Tag: abuse of medical exemptions

Were Hundreds of Medically Vulnerable Children Expelled from School in New York?

Why do some people think that hundreds of medically vulnerable children were expelled from school in New York?

Hundreds of medically vulnerable children were not expelled from school in New York with valid medical exemptions.

The usual suspects…

Were Hundreds of Medically Vulnerable Children Expelled from School in New York?

So what’s the real story?

A new vaccine law in New York eliminated religious exemptions so that students with non-medical exemptions would not be able to continue to go to school if they were missing one or more vaccines.

As the law continues to allow medical exemptions, it should be clear that as others got caught up on their immunizations, this helps make sure that those who are truly vulnerable are now at less risk of being exposed to a vaccine-preventable disease.

“If a child has a medical exemption to immunization, a physician licensed to practice medicine in New York State must certify that the immunization is detrimental to the child’s health. The medical exemption should specify which immunization is detrimental to the child’s health, provide information as to why the immunization is contraindicated based on current accepted medical practice, and specify the length of time the immunization is medically contraindicated, if known.”

Dear Colleague letter regarding guidelines for use of immunization exemptions

And those kids who do not have a valid medical exemption?

It is very important to understand that their parents have a choice to get them vaccinated and protected so that they can continue go to school.

Unfortunately, some parents and even a few doctors remain confused on what it means to have a valid medical exemption.

Especially in states that have strengthened their vaccine laws, a valid medical exemption must meet certain criteria and follow “current accepted medical practice standards as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.”

That doesn’t mean there can’t be exceptions, but it also doesn’t mean that a child would typically get a medical exemption for any reason simply because someone thinks they should, even if that someone is a doctor, unless the exemption is for an immunization that is “contraindicated based on current accepted medical practice.”

Were hundreds of kids in New York denied medical exemptions?

It is certainly possible when you hear parents tell stories about being denied exemptions for things like autism, ADHD, food allergies, epilepsy, clotting disorders, diabetes, psoriasis, autoimmune disorders, PANDAS, Tourette’s, or MTHFR gene mutations.

Were hundreds of kids in New York denied valid medical exemptions?

No, they weren’t.

More on New York Vaccine Laws

The Vaccine Extremists in the Modern Anti-Vaccine Movement

In 1721, someone through a bomb through the window of the Reverend Cotton Mather’s house in Boston because he was actively promoted smallpox inoculation during a local epidemic.

The vaccine extremists in the modern anti-vaccine movement.

Do we have to be concerned about what the modern anti-vaccine movement might do to folks who advocate for vaccines?

The Vaccine Extremists in the Modern Anti-Vaccine Movement

Before you dismiss the idea, let’s take a look at what they have been doing recently…

Calling for second amendment remedies? Is that a thing in the modern anti-vaccine movement?

“Then I can imagine those same conversations were happening in Nazi Germany amongst the Jewish people. Let’s not talk about it. I don’t want to bring it into my reality. It’s still 20 miles away. I’m still allowed in this theater and not that one. All I have to get is this little star. All I have to do is sign this little thing saying I accept that… that I’m not going to vaccinate because I think that they’re dangerous. And they are dangerous. I’m just going to sign this paper. I’m going to let them put me on a log.

At some point, we have gone too far.

Do you think that it’s a good idea to let the government own your baby’s body. And right behind it, your body. That is the end. To me.

Anyone who believes in the right to bear arms. To stand up against your government. I don’t know what you were saving that gun for then. I don’t know when you planned on using it if they were going to take control of your own body away.

It’s now. Now’s the time.”

Del Bigtree

To many of us, it seems very obvious that anti-vax folks have gone too far.

They don’t seem to get the message though.

Vaccine extremists blocking the entrances to the State Capital in California.
Protestors blocking the entrances to the State Capital in California.

Protesting for a good cause is noble.

But what is it called when you are protesting while holding signs pushing propaganda and misinformation?

