for the human right to autonomy and informed consent to medical risk taking, including vaccine risk taking.
Pediatrician Censored for Reporting Infant Deaths After DPT Shots
I remember the day in the spring of 1982, when I was a young mother with a four year-old son struggling with the effects of a serious DPT vaccine reaction. I had just seen the NBC television documentary DPT: Vaccine Roulette 41 and was networking with parents of DPT vaccine injured children in the Washington, D.C. area when I decided to attend a press conference at the American Academy of Neurology to hear a young pediatric neurologist talk about his study in which two thirds of the babies, whose deaths were classified sudden infant death syndrome, had died within three weeks of a DPT shot.
This pediatrician was concerned that DPT vaccine may be a major unrecognized cause of early childhood death, including SIDS, and he suggested that more research be done. As soon as he finished, his physician colleagues launched a vicious attack on his professional expertise and personal integrity that left him physically trembling in a cold sweat. I had never seen anything like it.
During the break, I was approached by a PhD scientist who, at the time, worked for the National Academy of Sciences. This scientist asked me why I was there and I told him I wanted to know more about DPT vaccine because, when I was taking my baby to be vaccinated, I had no idea that vaccines – which were supposed to keep children healthy - could actually kill them.
He got this quizzical look on his face and said something to the effect that it only happens once in a million kids. And instinctively I said, but if a vaccine kills even one, how can all children be legally required to get it? He looked surprised, uncomfortable, and walked away mumbling something about vaccine benefits far outweigh the risks, and sometimes we have to make sacrifices for the greater good.
And I thought to myself, but the benefits didn’t outweigh the risks for my child or for the babies who died after DPT shots in the study that young doctor tried to talk about before he was figuratively lynched for suggesting that DPT vaccine benefits might not outweigh the risks.
And why was my child’s health sacrificed without my knowledge or permission, and what is “the good” that is made greater by child sacrifice, and who defines it as “good”?
Playing DPT Vaccine Roulette with My Son’s Life
When I became a Mom in 1978, my son, Chris, was the light of my life. Happy, healthy and precocious, he was saying words at seven months,
speaking in full sentences by age two and identifying words in the books we read together every day. One doctor told me he was cognitively gifted.
But everything changed in 1980 when, within hours of his fourth DTP shot, I witnessed the eyes of my two and a half year old son roll back in his head and his head fall to his shoulder as if he had fallen asleep sitting up. I carried him, pale and limp, to his bed, where he did not move for hours. I thought to myself, oh, he is tired and just taking a really long nap, or maybe he is coming down with a cold.
And when I finally was able to wake him but he couldn’t sit up or walk or speak coherently, when he had terrible diarrhea and only stayed conscious for a few minutes before falling into 12 more hours of deep sleep, I did not understand that I had witnessed a classic post-DPT vaccine convulsion and “hypotonic/hyporesponsive reaction and brain inflammation. 42 43 44 45 Chris was not just taking a really long nap, he was unconscious in his bed and could have died that day.
I did not know because my pediatrician had told me nothing about how to recognize a vaccine reaction, including symptoms of encephalitis - brain inflammation that has been a well-documented complication of vaccination for two centuries. 46 47 48 49 I did not know that the unusual local reaction after his third DPT shot was a warning sign or that our family history of severe allergies and autoimmune disorders could increase vaccine risks. 50 51 52 53 54 55 56
Even though I came from a family of doctors and nurses, had a college degree and had worked at a teaching hospital – like most parents back then I believed that vaccines were 100 percent safe and effective.
And in the following days and weeks, when Chris could no longer concentrate or do what we could do before, when his personality changed and he was constantly sick with ear and respiratory infections, diarrhea, new food allergies and severe weight loss, my family and I could not understand why Chris had regressed physically, mentally and emotionally and become a totally different child. His doctors told us there was no explanation and said I should take him home and love him.
Eighteen months later, when I, and millions of other parents in America, watched the Emmy award winning “DPT Vaccine Roulette,” 57 I called the TV station and asked if I could have copies of the medical literature used to anchor the documentary.
And it was in my living room as I read case history descriptions of DPT vaccine injury and death in the pages of Pediatrics 58 59 60 and the British Medical Journal 61 62 63 and New England Journal of Medicine 64 that exactly matched the symptoms of brain inflammation I witnessed my son suffer that day, it was then I knew that physicians had been talking in medical journals for more than 50 years about the fact that pertussis vaccine could brain damage children, but no one had informed the mothers dutifully bringing their children for DPT shots legally required to go to school.
