Tag: exemptions

Advocates Rallying for Vaccines

Have you ever been to a vaccine rally?

Vaccine advocates at a support rally in Minnesota.
Vaccine advocates at a support rally in Minnesota.

Why would you…

Advocates Rallying for Vaccines

Well, as some folks have gotten to protesting against vaccines, it is becoming important that the rest of us show our support for vaccines, something that many of us have long taken for granted.

Protesting against vaccines is now a thing.
Protesting against vaccines is now a thing.

If we don’t, the very vocal minority who are against vaccines are going to use their voice to influence legislators to weaken vaccine laws and put all of our kids at risk.

Vaccine advocates in Texas.
Vaccine advocates in Texas.

More of us need to speak up and advocate for vaccines.

Vaccine advocates speaking up in support of a vaccine bill in California.
Vaccine advocates speaking up in support of a vaccine bill in California.

After all, the great majority of us vaccinate our kids and get ourselves vaccinated and protected.

Strong vaccine laws protect kids in Maine.

And we are starting to make sure everyone knows that they want strong vaccine laws that protect their kids.

Vaccine advocates making sure their voice is heard at the Capital in California.
Vaccine advocates making sure their voice is heard at the Capital in California.

Especially our legislators who can pass laws that will keep our kids safe from vaccine preventable diseases.

Advocates at the March for Science reminded folks about the importance of vaccines.
Advocates at the March for Science reminded folks about the importance of vaccines.

Vaccine preventable diseases that will come back if more and more parents don’t vaccinate their kids, which becomes easier if vaccine laws are weakened.

We choose to send our kids to schools free of vaccine-preventable diseases.
We choose to send our kids to schools free of vaccine-preventable diseases.

Vaccines are safe, with few risks.

Vaccines are necessary to protect our kids.

Vaccines are necessary to protect our kids.

Got Smallpox?

Are you ready to pick up a sign?

This kid should also thank his parents for making sure he was vaccinated and protected!
This kid should also thank his parents for making sure he was vaccinated and protected!

Or are you at least ready to call your legislators?

Don’t let those who don’t support vaccines put your kids at risk.

Don’t let them put my kids at risk.

More on Vaccine Advocates

New Vaccine Bills and Laws in 2020

New York and Maine passed new vaccine laws in 2019.

They join California, Mississippi, and West Virginia as the only states that do not allow either religious or personal belief vaccine exemptions.

Washington also passed a law removing non-medical vaccine exemptions in 2019, but only for the MMR vaccine. And New Jersey passed a law mandating meningococcal vaccines for college students, something that is still only required in fewer than half of states.

New Vaccine Bills and Laws in 2020

So what can we expect in 2020?

Remember, it was a record setting year for measles in the United States. The worst since 1992…

Surprisingly, in addition to some bills calling for stronger vaccine protections, there are others trying to weaken existing laws!

Does House Majority Leader Lee Qualm have any idea why we ever started to have school vaccination requirements?
Does House Majority Leader Lee Qualm have any idea why we ever started to have school vaccination requirements?

Yes, in South Dakota, someone is actually proposing that they do away with school vaccine requirements!

Fortunately, most vaccine bills in the rest of the country would actually help protect our kids from vaccine-preventable diseases.

  • HB 103 in Alabama would require health care providers to report and check the state immunization registry before giving a vaccine
  • HB 2429 in Arizona would require that schools post immunization rates for their students on their websites
  • SB 163 in Colorado would create a standardized vaccine exemption form and require parents to complete an online education module before obtaining a non-medical exemption
  • HB 5044 in Connecticut would require insurance companies to cover a 20 minute consultant about vaccines
  • HB 5044 in Connecticut would strengthen medical exemptions and eliminate religious exemptions to school immunization requirements.
  • DC B23-0171 in the District of Columbia, the Minor Consent for Vaccinations Amendment Act of 2019, would allow a minor to be vaccinated if they “comprehend the need for, the nature of, and any significant risks inherent” to getting their vaccines.
  • HB 825 in Florida would allow pharmacists to administer flu vaccines to kids who are at least 7 years old – a watered down version of the original bill that would have allowed pharmacists to give any vaccine to children
  • SB 64 in Florida would eliminate religious exemptions to vaccine requirements to attend school and create a medical exemption review panel to review all medical exemptions
  • SB 674 in Florida would require a minimum percentage of children in child care facilities to be vaccinated
  • HB 615 in Georgia would allow minors who are at least 16 years old to be vaccinated without parental consent.
  • SB 3668 in Illinois would eliminate religious exemptions for vaccines and allow minors who are at least 14 years old to be vaccinated without parental consent
  • HB 4870 in Illinois would require HPV vaccines for students entering 6th grade.
  • HF 206 in Iowa would eliminate religious exemptions for vaccines to attend school
  • HB 87 in Maryland would allow mature minors who are at least 16 years old to be vaccinated.
  • H.3999 in Massachusetts would eliminate religious exemptions for vaccines to attend school
  • H.4096/S.2359 in Massachusetts would standardize immunization requirements and the exemption processes and give the Department of Public Health authority to collect immunization data statewide.
  • S.1264 in Massachusetts would add the HPV vaccine to the vaccines required to attend school
  • HB 4610 in Michigan would require schools to post signs if more than 5% of students in a school aren’t vaccinated
  • HB 1581 in Missouri would allow a minor to get vaccinated, without needing a parent to give consent.
  • S902 and A969 in New Jersey would only allow medical exemptions and if a sibling had a vaccine injury
  • S1013/A2673 in New Jersey would create a public awareness campaign concerning the importance of getting vaccinated and protected.
  • A1603 in New Jersey would require HPV vaccines for kids in middle and high school.
  • S4244/A6564 in New York would allow minors who are at least 14 years old to be vaccinated without needing a parent to give consent
  • S298/A2912 in New York would require HPV vaccines for kids born after January 1, 2009.
  • HB 1771 in Pennsylvania would require parents seeking a religious or philosophical exemption to get an annual medical consultation to understand the existing threats to children’s health from communicable diseases, and to get briefed on potentials for school exclusion and quarantine, in the case of outbreaks.
  • SB 653 in Pennsylvania would eliminate religious exemptions for vaccines to attend school
  • H 684/S 314 in Vermont would allow minors who are at least 12 years old to get the hepatitis B and HPV vaccines and preventative services for STIs without needing a parent to give consent
  • H 622 in Vermont would suspend religious exemptions for vaccines if the immunizations in a school went below 95 percent.
  • HB 1090 in Virginia would continue to allow non-medical exemptions, but would now mandate all of the vaccines on the current CDC immunization schedule, except the seasonal flu vaccine
  • AB 863 in Wisconsin would allow minors who are at least 16 years old to be vaccinated without needing a parent to give consent
  • AB 248/SB 262 in Wisconsin would eliminate personal belief exemptions for vaccinations

