Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.
In late February, a lawsuit challenging an employment mandate, that county officers in New Mexico receive a COVID-19 vaccine, was filed in a district federal court. Although there is some uncertainty on whether an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) vaccine mandate is legal, this lawsuit is not well-founded, and the county’s response very well-argued. Hopefully, the court will reject this claim.
All 50 US states (along with several territories and DC) require mandatory vaccination for children entering public (and frequently, private) schools. This system has essentially ended most vaccine preventable diseases in the USA, including measles, polio, chickenpox, and many others.
Even though vaccinating children before they enter school is mandatory, there are ways around it, if you choose. Every state allows medical exemptions, which is based on a proven risk for a child to not be vaccinated with one or more vaccines. For example, some vaccines are produced in chicken eggs, and a tiny percentage of children are allergic. Medical exemptions are absolutely critical to the well being of the child, and no pro-science (pro-vaccine) writer or researcher would be opposed to those types of exemptions.
Furthermore, most states have vaccine exemption laws which allows personal belief exemptions (PBE). These PBEs fall into one of two groups–religious exemptions, that is, the parent “claims” that their religion is opposed to vaccines; or personal exemptions, which are simply based on the fact that the parents are opposed to vaccination for whatever reason that hits their brain after 20 minutes of Googling “facts.”
Most states allow both types of exemptions, some only allow religious exemptions, and one state, Mississippi, allows only medical exemptions. As a progressive, there is little positive I can say about Mississippi, but this is a major positive. So congrats Mississippi for caring about children, at least in this one important way. Continue reading “California’s vaccine exemption laws – clustering effects”
According to the New York Daily News, a Staten Island father has sued the City and State of New York to block his four year old son from being tossed out of school because their parents refuse to vaccinate him:
A Staten Island father is suing the city and the state after his 4-year-old son was booted from pre-K class because of the parents’ objection to vaccines.
The father, identified only as P.R. in the lawsuit over the contentious issue, is a Catholic who had sought a religious exemption to the state law requiring that every child attending a public, private or parochial school must be immunized from 11 communicable diseases.
His son was removed from his public school classroom on Dec. 23 after city Department of Education officials rejected the father’s appeal of an earlier decision. The city concluded the paperwork he submitted “does not substantiate … that you hold genuine and sincere religious beliefs which are contrary to immunization,” according to the suit.
Last month, the city added a requirement that children under 5 who attend preschool or day care must get flu shots.
As I discussed previously, the pendulum is swinging against the so-called “philosophical exemption” against vaccination, which allows parents to not vaccinate their children based on the “just because I don’t want to” principle. They don’t even have to support their exemption with a discussion with a healthcare worker who might explain the risks of their decision.
Outstanding news. Tara Haellereported inNature News & Comment that US state legislatures are beginning to pass laws that make it more difficult for parents to obtain so-called personal exemptions to vaccinations before children attend public schools.
The study found that the number of medical exemptions was relatively low during the seven years of the study period, but the rate was more than 6X higher in states with relatively easy medical exemption criteria when compared to states with more difficult exemption standards. As I reported previously, as more parents get vaccine exemptions, herd immunity can be impacted, and children in schools with low immunization levels can face outbreaks of diseases that were once thought rare. Continue reading “Make vaccine exemptions more difficult to obtain”
Sadly, whooping cough (Bordetella pertussis) has killed an infant in San Miguel County, New Mexico. According to the New Mexico Department of Public Health said that it was the first time that an infant in the state has died from pertussis since 2005. The infant was two months old, and had been given the first of three doses of the DTaP vaccine, which immunizes children against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. The vaccine doesn’t induce a sufficient immune response until the third dose, which is given at around 6 months, so infants are at risk from being infected by the bacteria. The only way the infant could have contracted whooping cough was from another infected person, like an adult (whose immunity has lapsed) or an unvaccinated child.
In the same report, the state’s Department of Health say that New Mexico experienced more whooping cough cases in 2011 than any time since the 1980’s. They also state that they have confirmed 110 cases of the disease s0 far in 2012, ahead of the rate in 2011. Of those 110, 13 have been in infants, and of those eight required hospitalization.
This case is very sad, because the parents were responsible, and got their child vaccinated. But someone else, who was not immune or a child whose parents refused to vaccinate them, passed this dangerous infection on to the dead child.