As I tried to help my son cope with multiple learning disabilities that included dyslexia, fine and gross motor skill delay, auditory processing and attention deficit, and short term memory delays so severe they confined him to a special ed classroom throughout his public school education, and as I interviewed hundreds of mothers for the book DPT: A Shot in the Dark, I came to know many families whose children had died or were much more severely vaccine injured than my child. 65 66
Chris has worked hard to compensate for his learning disabilities and he is a productive member of society today; but many vaccine injured children, tragically, are not. 67
My son is among the walked wounded in what has become an unprecedented and still unexplained chronic disease and disability epidemic now plaguing millions of children and young adults in America. 68 It is an epidemic of learning disabilities, ADHD, asthma, seizures, autism, diabetes, depression, and other types of brain and immune dysfunction marked by chronic inflammation in the body that has perfectly coincided with the tripling of the numbers of vaccines given to children – from 23 doses of seven vaccines starting at two months through age six in the early 1980s - to the current 69 doses of 16 vaccines starting on the day of birth with 50 doses given before age six. 69 70
In 1982, it was my curiosity about the truth of the matter that pushed me to research the science, policy, law, ethics, history and politics of vaccination and spend two decades participating in public engagement projects at the Institute of Medicine and Department of Health and Human Services, where I served as a consumer member on vaccine advisory committees at the FDA and CDC, 71 a journey that has now spanned half my life.
So, I offer you my perspective from that vantage point.
Philosophy: Love of Wisdom
Here we are in the 21st century, where the electronic communications revolution has created a virtual global public square on the World Wide Web,
where more than three billion people are talking to - and sometimes yelling at - each other about ideas, values and beliefs, just like they did in the public squares of ancient Athens and Rome, and in universities, newspapers, and on radio and television since then.
Throughout recorded history, people have disagreed with each other about how to answer big questions, like:
- Where do we come from?
- Are we only physical matter or do we have an immortal soul, a consciousness that survives physical death?
- What is truth and how can we know it?
- What is ethical behavior and how can we define it?
Most of the formal debates about these questions have been described in the history of philosophy, 72 which the ancient Greeks defined as “love of wisdom,” that included study of knowledge; reasoning; nature of being or metaphysics; aesthetics; and ethics.
The philosophy of science emerged as a separate discipline in the 18th and 19h centuries after mathematicians and astronomers mounted a successful challenge to the authority of organized religion.
Science Now Dominates, Affect Cultural Values & Laws
Since then, science has invaded and dominated every other branch of philosophy. As we are reminded every day in so many ways, science and math rule, and scientific evidence determines what is true and what is not. In fact, those who practice and submit to the authority of science insist that not only must science be used to define all truth, but leaders in science and medicine are authorities who should define “the good,” that is, define moral behavior and what kind of cultural values we should have, and what kind of beliefs we should be allowed to hold and teach our children, and what kind of laws should be passed in order to limit the ability of individuals to make “unscientific” choices that presumably endanger the public health and welfare. 73
That’s a whole lot of pressure for many physicians, who do not want to be put on a pedestal and required to exercise that kind of authority over the lives of fellow human beings because - first and foremost - it interferes with developing a relationship with patients based on mutual respect, trust and shared decision making.
But, the stark reality is that the scientification of every branch of philosophy has elevated prominent scientists and physicians promoting “consensus science” into positions of authority, whose judgment should never be questioned. Long held cultural values, such as respect for freedom of thought, speech, conscience and religious belief are being called into question, which, in turn, affects court decisions and the making of laws.
No where is this more visible than in public health law using the materialist philosophy of utilitarianism to legally require all Americans to use an increasing number of vaccines without their voluntary informed consent.
So how did we get here? How did science come to dominate how we define what is true and good for the individual and society in the 21st century?
Old Arguments About What Is True and Good
Although conversations about the meaning of life and what is good started before written history and is embedded in tenets of five surviving major religions - Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity - it was the classical Greek philosophers who began recording the debate.
Socrates, Plato and Aristotle believed that we are physical matter animated by a vital spirit, and we can use innate knowledge and reason to perceive what is good.
Epicurus disagreed and said humans are only physical matter and have no spirit or innate knowledge and that seeking pleasure and avoiding pain is the highest good and guide to moral behavior.
For 1500 years following the birth of Christ, the highest good was defined as knowing and loving God in western cultures adopting Judeo-Christian moral values - until the Scientific Revolution when 15th and 16th century scientists Copernicus, Galileo, Newton and Francis Bacon developed methods for determining what is true that put the existence of God on trial, along with the definition of what is good.