Don’t want to see any new vaccine laws or mandates in your area?

Bob Sears warned us that we would see outbreaks if too many people listened to his advice...
Bob Sears warned us that we would see outbreaks if too many people listened to his advice…

Stop spreading misinformation and propaganda about vaccines that scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids. That’s what leads to lower immunization rates, which causes disease outbreaks, and gets you stronger vaccine laws.

Instead, be a vaccine advocate and make sure your state legislators know that you support strong vaccine laws that will keep us all protected from vaccine-preventable diseases, even as more and more folks try and abuse vaccine exemptions.

More on New Vaccine Bills and Laws

Vaccination Coverage and Exemption Rates

With record numbers of measles cases this year, lots of folks are interested in vaccination coverage and exemption rates.

You are at increased to get sick and can spread diseases if you are unvaccinated.
You are at increased to get sick and can spread diseases if you are unvaccinated.

Even though our own kids are vaccinated and protected, many of us are concerned about vaccination and exemption rates because we understand the risks.

We know that some kids are too young to be vaccinated and some kids can’t be vaccinated, as they have true medical exemptions.

Vaccination Coverage and Exemption Rates

So how are our vaccination and exemption rates doing these days?

Some states have rates of vaccine exemptions that are much higher than others, with rates from ranging from a low of 0.1% in Mississippi to a high of 7.7% in Idaho and Oregon.
Some states have rates of vaccine exemptions that are much higher than others, with rates from ranging from a low of 0.1% in Mississippi to a high of 7.7% in Idaho and Oregon.

According to the latest reports from the CDC:

  • the percentage of kindergartners with a vaccine exemption continues to slowly rise and is now up to 2.5%, up from 2.3% during the 2017-18 school year
  • an additional 2.8% of kindergartners were not up to date for MMR and did not have a vaccine exemption
  • the percentage of kindergartners up to date for MMR ranged from 87.4% in Colorado to 99.2% in Mississippi
  • coverage by age 24 months was ≥90% for ≥3 doses of polio- virus vaccine (92.7%), ≥1 dose of MMR (90.4%), ≥3 doses of HepB (91.0%), and ≥1 dose of varicella vaccine (90.0%), and are all up over previous years by 1 to 3%
  • only 56% of toddlers receive two or more doses of the flu vaccine by age two years
  • only 1.3% of children born in 2015 and 2016 had received no vaccinations by the second birthday, which is up from 1.1%
  • up to 7.4% of uninsured children received no vaccines, even though they qualify for free vaccines under the Vaccines for Children program

This doesn’t tell the whole story though.

“During the 2018–19 school year, national coverage with MMR, DTaP, and varicella vaccines remained near 95%. However, coverage and exemption rates varied by state. Recent measles outbreaks in states with high overall MMR coverage, such as New York, highlight the need for assessing vaccination coverage at the local level. ”

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Volume 68, Issue Number 41 Vaccination Coverage with Selected Vaccines and Exemption Rates Among Children in Kindergarten — United States, 2018–19 School Year

Although vaccination rates are generally high and exemption rates low at the state and national level, it is the pockets of undervaccinated kids that are the problem.

In Texas, for example, although state level exemptions are fairly low (2.4%) and immunization rates high, in some communities and school districts, more than 50% of kids are unvaccinated!

