Barbara Loe Fisher: Parents Should Be Free to Choose.
On Apr. 13, 2014, USA Today became the first U.S. national newspaper to call for an end to the personal belief exemption to vaccination in the U.S. and for narrowing of “strictly defined” religious and medical exemptions. In an opposing OpEd, NVIC President Barbara Loe Fisher disagreed and said: “Non-medical vaccine exemptions immunize individuals and the community against unsafe, ineffective vaccines and tyranny.”
The OpEds generated a heated online debate among USA Today readers. Within 72 hours, there were more than 15,000 “shares” and 450 comments for the “pro-choice” OpEd and 3,000 “shares “ and 140 comments for the “anti-choice” OpEd. A USA Today reader poll overwhelmingly supported informed consent to vaccination and the freedom to take non-medical vaccine exemptions for religious, philosophical or conscientious beliefs.
Below is a fully referenced version of Barbara Loe Fisher’s OpEd that appeared in USA Today on Apr. 13, 2014. To read the USA Today OpEd, click here.
Leave Parents Free to Choose Vaccines
by Barbara Loe Fisher
Apr. 13, 2014
The public conversation about vaccine safety and choice began after Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 shielding drug companies from product liability and doctors from vaccine injury lawsuits.1 Under that law, $3 billion has been paid to the vaccine injured2 while liability-free drug companies enjoy profits from a multi-billion dollar market.3 4
U.S. health officials now recommend 69 doses of 16 vaccines for every child.5 States mandate up to 15 of them - twice as many as 30 years ago.6 7
With 95% of kindergarteners fully vaccinated8 and one child in six in America learning disabled,9 1 in 10 asthmatic10 and 1 in 50 living with autism,11 educated parents and health care professionals are asking legitimate questions about why so many highly vaccinated children are so sick.12 They are examining vaccine science shortfalls13 14 15 and wondering why Americans are coerced and punished for declining to use every government recommended vaccine16 while citizens in Canada, Japan and the European Union are free to make choices.17
Vaccines carry two risks: a risk of harm18 and a risk the vaccine will fail to prevent disease.19 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention admits that U.S. pertussis outbreaks are not due to a failure to vaccinate but failure of the vaccine to confer long-lasting immunity.20 21
The Institute of Medicine acknowledges major gaps in scientific knowledge about how and why vaccines cause injury and death and who will be more susceptible to suffering harm. 22 23 Vaccine risks are not being shared equally by all because “no exceptions” vaccine mandates discriminate against and penalize those vulnerable to vaccine complications.
Public health officials and pediatricians are not infallible and what is considered scientific “truth” today may not be true tomorrow. When doctors cannot predict ahead of time who will be harmed by a vaccine and cannot guarantee that those who have been vaccinated won’t get infected or transmit infection, the ethical principle of informed consent24 becomes a civil, human and parental right that must be safeguarded in U.S. law.
Non-medical vaccine exemptions immunize individuals and the community against unsafe, ineffective vaccines and tyranny.
Parents Testify In Colorado Senate Opposing Vaccine Bill
Parents and health care professionals filled the Old Supreme Court building in Denver at an Apr. 9, 2014 public hearing of the Colorado Senate Military and Veterans Affairs Committee to testify against a bill (HB1288) to restrict the personal belief exemption to vaccination. The bill is being sponsored by Irene Aguilar (D-District 32) and co-sponsored by Lucia Guzman (D-District 34); Nancy Todd (D-District 28); and Jessie Ulibarri (D-District 21).
Testimony for and against the bill went on for nearly five hours. Just like the Mar. 13 House hearing, parents opposing the bill outnumbered those speaking in support of the bill. Unlike the House hearing, however, the Senate hearing was not as extensively covered by the media.
Burdening Parents and Judging Personal Beliefs
Colorado resident and NVIC Executive Director Theresa Wrangham testified at the hearing that the bill is "discriminatory because it burdens those choosing to take vaccine exemptions with higher education requirements than federal law requires for those choosing to vaccinate." She added that "Those harmed by vaccination are as important as those harmed by a disease..."
Read the rest of this article and make a comment here.
Vaccine Freedom Wall
Have you or your children been threatened or forced to get a vaccination without your voluntary, informed consent? You can share your story with others by posting your experience on NVIC's Vaccine Freedom Wall here.
NVIC in the News
Mumps Outbreak in Ohio. There are 199 reported cases of mumps in Ohio this year in areas with a 90% to 98% vaccination rate among children. "Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of the nonprofit National Vaccine Information Center in Virginia, cautioned against blaming a resurgence of vaccine-preventable illness entirely on people who oppose vaccines. Outbreaks in highly vaccinated populations should also prompt other questions, including the possibility of waning immunity and vaccine effectiveness. The MMR vaccine is about 80 to 85 percent effective. "We have an extremely low exemption rate and a very high vaccination rate," Fisher said.
Read the article in the Columbus Dispatch Apr. 13, 2014.
The Vaccine Controversy. A new global TV network, CCTV, reports that 200 countries have joined with the World Health Organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and pharmaceutical companies to declare the second decade of the 21st century as "The Decade of Vaccines" and will make vaccines available to all 7 billion people on earth. This CCTV report focuses on the debate among parents in the U.S., Japan and Europe about how much or whether to vaccinate their children. Actor Rob Schneider, who defends a parent's right to make informed vaccine choices, is among those interviewed and refers parents to the National Vaccine Information Center to learn more.