Although between the 16th and 19th centuries, Descartes, Locke, Kant, Hegel and other philosophers argued that humans are both physical matter and spirit and can use reason to understand scientific truth, as well as to perceive the natural law that serves as a guide to what is good, the materialist philosophers Hobbes, Hume, Bentham, Comte, Marx and Nietzsche argued that science proves there is no God or human spirit because we are only physical matter, and there are no absolute moral values but, rather, science can be used to define what is true and good.
This included the idea that a mathematical equation can be used to judge whether or not an individual action, government policy or law is moral.
The authors of the U.S. Declaration of Independence agreed with the philosophers who argued that humans have a physical body animated by a soul or spirit, and that we can use reason given to us by God to perceive the natural law, which includes natural rights, that belong to all individuals and limit the authority of government.
The Bill of Rights in the US Constitution contains strong language protecting exercise of natural rights. 74 These have been defined internationally as human rights, including freedom of thought, speech, conscience and religious belief. 75 76
Utilitarianism: Mathematics, Vaccination & Public Health Rising
But today, it is not respect for natural rights that guides public health policy in the U.S., it is the philosophy of utilitarianism, created by Jeremy Bentham, a 19th century British attorney and social reformer. 77 78 Bentham mocked the U.S. Constitution for mentioning God and affirming natural rights protected in the First Amendment.
Like Comte, Marx and Nietzsche who followed him, Bentham did not believe that man has a soul or innate intelligence, so he returned to the hedonistic Epicurean philosophy of maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain to define what is good.
Bentham’s utilitarianism uses a mathematical equation that judges the rightness or wrongness of an action by its consequences. Bentham said that an action is only moral or ethical if it results in the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. With its emphasis on numbers of people, Bentham created utilitarianism primarily as a guide to state legislative policy, and vaccine cost-benefit analyses are rooted in utilitarianism.
Bentham was a contemporary of British physician Edward Jenner, who took pus from a cowpox lesion and scratched it onto the arm of a young boy in an effort to prevent smallpox. Jenner’s experiment, repeated over and over again in lots of people, created a live human-cow hybrid virus called vaccinia. 79
The new chemical industry took that vaccinia virus, added some chemicals and bottled it, selling it to doctors and governments. The mass smallpox vaccine campaigns that followed expanded the authority of a new branch of medicine focusing on population-based disease control, called public health. 80
19th century physicians were enlisted by government to give infants and children smallpox vaccine and were persuaded to look the other way when some of them died or were left permanently disabled after developing raging vaccinia virus infections and inflammation of the brain. Fully embracing the utilitarian rationale, public health officials viewed individual smallpox vaccine casualties as necessary losses to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number of people.
Utilitarianism Codified Into US Law: Jacobson v. Massachusetts (1905)
At the turn of the 20th century, utilitarianism was fashionable in intellectual and political circles. It was the philosophical argument used by attorneys in 1905 to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a utilitarian ruling in Jacobson vs. Massachusetts. 81
Lutheran Pastor Henning Jacobsen and his son had suffered severe reactions to previous smallpox vaccinations and Jacobsen argued that genetic predisposition placed him at high risk for dying or being injured if he was forced to get revaccinated. The court dismissed Jacobsen’s concern for his own health and life.
In a split decision with one dissenting vote, the Court that included Oliver Wendell Holmes, issued an opinion that would affirm the legal right for U.S. state legislatures to assign police powers to public health officials to restrict or eliminate individual liberty in order to “secure the general comfort, health and prosperity of the state.” 82
The Court maintained that all citizens can be compelled to receive smallpox vaccinations because the happiness and welfare of the majority outweighs the happiness and welfare of a minority. In other words, individual human sacrifice is ethical and legal if it is done for the common good.
Georgetown law professor and mandatory vaccination proponent Lawrence Gusting has described it as the most important Supreme Court opinion in the history of American public health law. 83
Eugenics: Eradicating the “Unfit” in Buck v. Bell (1927)
In 1927, then Chief Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes used the Jacobson ruling to give the state of Virginia a green light to sterilize Carrie Buck, a 17-year old young single mother who doctors and state social workers had incorrectly judged to be mentally retarded, just like her daughter and mother, they said. 84
Self-identifying as a Darwinian atheist and utilitarian, Chief Justice Holmes’s admiration for exercise of power is reflected in his legal opinions. 85 Holmes did not believe in the concept of natural rights and said, “Between two groups of people who want to make inconsistent kinds of worlds, I see no remedy but force.” 86 He believed scientific knowledge should be used to improve the human race and said, “I can imagine a future in which science shall take control of life, and condemn at once with instant execution what now is left up to nature to destroy.” 87
And, so, when it came to Carrie Buck, Holmes, the eugenicist, coldly proclaimed–
“The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes.” 88
In this merciless 1927 Supreme Court decision, just as in the 1905 Jacobson v Massachusetts decision, Holmes achieved his goal of stripping cultural values and ethical principles from U.S. law. His logic was that if utilitarianism could be used to ensure the common good and protect society from infections through compulsory vaccination laws, then forced sterilization laws could be used to immunize society against becoming infected with bad genes.
