Tag: mandatory vaccinations

The History of Vaccine Exemptions

As we are starting to see some states get rid of their exemptions with new vaccine laws, it is important to understand that many non-medical exemptions came on the scene relatively recently.

After vaccine mandates to start school helped eliminate measles in the United States, over just a few years, from 1998 to 2000, 15 states added personal belief vaccine exemptions. Texas and Arkansas added theirs a little later, during the 2003-04 school year.

The History of Vaccine Exemptions

What happened in 1998 that made state lawmakers in 15 states allow parents to use personal belief vaccine exemptions to opt out of vaccinating and protecting their kids?

Andrew Wakefield happened in 1998...
Andrew Wakefield happened in 1998…

Oh yeah, that’s when Andrew Wakefield published his infamous paper in Lancet that was later retracted.

That’s right, these exemptions had their origins in perhaps the biggest anti-vaccine myth of them all!

Not that there weren’t warnings. Many of us knew adding the exemptions was a bad idea at the time…

The Austin American Statesman published an editorial in 2003 urging Legislators to fix the mess they had just created.
The Austin American Statesman published an editorial in 2003 urging Legislators to fix the mess they had just created.

And now, here we are with rising rates of vaccine-preventable disease as folks use and abuse their exemptions.

So while you are thinking about whether or not your state legislators should be taking away your personal belief vaccine exemption, a better question would likely be why they added them in the first place.

More on the History of Vaccine Exemptions

What Did Benjamin Franklin Say About Vaccines?

Wait, we had vaccines when Ben Franklin was around?

You can learn what Benjamin Franklin thought about vaccines from his autobiography.
You can learn what Benjamin Franklin thought about vaccines from his autobiography.

That was a long time ago.

What Did Benjamin Franklin Say About Vaccines?

Well, we had variolation

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

Benjamin Franklin

The Benjamin Franklin quote many anti-vaccine folks are using these days (do anti-vaccine folks get daily talking points to use?) doesn’t really have anything to do with vaccines though, at least not in the way that they think it does.

“The Franklin quote he nodded to on Tuesday, ironically, means the opposite of what Paul was arguing. When Franklin said, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety,” he was opposing the Penn family’s attempt to carve out an exception for themselves from the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s attempt to tax their lands for the collective good of frontier defense. The liberty Franklin was defending was the liberty the rest of us deserve now, too — liberty to choose to protect ourselves.”

Saad B Omer on Rand Paul is wrong: Vaccines are no threat to liberty

It should be clear that Ben Franklin’s quote shouldn’t be used to attack vaccine mandates. If anything, it can be used to attack free-riders and those who skip or delay vaccines and try to hide in the herd!

“It is a quotation that defends the authority of a legislature to govern in the interests of collective security. It means, in context, not quite the opposite of what it’s almost always quoted as saying but much closer to the opposite than to the thing that people think it means.”

Benjamin Wittes onBen Franklin’s Famous ‘Liberty, Safety’ Quote Lost Its Context In 21st Century

Interestingly, Benjamin Franklin did famously talk about vaccines, or at least smallpox variolation.

“In 1736 I lost one of my sons, a fine boy of four years old, by the small-pox, taken in the common way. I long regretted bitterly, and still regret that I had not given it to him by inoculation. This I mention for the sake of parents who omit that operation, on the supposition that they should never forgive themselves if a child died under it; my example showing that the regret may be the same either way, and that, therefore, the safer should be chosen.”

Benjamin Franklin

He got a little temporary safety, avoiding the side effects of variolation, but what were the consequences? What did he lose?

What do you lose when you make decisions about vaccines based on vaccine misinformation?

What do folks like Rand Paul have to gain by speaking out against vaccines?

More on Benjamin Franklin and Vaccines

What Level of Mercury Is Considered Toxic?

Why would an Arizona State Representative be posting about mercury and flu shots?

It’s easy to figure out once you look at the rest of her posts…

What Level of Mercury Is Considered Toxic?

We should start off by correcting a few things in Representative Kelly Townsend’s post.

The mercury in a thimerosal containing flu vaccine is ethylmercury, not methylmercury, the type that we might be exposed to in a can of tuna.

And mercury is only considered to be toxic if you are exposed in specific ways, at specific levels, and depending on the length of exposure.