The "red liquid substance" was later confirmed to be human blood.
The “red liquid substance” was later confirmed to be human blood.

Remember when a protestor in California threw blood from a menstrual cup at legislators on the Senate floor?

Pretty extreme, right?

Austin Bennett assaulted Richard Pan during a Facebook video he conveniently filmed.
Austin Bennett assaulted Richard Pan during a Facebook video he conveniently filmed.

Or when Austin Bennett assaulted Senator Richard Pan as he walked to lunch?

Of course, the usual response from most anti-vax folks is that these are outliers who don’t represent them. Or they are part of the controlled opposition

Vaccine extremists called a boycott of a local store because their senator was going to speak at their grand opening.
Vaccine extremists called a boycott of a local store because Richard Pan was going to speak at their grand opening.

Not surprisingly, it seems that the denials come from the same folks who set out to ambush, stalk, and attack vaccine advocates.

Senator Richard Pan was harassed at the March For Science in Washington D.C. on Earth Day  in 2017.
Senator Richard Pan was harassed at the March For Science in Washington D.C. on Earth Day in 2017.

Advocates who have done nothing except make sure kids get vaccinated and help protect us from the misinformation that is so often pushed on the Internet and on the signs they hold during their protests.

A finger gun pointed at a shirt covered with "blood everywhere."

Yes, Senator Richard Pan, a pediatrician in California has been a big target in recent years.

Of course, vaccines are tested in placebo controlled trials, some of which even included a saline placebo. Which makes the Stormtrooper an appropriate costume. Remember, they have such bad aim, they never hit their target…

He is not the only one though.

Paul Offit has been a very frequent target of anti-vax critics.
Paul Offit has been a very frequent target of anti-vax critics.

Paul Offit has been a common target.

Protesters banged on the glass during as ZDogg filmed an interview with Paul Offit.
Protesters banged on the glass during as ZDogg filmed an interview with Paul Offit.

Other pediatricians have also been attacked, with protestors showing up at their offices and harassing their patients.

Pediatricians in New York have been targeted too.
“They went up to 3-4 of the morning patients as they walked in, asked them if they vaccinate and when my patients replied yes, one said “Good luck with that!” They gave anti vaccine literature to all the patients and placed flyers on every car in the parking lot.”

But it is not just pediatricians and legislators who are getting harassed.

Who could ever describe Kristen Bell as hateful???
Who could ever describe Kristen Bell as hateful???

Celebrities who advocate for vaccines are also getting harassed and targeted.

Kristen Bell was targeted at Comic Con too.
Kristen Bell was targeted at Comic Con too.

As bad as this kind of harassment has been though, their messaging might be worse.

Fighting to skip or delay your kid's vaccines and keep them in school is not the new civil rights movement.
Fighting to skip or delay your kid’s vaccines and keep them in school is not the new civil rights movement.

Comparing not wanting to vaccinate and protect your kids to the civil rights movement?

That’s pretty extreme, isn’t it?

That they would invoke the Holocaust when talking about vaccines and autism, and compare doctors and lawmakers to Nazis, tells you a lot about the modern anti-vaccine movement.

And you know you are in extreme territory if you are getting called out by the Auschwitz Museum

What else have they been up to?

Defacing public property.

University of Michigan students quickly covered up all of the anti-vax propaganda on this rock.
University of Michigan students quickly covered up all of the anti-vax propaganda.

But do you want to know what maybe the very worst thing that they are doing these days?

How about harassing parents whose children have recently died, trying to make them think that vaccinations were the cause?

Killy did not die from a vaccine injury. He had meningitis.
Killy did not die from a vaccine injury. He had meningitis.

Yes, this is the modern anti-vaccine movement.

It should be clear that the anti-vaccine movement has “shifted its tactics” as they continue to try and scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

“Upon close inspection, the anti-vaccination movement is not about vaccines. It’s an anti-government conspiracy theory. In order to believe the anti-vaccination line, you have to believe the government is working proactively to harm your children (by protecting them from deadly and debilitating diseases). It’s paranoid thinking, and a very small but vocal minority of Americans fervently embrace the irrational fear of immunization.”