“The importance of achieving and sustaining high vaccination coverage across all communities is illustrated by the 22 measles outbreaks occurring in the United States in 2019, with 1,249 measles cases identified during January 1–October 1, 2019. Most cases have been among persons who were not vaccinated against measles. Pockets of low vaccination coverage, because of lack of access to vaccination services or to hesitancy resulting from the spread of inaccurate information about vaccines, increase the likelihood of a measles outbreak. “

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Volume 68, Issue Number 41 Vaccination Coverage by Age 24 Months Among Children Born in 2015 and 2016 — National Immunization Survey-Child, United States, 2016–2018

Unfortunately, we don’t see that kind of local data in the latest reports on vaccination coverage and exemption rates.

And while we should certainly work to get everyone vaccinated who doesn’t have an exemption, lots of work needs to be done educate parents that they should vaccinate and protect their kids instead of seeking non-medical exemptions.

More on Vaccination Coverage and Exemption Rates

Responses to New Vaccine Laws

As anti-vax folks haven’t been very successful in stopping states from passing necessary new vaccine laws, what are they doing now?

“In the Plainview-Old Bethpage School District, Superintendent Dr. Lorna Lewis says they had about 65 students affected by the change in religious exemptions. That number is now down to about 20.”

Deadline for unvaccinated students arrives in New York schools

Fortunately, many are vaccinating and protecting their kids!

Anti-Vax Responses to New Vaccine Laws

Not all of them though…

Some of the more outrageous responses to new vaccine laws have included looking to get fake immunization records and sending 'fake' kids to get tested for immunity.
Some of the more outrageous responses to new vaccine laws have included looking to get fake immunization records and sending ‘fake’ kids to get tested for immunity.

Some are fighting the laws.

In Maine, it appears that one group submitted more than enough signatures to get on a ballot that could overturn their new vaccine law that eliminated non-medical exemptions.

A bold response to a new vaccine law - trying to get it overturned.
Will voters in Maine overturn a new vaccine law?

How did they do it?

People said they were misled into signing a petition to overturn a new vaccine law in Maine.
People said they were misled into signing a petition to overturn a new vaccine law in Maine.

There are many reports that the folks gathering signatures in Maine misled people into signing.

Did signature collectors in Maine lie to get enough support for their anti-vax petition?
Did signature collectors in Maine lie to get enough support for their anti-vax petition?

When you actually look at the petition that the vaccine choice in Maine used, it is easy to see that it is basically a list of anti-vaccine talking points that often scare and mislead parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids, including that Maine’s new vaccine law:

Kinder MEs are high in most of Maine.
Kinder MEs are high in most of Maine.
  • Eliminates parents’ ability to decide what’s best for their children. – Vaccine mandates don’t force parents to vaccinate their kids. They still have a choice, even if they don’t like what their choices which no longer include sending their intentionally unvaccinated kids to school.
  • Will harm, not help, public health. – Getting more kids vaccinated and protected does not harm public health!
  • Strips parents of their right to religious freedom. – Which religions are against getting kids vaccinated and protected?
  • Prevents a minority group from receiving an education. – Since parents have a choice on whether or not to vaccinate their kids, it is not the schools or the state that is preventing intentionally unvaccinated kids from receiving an education.
  • Those who need medical exemptions cannot get them. – Every state allows medical exemptions. Under some new vaccine laws, unscrupulous health care providers can no longer make up their own rules for what counts as a medical exemption though.
  • Our childhood vaccination rates are high. – Fortunately, vaccination rates are generally high in most of the country, but that’s not the issue. It is the clusters of unvaccinated kids that are typically the problem. At the Maine Coast Waldorf School, for example, only 38% of kids had the recommended two doses of MMR!
  • Unvaccinated children are not a risk to the immunocompromised. – This is simply not true.
  • Vaccines DO cause injury. – Yes, but the risks from vaccines are small, unlike vaccine-preventable diseases, they very rarely cause severe injuries.

What are they doing in other states?

In New York, they have tried to equate their choice to not vaccinate their kids, which is what’s actually keeping those kids from going to school, with efforts to desegregate schools in the 1960s.

It's sad that these parents think that wanting to send their intentionally unvaccinated kids to school compares to the efforts to get Ruby Bridges into school and other civil rights issues.
It’s sad that these parents think that wanting to send their intentionally unvaccinated kids to school compares to the efforts to get Ruby Bridges into school and other civil rights issues.

And while some kids are now being homeschooled, some parents continued to send their intentionally unvaccinated kids to school, right up until the deadline to get vaccinated and protected, hoping their lawsuits would succeed and keep their kids in school.

They haven’t so far.

And they likely won’t in the future.

Other parents, when they lose one exemption, simply try to substitute it with another.

Are kids with true medical exemptions getting denied as schools see a lot of inappropriate exemptions for things like MTHFR?
Are kids with true medical exemptions getting denied as schools see a lot of inappropriate exemptions for things like MTHFR?

Can’t get a personal belief exemption anymore? Try a religious exemption. And when they take that away, go with a medical exemption.

Of course, that doesn’t work once schools no longer accept inappropriate medical exemptions.

What will work?

Getting their kids vaccinated and protected.

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and are obviously necessary.

More on Responses to New Vaccine Laws