“In case reports of accidental high-dose exposures in humans to thimerosal or ethylmercury toxicity was demonstrated only at exposures that were 100 or 1000 times that found in vaccines.”

FDA on Thimerosal in Vaccines Questions and Answers

Not only is the ethylmercury in vaccines not toxic, since only a small percentage of flu vaccines now contain thimerosal and you almost have to go out of your way to get a vaccine with thimerosal, you have to wonder why Representative Kelly Townsend is posting about it?!?

If she is really concerned about mercury toxicity, she should be sure that the EPA is truly doing everything they can to reduce mercury pollution and our exposure to mercury. She shouldn’t be scaring folks away from vacinating and protecting their kids.

Still, I guess it is much better than some of her other recent anti-vaccine posts, like the one that is said to have compared mandatory vaccinations to forced number tattoos

More on Toxic Levels of Mercury

Why Did Anti-Vaccine Folks Applaud Rand Paul’s Testimony at the Senate Health Committee Hearing on Vaccines and Outbreaks?

Wait, what?

Why Did Anti-Vaccine Folks Applaud Rand Paul's Testimony at the Senate Health Committee Hearing on Vaccines and Outbreaks?

Anti-vaccine folks actually applauded Rand Paul’s testimony at the Senate Health Committee Hearing on Vaccines and Outbreaks?

Why Did Anti-Vaccine Folks Applaud Rand Paul’s Testimony at the Senate Health Committee Hearing on Vaccines and Outbreaks?

Surprisingly, many of the things he said weren’t anti-vaccine.

I guess they ignored those parts…

  • …given the choice, I do believe that the benefits of most vaccines vastly outweigh the risks.
  • I’m not hear to say don’t vaccinate your kids… if this hearing is for persuasion, I’m all for the persuasion. I vaccinated myself. I vaccinated my kids.
  • For myself and my kids, I believe that the benefits of vaccines greatly outweigh the risks…

So why were they cheering?

Because that’s not all he said…

“Today, instead of persuasion, many governments have taken to mandating a whole host of vaccines, including vaccines for non-lethal diseases.”

Sen Rand Paul

While some vaccine-preventable diseases are more deadly than others, they can all be deadly. From rotavirus and HPV to hepatitis A, these diseases can kill people.

Which vaccine-preventable disease does he think is non-lethal?

“Sometimes these vaccine mandates have run amok. As when the government mandated a rotavirus vaccine that was later recalled because it was causing intestinal blockage in children.”

Sen Rand Paul

That’s an interesting example of “the government” that has run amok…

Which “government” mandated that the original rotavirus vaccine be given to children?

As Senator Paul hopefully understands, the Federal government doesn’t mandate vaccines for anyone. And since it must be given at such a young age, even states don’t actually mandate that the rotavirus vaccine be given to children…

Even today, there are no mandates for the rotavirus vaccine.

If there were, it still wouldn’t mean giving up your Liberty, after all, vaccine mandates don’t mean forced vaccination.

“It is wrong to say that there are no risks to vaccines. Even the government admits that children are sometimes injured by vaccines. Since 1988, over $4 billion has been paid out from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Despite the government admitting to and paying $4 billion for vaccine injuries, no informed consent is used or required when you vaccinate your child. This may be the only medical procedure in today’s medical world where an informed consent is not required. “

Sen Rand Paul

No one says that there are no risks to vaccines. That’s a classic anti-vaccine talking point.

What folks actually say is that vaccines are safe, with few serious risks.

And the $4 billion that Rand Paul and anti-vaccine folks often talk about has been paid out over more than 30 years, during a time that we have given nearly 300 million doses of vaccines each and every year!

But what’s that he said about informed consent?

Why wouldn’t informed consent be given or be required before getting a vaccine?

Of course, parents get informed consent before getting vaccines.

They don’t get informed consent if they decide to skip or delay their child’s vaccines after getting bad information.

“Now proponents of mandatory government vaccination argue that parents who refuse to vaccinate their children risk spreading these diseases to the immunocompromised community. There doesn’t seem to be enough evidence of this happening for it to be recorded as a statistic, but it could happen. But if the fear of this is valid, are we to find that next we will be mandating flu vaccine?”

Sen Rand Paul

Lastly, why didn’t Sen Paul find evidence that intentionally unvaccinated kids are spreading disease to the immunocompromised community?

Maybe he didn’t look…

It happens.