The Sacramento Bee Editorial Board on Activism or Terrorism? Anti-vaccine movement must use facts, not violence, to argue

From getting doctors to write unnecessary medical exemptions, misusing religious exemptions, harassing vaccine advocates, targeting minority communities, using racist attacks, and pushing misinformation and conspiracy theories, many in the anti-vaccine movement have clearly moved into extremist territory.

Still, it is very important to remember that these folks are indeed a very small minority, even if they are very vocal and sometimes hard to ignore, especially as they trigger some of the largest outbreaks in recent history and expose high risk kids and adults to life-threatening vaccine-preventable diseases.

And that’s because the great majority of people understand that vaccines are safe, with few risks, and very necessary.

Make the right choice. Vaccinate and protect your family.

More on the Vaccine Extremists in the Modern Anti-Vaccine Movement

About That Amish Vaccine Exemption Lawsuit in New York

An Amish family has filed a lawsuit against a new vaccine law in New York that eliminated religious vaccine exemptions.

An Amish family has filed a lawsuit against a new vaccine law in New York that eliminated religious vaccine exemptions.

Folks who know that Amish do indeed vaccinate their kids are likely surprised by the lawsuit…

About That Amish Vaccine Exemption Lawsuit in New York

Wait, what?

The Amish vaccinate their kids?

While many Amish don’t vaccinate according to the recommended CDC schedule and get all vaccines, many do get at least some of them.

For example, when a large measles outbreak went through Amish communities in Ohio, many got in line to get vaccinated and stop the outbreak, which ended up getting at least 383 people sick.

That wasn’t the only outbreak among the Amish though.

Remember the last cases of wild polio in the United States?

“The 1979 outbreak occurred in unvaccinated Amish persons living in Iowa, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Overall, 15 cases of illness caused by wild poliovirus type 1 occurred among U.S. citizens: all 10 paralytic cases occurred among unvaccinated Amish persons; three cases of transient paralysis occurred among unvaccinated Amish persons; and two nonparalytic cases occurred among unvaccinated members of the Mennonite church who were in frequent contact with Amish persons. Epidemiologic and virologic evidence indicated this outbreak resulted from importation of poliovirus from the Netherlands through Canada (Ontario), where outbreaks had occurred during 1978 in members of religious groups with objections to vaccination.”

Poliomyelitis — United States, Canada

It was in 1979.

It was among the Amish.

And many Amish got vaccinated to help eliminate the endemic spread of polio in the United States.

“Immunization campaigns for the Amish are continuing; at least half of the nation’s Amish have now received 1 or more doses of oral poliovirus vaccine.”

Poliomyelitis — United States, Canada

So the Amish are clearly not against vaccines.

In 2004, there was an outbreak of pertussis (345 cases) in an Amish community in Kent County, Delaware.

“Of the 96 households interviewed in which a pertussis case was discovered, a total of 43 (45%) reported not vaccinating any children in their household, 40 (42%) households reported vaccinating at least some children, and 13 (14%) did not provide this information. Of the 43 households not vaccinating children, 19 cited “fear of side effects” as the reason, 13 reported that they “didn’t think about it,” and 11 did not provide specific reasons for nonvaccination. Of the 40 respondents who reported that their children had received vaccinations, 29 (64%) reported vaccination at vaccine clinics set up at Amish homes by DPH nurses.”

Pertussis Outbreak in an Amish Community — Kent County, Delaware, September 2004–February 2005

Although many of the kids weren’t vaccinated, religion didn’t seem to be what drove that decision.

“Religious factors and access to care were not among reasons most reported. “

Kettunen et al on Evaluation of low immunization coverage among the Amish population in rural Ohio.