Social Darwinism and Eugenics in America Inspired Hitler
Darwin’s theory of natural selection led to Social Darwinism 89 and eugenics that was viewed as a new science by U.S. intellectuals during the 1920s and 1930s. 90 American biologist Charles Davenport had founded the Eugenics Record Office at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island in 1910 91 to improve the human race and soon courses on eugenics were offered at Harvard, Columbia, Cornell, Brown and other universities. The National Education Association had a Committee on Racial Well-Being to help teachers integrate eugenics content into public school textbooks. 92
By 1932, California and 28 other states had passed compulsory sterilization laws and the practice of eugenics was endorsed by leading U.S. scientists, medical doctors, lawyers, professors, businessmen, politicians, philanthropists, and social reformers like Margaret Sanger. The next year, in 1933, Hitler adopted eugenics as a central piece of his plan to protect the common good by eliminating individuals he considered to be a threat to the health, security and economic well being of the State. By the time eugenics became politically incorrect in the 1940’s, physicians implementing government health policy had performed more than 60,000 involuntary sterilizations on mentally disabled or chronically ill Americans. 93
Hitler was influenced by Marx and Nietzsche and inspired by U.S. eugenics laws. He blended utilitarianism with social Darwinism and nationalism to create a view of the State as one biological entity or body that must be kept healthy and free from disease and threats from unfit individuals.
Enlisting the assistance of physicians and public health officials, the first minority considered unfit and expendable were severely handicapped children, the chronically sick and mentally ill, the “useless eaters” they were called. And when the reasons for why a person was identified as a threat to the health, economic stability, or security of the State grew longer to include minorities who were too old or too Jewish or too Catholic or too opinionated or simply unwilling to believe what those in control of the State said was true….as the list of those the State branded as persons of interest to be demonized, feared, tracked, isolated and eliminated grew, so did the collective denial of those who had yet to be put on that list.
Doctors’ Crimes Against Humanity: Judgment at Nuremberg
When doctors were charged with crimes against humanity at the Doctor’s Trial at Nuremberg for carrying out horrific scientific experiments on captive children and adults in the concentration camps, including vaccine experiments, they pointed to U.S. eugenics laws and invoked a utilitarian defense, claiming it was moral to sacrifice the health and lives of individuals to advance scientific knowledge that could save the lives of many more. 94 95
Out of the Doctors Trial at Nuremberg came the Nuremberg Code, of which Yale law professor and physician Jay Katz said, “if not explicitly then at least implicitly, commanded that the principle of the advancement of science bow to a higher principle: protection of individual inviolability. The rights of individuals to thoroughgoing self-determination and autonomy must come first. “ 96
The First Principle of the Nuremberg Code is, “The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential.” 97
The Doctor’s Trial at Nuremberg put a human face on individual victims of immoral government health policies. The Nuremberg Code stands as an uncompromising affirmation of the value of every human life and the natural right to self-determination, a timeless guide to ethical behavior by scientists and physicians.
While post World War II Europe had to process what they had learned from The Doctor’s Trial at Nuremberg and the holocaust, things were very different in America. In our country, prominent members of our society who had promoted and participated in the practice of eugenics were never required to look in the mirror and reflect upon what they had done, or face public disgrace. 98 They just went underground.
Science & Math Rule: History of Philosophy Forgotten
Our perception of what is true and good is very much influenced by the prism through which we are taught to view the world.
In today’s public schools, education is focused on science and math, but the study of philosophy and its’ impact on human history is not valued or taught that often. There is no discussion about the kind of utilitarian thinking that made eugenics acceptable in America.