Do we need it to happen more often so that it becomes a large statistic before he and others will advocate that folks get vaccinated to attend school?

Do you understand have a better understand now why anti-vaccine folks were cheering after his testimony?

“If you believe in Liberty, that’s fine, don’t get immunized. But I don’t think that you need to necessarily expose others to disease.”

Sen Bill Cassidy

It should give you a better understanding both of Rand Paul’s ideas and those of the anti-vaccine movement.

More on Rand Paul’s Testimony at the Senate Health Committee Hearing on Vaccines and Outbreaks

Who is Larry Cook?

Larry Cook is either one of the movers and shakers of the modern anti-vaccine movement, with his Stop Mandatory Vaccine group, a ‘double agent’ who worked to oppose a vaccine law in California, while also lobbying for the law, or someone who other anti-vax folks claims “puts his own profit far ahead of our children.”

Who is Larry Cook?

Larry Cook says that he has devoted himself to natural living for over 25 years.

“I studied video production and photography at Clover Park Vocational-Technical Institute in Tacoma, Washington and I received my bachelor’s degree from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA.”

From developing natural living magazines and self-publishing a book about ADHD, he became the Executive Director of the California Naturopathic Doctors Association, a position he held for four years.

He resigned in 2016 to devote his time to “educating” folks about vaccines.

“Finally, I believe my mission is to educate as many parents and others as possible about the dangers of vaccination, the lack of efficacy of vaccination, and why natural immunity is superior to vaccination.”

He even has a GoFundMe page to support his mission…

Is Larry Cook on a mission to take advantage of and profile parents who think that their kids have been vaccine injured?
A mission to take advantage of and profile parents who think that their kids have been vaccine injured? Who he thinks have been vaccine injured, even when the parents don’t.

How did he get started in his quest to save children from vaccines, which he believes are a “200 year old mistake?”

“In late March or early April, 2015, Mr. Cook started a GoFundMe campaign to produce short films, interviews with parents who felt their children had been damaged by vaccines, in order to share those stories with legislators and the general public to build opposition to SB277.”

ConspiraSea, SB277, Colin McRoberts, Larry Cook, and Me

Of course, SB277 passed, and Larry Cook soon left his job as Executive Director of the California Naturopathic Doctors Association, with a new career and salary from his GoFundMe donations.

Why are anti-vax folks always participating in and promoting “free” online summits? They never disclose that they are making money from them, but they usually are.

I guess his campaign went well, at least for him.

It turned into a full time job.

“A video I wish I didn’t have to make. When I started in this movement, I had no idea it would be as corrupt as pharma.

But I have had my eyes opened many times over…this video describes just one of many disappointments along the way: Larry Cook, who runs a popular page and group.

In the beginning, I believed what he told me and tried to look past the many odd comments and strange behaviors. But it ultimately became clear that he puts his own profit far ahead of our children.

That in and of itself wasn’t enough to motivate me to speak out and open myself up to the hundreds of attacks I would get, I kept hoping the truth would be exposed by someone else. And while some have tried, the past couple of weeks I have seen too much to stay silent any longer.”

Brandy Vaughan

 Surprisingly, he even has critics in the anti-vaccine world

Unfortunately, they aren’t critical of his extreme views, including that vaccines are “filled with poison” (they aren’t), are “unnecessary” (they are very necessary if you want to avoid life-threatening vaccine preventable diseases), don’t work (they do work), and that outbreaks are a “manufactured problem” (what???).

Vaccines are safe and necessary. Don’t let folks like Larry Cook scare you away from vaccinating and protecting your kids.

More on Larry Cook

Did Trump Lay the Groundwork to Ban Mandatory Vaccinations?

Have you heard that Donald Trump is going to ban mandatory vaccinations?

Or that he is going to ban childhood vaccinations all together?

Guess what?

That’s right, neither is true.

Did Trump Lay the Groundwork to Ban Mandatory Vaccinations?

To be sure, anti-vaccine folks were likely excited when Donald Trump was elected President.

Donald Trump's vaccine and autism tweet.

In addition to his tweets that tried to associate vaccines with autism, there were reports that he was going to set up a committee on vaccine safety that would be headed by Robert F Kennedy, Jr!

So the idea that he might try to ban vaccines was probably thought of as a safe bet for some.

Fortunately, it wasn’t.