It is usually fear, rather than religion that keeps the Amish from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

“The findings from the data analysis demonstrated that fear, especially concern over too many recommended immunizations and immunizations overwhelming the child’s system, was the most frequent reported reasons for not having children immunized according to recommendations.”

Kettunen et al on Evaluation of low immunization coverage among the Amish population in rural Ohio.

Unfortunately, this has meant that their children get a high rate of vaccine preventable diseases and that they end up getting hospitalized at higher rates than other children.

“The outcome of pregnancy was determined for the 94 Amish mothers who reported illness or had serologic evidence of maternal rubella (Table 1). CRS occurred in 10 infants, all of whom were born to mothers who had histories of rubella-like illness in the first trimester; seven had possible manifestations of CRS; nine were miscarried/stillborn; and 68 infants appeared normal at birth. During the study period, medical personnel identified one additional infant with CRS from Lancaster County whose mother was a conservative Mennonite. “

Congenital Rubella Syndrome Among the Amish — Pennsylvania, 1991-1992

So not only do the Amish get sick, they get sick for the same reason as typical anti-vaxxers – misinformation and fear of vaccines.

Is that what’s driving this lawsuit in New York?

I don’t know, but if it was just about religion, why does it include typical anti-vaccine talking points about:

  • fetal DNA contaminating our vaccines
  • that unvaccinated children were not responsible for the 2018-19 NYS measles outbreak, going so far as to cite an affidavit from Lawrence Palevsky, who said that “a measles infection in first world countries such as the United States, in 2019, is not deadly.”
  • how the 2018-19 NYS measles outbreak might not have been “true wild-type measles infections.”
  • that the theory of herd immunity is flawed
  • that vaccinated children pose more of a risk to other vaccinated children than the unvaccinated

More than anything though, how can the lawsuit say that New York’s vaccine law unreasonably burdens his “sincere religious beliefs without a compelling state interest,” when we know that the Amish aren’t really against vaccinating and protecting their kids?

You have to wonder what method his lawyer’s used to pick their “examples” of schools with religious exemptions.

About that compelling state interest…

As many parents have come to abuse religious exemptions, using them as personal belief exemptions, we have ended up in a situation in which over 30 schools in New York had religious exemptions rates of at least 50%, including 14 schools in which each and every student had a religious exemption for all vaccines.

All that even though no major religion is against vaccines!

With such a weak case, forum shopping might be his only strategy that could work…
With such a weak case, forum shopping might be his only strategy that could work…

What happens next?

More court stuff, but in the end, it hopefully means that more kids will be vaccinated and protected and we will #StopTheOutbreaks.

More on the Amish and Vaccines

Why Are States Eliminating Religious Exemptions for Immunizations?

While all states continue to have medical exemptions to getting vaccinated, more and more are eliminating their religious exemptions.

New York is one of the states that is eliminating their religious exemptions for vaccines.
New York is one of the states that is eliminating their religious exemptions for vaccines.

Do you find that surprising?

Why Are States Eliminating Religious Exemptions for Immunizations?

If you do, it might change your mind once you realize that no major religion is actually against immunizations.

“One is morally free to use the vaccine regardless of its historical association with abortion. The reason is that the risk to public health, if one chooses not to vaccinate, outweighs the legitimate concern about the origins of the vaccine. This is especially important for parents, who have a moral obligation to protect the life and health of their children and those around them.”

The National Catholic Bioethics Center FAQ on the Use of Vaccines

In fact, nearly all religions actively support getting kids vaccinated and protected. That makes sense, as vaccines are safe, with few risks, and unvaccinated kids are at increased risk to get a vaccine-preventable disease and put other kids at risk too.

So why do folks get religious exemptions?

Connecticut is another state that is considering eliminating religious exemptions for vaccines.
Connecticut is another state that is considering eliminating religious exemptions for vaccines.

More and more, we are seeing parents abuse religious exemptions, using them as a personal belief exemption because they just don’t want to vaccinate their kids.

More on Religious Exemptions for Immunizations