Watch the news report on Full Frame in Depth on CCTV-America Apr. 12, 2014.
The Vaccine Debate: One Mother's Perspective. Examining both sides of the vaccine debate, this journalist Mom said, "One of the most helpful places I've come across is the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC). NVIC provides information about which vaccine exemptions-medical, religious, and philosophical-are allowed in each state... NVIC is also an organization of "grassroots activists working to protect and expand vaccine exemptions in your state."
Read the article in The Epoch Times Apr. 3, 2014.
More Independent Study of Vaccines Needed. A Fort Collins, Colorado grandmother says that until scientific studies investigate why "our next generation is so sick and focus more on vaccine safety, is it any wonder that parents are increasingly afraid of vaccines?" She adds, "Instead of looking for answers, there is an increasing movement to just coerce parents into accepting the current vaccination regimen, like Colorado House Bill 1288." She cites NVIC.org as a vaccine information resource.
Read the article in The Coloradoan Mar. 30, 2014.
In the News
Vermont Senate Passes First GMO Labeling Law. A 26-2 vote in the Vermont Senate to require labeling of GMO foods sold in the state makes Vermont the first state to enact a law of this kind if, as expected, Gov. Peter Shumlin signs the bill. There are 60 countries, including the European Union that require the food industry to inform consumers if food contains genetically modified ingredients.
Read the article in the Burlington Free Press Apr. 15, 2014 and a press release from the Organic Consumers Association Apr. 16, 2014.
Colorado Senate Hears Testimony on Vaccine Bill. A bill (HB1288)would require parents to certify they have completed an online-education course about vaccines or obtain the signature of a physician to file a personal belief vaccine exemption. "This moves us toward vaccinations for everyone and eliminating exemptions altogether," said Robyn Charron, a Denver resident with two young children. Charron said her 4-year-old son received a vaccine injury that affected his brain. As a result, her 2-year-old daughter is not vaccinated."
Read the article in The Denver Post Apr. 9, 2014.
Should Vaccines Be Mandatory? In a series of OpEds in the April issue of Reason Magazine, the magazine's editor in chief said "few issues divide libertarians so emphatically as government mandated vaccinations." The magazine's science correspondent criticized people taking vaccine exemptions but admitted that "for the sake of social peace, vaccine opt-out loopholes based on religious and philosophical objections should be maintained." A surgeon and Cato Institute scholar defended free will and argued for persuasion rather than coercion. He said, "A free society demands adherence to the non-aggression principle. No person should initiate force against another." A primary care physician concluded "This is an ethical issue that goes to the heart of our basic human right to informed consent to any drug treatment or medical intervention."
Read the OpEds in Reason Magazine (April issue)
Interview with a Pediatrician Who Thinks Vaccines Are "Messing with Nature." A pediatrician from a large pediatric practice in Marin County, California that combines western medicine with holistic health approaches to pediatric health care said, "We've reduced or largely eliminated many infectious diseases. But in their place, we have an epidemic of chronic illnesses in children. The incidence of asthma, allergies, and autism spectrum disorders has dramatically increased since the 1990s. And the reason for this we don't know. But my concern is that vaccines have played a role."
Read the article in Mother Jones Mar. 30, 2014.
Parents Blackmailed by Doctor: Consent to Vaccine or We Take Your Newborn. A staff pediatrician at St. Vincent's Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama refused to allow a newborn baby to go home with his parents unless he was given a hepatitis B shot. When the parents refused, the doctor said she was calling Child Protective Services, a state agency that would take custody of the child, vaccinate him and hand him back to the parents. Fearing they would lose their baby, they were forced to sign an "informed consent" form that they were voluntarily consenting to the hepatitis B vaccination.
Read the article in The Inquisitr Mar. 28, 2014.
Risk of Contracting Infection Higher in Hospitals. About 1 in every 25 patients gets an infection from a hospital stay and it is estimated that in 2011 about 648,000 Americans developed an infection while hospitalized. About 75,000 of those patients died while in the hospital.
Read the article in Health Day News Mar. 26, 2014.
Read the article in Health Day News Mar. 26, 2014.
Making Vaccinations Manadatory for All Children. In a series of OpEds in the Mar. 23, 2014 New York Times, journalist and educated Mom Jennifer Margulis writes "It is a news media-driven misperception that parents who claim philosophical or religious exemptions are uneducated or misinformed. Most parents who individualize the vaccine schedule are actively educating themselves, continually assessing their family's specific health needs...We believe in freedom of choice." Disagreeing with her was a Children's Hospital of Philadelphia pediatrician advocating that religious and personal belief exemptions should be "curtailed," while a former Surgeon General said that "the only exemption from immunization should be for religious reasons" and two British physicians warned that "If parents are coerced into vaccinating their child, it may not only damage their relationship with their health providers but be counterproductive."
Read the OpEds in the New York Times Mar. 23, 2014.
May 7-8, Sept. 17-18 and Nov. 19-20, 2014, with a backup summer date of July 17-18: Meeting dates for the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee in Silver Spring, MD.
Jun. 5-6, Sept. 4-5 and Dec. 4-5, 2014: Meeting dates for the
June 10-11 and Sept. 9-10, 2014: Meeting dates for the National Vaccine Advisory Committee in Washington, DC.
June 25-26 and Oct. 29-30, 2014. Meeting dates for the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices in Atlanta, GA.