Few Gen Xers and Millennials, who will steer our nation into the second half of the 21nd century, understand the ramifications of allowing utilitarianism to guide public health policy and law, even as the specter of genetic engineering to change what it means to be human is already underway. 99 100 101 Do they understand the influence of utilitarian philosophers like Dr. Peter Singer, professor of bioethics at Princeton, who says it is ethical to euthanize disabled babies in the first 30 days of life, and it is ethical to euthanize elderly and disabled persons who are not aware they serve no useful purpose in society, because, he says, the life of a severely intellectually disabled person has no greater value than that of a dog or pig? 102
Dr. Paul Offit and other contemporary utilitarians who develop vaccines, make vaccine policy and promote “no exceptions” mandatory vaccination laws 103 are forcing us to kneel before them at an altar reminiscent of the one that a 19th century August Comte, built for his Religion of Humanity. We are not allowed to talk about what is true or good in the public square unless we have medical or academic credentials and then - only if we strictly adhere to promoting their consensus science, a code word for censorship that delegitimizes freedom of thought and dissent.
Debate About Forced Vaccination Transcends Vaccination
Today, everybody knows somebody who was healthy, got vaccinated and was never healthy again. But the vaccine science is settled, say the utilitarians refusing to compare the health of vaccinated children to unvaccinated children. Vaccines do not injure and kill, they say, or – if they do – it is so rare, that requiring some children to sacrifice their lives without their parent’s informed consent is ethical in order to enforce mandatory vaccination laws that serve the greater good.
It is for this reason that the debate about vaccination transcends vaccination. It is the tip of the spear in a much larger war that is being waged on cultural values and beliefs in America, which is why I call it The Vaccine Culture War.
Because if the State can tag, track down and force citizens against their will to be injected with biologicals of known and unknown toxicity today, then there will be no limit on which individual freedoms the State can take away in the name of the greater good tomorrow.
Today the battlefield of the 200 year war on microbes is littered with human casualties far too numerous to count while, in a natural fight to survive, the microbes have evolved to evade the vaccines. 104 And the scientists and physicians in leadership positions determined to win that war continue to fire away, stepping around the bodies of vaccine-damaged children lying on the ground.
Do I think that public health officials flying the science flag with a utilitarian star on it wake up everyday and say to themselves, I want to hurt a child today? Of course not. Most doctors and scientists want to help, not harm people.
Do I think they have lost their way, blinded by a utilitarian pseudo-ethic that makes it easy to ignore the bodies lying on the ground so they can allow themselves to believe that human sacrifice is ethical when it serves the greater good? Yes, I do. They have forgotten to ask themselves this question:
When one individual is considered expendable for the good of society, how many more can be considered expendable? Is it 500, 5,000, 50 million - or more? How many is too many to sacrifice for the happiness of the rest, and who gets to decide which ones among us are expendable?
Holocaust survivor Elie Weisel said, “When you take an idea or concept and turn it into an abstraction, that opens the way to take human beings and turn them, also, into abstractions. When people are turned into abstractions, what is left?” 105
He is right. Abstractions are much easier to write off as coincidences. Abstractions are easier to add up in a column when there is no name or a face put to them. Abstractions do not live or breathe, bleed or convulse, scream or die. Abstractions can be dismissed and buried in files where nobody ever has to look.
Rejecting Utilitarianism & Embracing An Authentic Ethic
After surviving four concentration camps, physician Viktor Frankl called on mankind to reject the materialist view that a person only has value if he useful to society, which makes him a slave to the State. Frankl said:
“The gas chambers of Auschwitz were the ultimate consequence of the theory that man is nothing but the product of heredity and environment—or, as the Nazis liked to say, of ‘Blood and Soil.’” I am absolutely convinced that the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Majdanek were ultimately prepared not in some Ministry or other in Berlin, but rather at the desks and in the lecture halls of nihilistic scientists and philosophers.” 106
Transcending the horror of what he had witnessed, Dr. Frankl was able to see that, “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.“ ..... “It is this spiritual freedom – which cannot be taken away – that makes life meaningful and purposeful.
In the 21st century, all of us are called upon to choose whether or not we will embrace what Albert Schweitzer called “a reverence for life.” 107 It requires us to turn away from materialist philosophers like Hobbes, Bentham, Comte, Marx, Nietzsche and Singer, who say that individual life does not matter, that life has no meaning, and that morality can be reduced to a mathematical equation. Enlightened physicians and scientists with compassion and courage are called upon to take back leadership of their professions from those who have lost their way. Even as those, who have been victims of utilitarian health policies, must continue to witness in the public square.
Only then can we reject utilitarianism as a guide to the practice of medicine so consensus science orthodoxy will give way to real science that yields the truth about vaccination and health. Only then can we transcend the horror of what has happened to far too many children in the name of the greater good and adopt an authentic ethic, one that values individual autonomy and freedom of thought, speech and conscience - civil liberties that have been an antidote to tyranny in its many forms throughout human history.
Our mission continues. No forced vaccination. Not in America.
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