Poll – vaccines and religious exemptions

Both California and Illinois recently have enacted legislation tightening vaccine exemption requirements. California’s SB277 made vaccinations nearly mandatory (except for those children with legitimate medical exemptions), whereas Illinois’ SB1410 tightened up religious exemptions, although I am skeptical that it will really do anything.

So what do you think about vaccines and religious exemptions – what would you like to see?

 

Illinois vaccine religious exemption – far from perfect

The times are a-changing. States are starting to get tougher with vaccine refusers who are sending their kids to school. Next up a change in Illinois vaccine religious exemption requirements.

It looks like California SB 277, which eliminated non-medical exemptions for vaccines, and mandated vaccinations for most children entering public or private school, has started a positive trend with regards to vaccination requirements. Of course, the drop in vaccination rates and the abuse of exemptions started the trend. Continue reading “Illinois vaccine religious exemption – far from perfect”

California’s vaccine exemption laws – clustering effects

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.

Broad vaccination is considered one of the 10 greatest achievements in public health. Vaccines should probably be number 1 on the list. Overall, the immunization mandate has established a strong herd effect, which has generally ended transmission of these diseases.

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”

California SB 277 vaccine exemption bill passed by Senate

An important healthcare bill that abolishes “personal belief exemptions” for vaccinations was overwhelmingly approved by the California Senate on May 14 2015.

The measure, SB 277 was sponsored by California Senator Richard Pan MD, who was a target of violent threats by the antivaccine cult because of his support of this healthcare bill, and by Ben Allen, of Santa Monica. The bill was introduced after a outbreak of measles in December at Disneyland sickened 136 Californians, and it passed 25-10 after the two senators agreed earlier to compromises aimed at easing its passage.

The proposed California SB 277 vaccine exemption law would require children to be vaccinated before entering kindergarten. Medical exemptions are permitted, but exemptions based on personal and religious objections are not. That would make California one of only three states — the others are Mississippi and West Virginia — that doesn’t allow personal or religious exemptions to vaccine laws.

The bill will now go to the California State Assembly, where further hearings will be required. If it passes the Assembly, Governor Jerry Brown would have to sign or veto the new law. At each step, we can expect further

Continue reading “California SB 277 vaccine exemption bill passed by Senate”

Immunization requirements neither discriminate nor segregate

This article was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines (generally, but sometimes moving to other areas of medicine), social policy and the law. Her articles usually unwind the complexities of legal issues with vaccinations and legal policies, such as mandatory vaccination and exemptions, with facts and citations. 

Additionally, Reiss is also 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.

Anti-vaccine activists have been claiming that statutes abolishing exemptions from school immunization requirements – like SB277 in California – are discriminatory. This post explains why this claim is wrong in both its form: school immunization requirements without exemptions are neither discrimination nor segregation.

Continue reading “Immunization requirements neither discriminate nor segregate”

Yes, herd immunity works

Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines (generally, but sometimes moving to other areas of medicine), social policy and the law. Her articles usually unwind the complexities of legal issues with vaccinations and legal policies, such as mandatory vaccination and exemptions, with facts and citations.

Professor Reiss also writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also 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.

This piece is a summary of Herd Immunity and Immunization Policy: The Importance of Accuracy, soon to be published in v. 94 of Oregon Law Review.

In an article that was published in the Oregon Law Review in 2014, authors Holland and Zachary claimed that school immunization mandates are inappropriate because they reject the concept that herd immunity works.

This piece will explain  why Holland and Zachary’s analysis is simply incorrect. And let’s be clear–there is a legitimate debate about  whether school immunization mandates are appropriate, policy wise, as a response to non-vaccination.

Unlike vaccine science, the appropriate policy to handle non-immunization is not agreed upon, and the data on what is the right way to get people to vaccinate is anything but clear (though some things are clear: for example, harder to get exemptions lead to higher vaccination rates). But the debate needs to be premised on accurate facts – not on misuse of legal terms and incorrect scientific data. Holland and Zachary’s article does not provide that. Continue reading “Yes, herd immunity works”

Anti vaccine cult – violent threats against California Senator

The anti vaccine cult has hit another low, sending out violent death threats against California Senator Richard Pan, who introduced SB 277, the bill that would repeal the personal belief exemption to school vaccine mandates. The bill still allows for legitimate medical exemptions (like immunocompromised children who need to be protected through the herd effect).

Although Sen. Pan is the leader of the legislators who are attempting to make this bill into law, many other lawmakers are championing mandatory vaccines for children to protect the general population have withstood intense and illogical criticism from the anti vaccine cult.

Continue reading “Anti vaccine cult – violent threats against California Senator”

Passing vaccine legislation after Disneyland outbreaks

This is a guest post by Karen Ernst, who is the parent-leader of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease. Karen is the mother of three boys and the wife of a military officer, living in Minnesota. 

The Disneyland measles outbreaks should have yielded unprecedented vaccine legislation tightening religious and personal exemptions from vaccinations for children across the country. After all, kids got measles. From Disneyland. Make it stop, right? Continue reading “Passing vaccine legislation after Disneyland outbreaks”

California SB 277 vaccine legislation protects children

Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines (generally, but sometimes moving to other areas of medicine), social policy and the law. Her articles usually unwind the complexities of legal issues with vaccinations and legal policies, such as mandatory vaccination and exemptions, with facts and citations. 

Additionally, Reiss is also 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.

[pullquote]Wake up, and speak for protecting your children from the risk of disease a minority has been allowed to choose for the rest of us.[/pullquote]

Two bills are currently proposed in California that may dramatically affect vaccination rates. Anti-vaccine activists have mobilized against them. We, the majority of vaccinating parents, need to do the same, speak up and make our preferences known. Say clearly that we will no longer have a preventable risk of disease forced on our children, ourselves, and other family members and friends by a minority. And we can.  Continue reading “California SB 277 vaccine legislation protects children”

Court decides parents’ refusing vaccinations – not “free exercise of religion”

The US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio has ruled (pdf)  that a parent’s refusing vaccinations for her children against diseases is not a “free exercise” of religion, and is tantamount to neglect.

In April 2010,  the Tuscarawas County (Ohio) Jobs and Family Services (TCJFS) took custody of the children of Charity and Brock Schenker as a result of a domestic violence matter between the parents. TCJFS determined that the children were “neglected and dependent” and worked out case plans for the parents which included psychiatric evaluations, drug testing and supervised visitation of their children. When TCJFS asked about the children’s immunizations, according to Secular News Daily, “Mrs. Schenker claimed she had religious objections to immunizations. The court informed her that the immunizations would be ordered.”

Continue reading “Court decides parents’ refusing vaccinations – not “free exercise of religion””