Which vaccines kids need to go to daycare and school are mandated by state law. Despite what some folks might think, there are no federal vaccine mandates.

While there is a new a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division in the HHS Office for Civil Rights, it doesn't ban vaccinations.
While there is a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division in the HHS Office for Civil Rights, it doesn’t ban vaccinations.

And even with the announcement of a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division in the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR), there is no ban on mandatory vaccinations across the United States.

“The creation of the new division will provide HHS with the focus it needs to more vigorously and effectively enforce existing laws protecting the rights of conscience and religious freedom, the first freedom protected in the Bill of Rights.”

HHS Announces New Conscience and Religious Freedom Division

Could you interpret this is laying the groundwork for allowing religious exemptions to vaccines?

Again, vaccine mandates are set by state law, so no, you shouldn’t. Anyway, almost all states already allow religious exemptions to getting vaccinated, even though no major religion is actually against vaccinating and protecting kids from life-threatening vaccine-preventable diseases.

“Conscience protections apply to health care providers who refuse to perform, accommodate, or assist with certain health care services on religious or moral grounds.”

Conscience Protections for Health Care Providers

A proposed rule, Protecting Statutory Conscience Rights in Health Care; Delegations of Authority, that might have affected vaccines funded by Federal medical assistance programs, never took effect. In fact, the White House urged HHS to not finalize the rule after the Office of Management and Budget said they weren’t complying with necessary rules to get it implemented on time.

 “The AAP wishes to underscore its recognition of the important role of religion in the personal,spiritual, and social lives of many individuals, including health providers. Balancing that role with efforts to ensure children have appropriate access to needed health and social services is critical to meeting their health needs and supporting their health and well being. As HHS considers potential changes to regulations and policy guidance to encourage the provision of grants and contracts to faith-based organizations, we urge you to ensure that federal policy does not undermine children’s access to needed care and services.”

Collen Kraft, MD, FAAP, President of the American Academy of Pediatrics

Not surprisingly, major medical associations were against the proposed rule, and not just because of potential effects on vaccines, even though it wouldn’t have actually banned vaccines.

“The proposal would dramatically expand the discretion that religious or moral objectors have to refuse care without meaningful safeguards to ensure that the rights of those receiving care are protected.”

AMA on HHS should withdraw proposal on health care conscience rights

Sadly, as Kennedy and many anti-vaccine folks focus and what they think are toxins and poisons in vaccines, they seem to be ignoring the fact that Donald Trump is going to expose our kids to many more real toxins and poisons through his efforts to slash Clean Water Act protections and other EPA regulations.

At least we can look forward to no bans on mandatory vaccines, even though many parents continue to abuse existing vaccine exemptions, putting us all at risk.

More on Trump and Vaccine Policy

Who was Betty Bumpers?

Only when every child has completed his or her series of immunizations will our job be completed.

Even as some schools and communities continue to face outbreaks of measles, chicken pox, and other vaccine-preventable diseases, there is a very good chance that your kids are in a school where you don’t have to worry about them getting sick.

There is also a good chance that you have no idea who made that possible.

Who was Betty Bumpers?

Sure, a lot of it has to do with all of the parents who are making the right choice in vaccinating and protecting their kids.

And of course, there are the folks who actually developed the vaccines.

But there was a time when we had many vaccines and kids still weren’t getting protected.

“I don’t think that there is anything more important than immunizing our children and preventing unnecessary suffering. We’ve seen too much of that and it’s been so exciting now to see immunization rates going up. Betty Bumpers and I have worked on this for a long time, but Betty Bumpers is the real hero. She has done more for immunizations than any one person in this whole country.”

Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter

That changed in the early 1970s, when Betty Bumpers, as the First Lady of Arkansas, worked to raise immunization rates in her state, with the Every Child By ’74 campaign.

The Every Child in '74 immunization program immunized over 300,000 children in Arkansas.
The Every Child in ’74 immunization program immunized over 300,000 children in Arkansas.

She didn’t stop in Arkansas though.

“I believe our program, based upon volunteers and government agencies already in pace, has been tremendously successful.”

Betty Bumpers

In 1975, she told a Senate subcommittee that her immunization program could serve as a model for other states too.

“Measles incidence declined dramatically after large vaccination campaigns, but transmission was not interrupted. The licensure of rubella vaccine in 1969 led to mass campaigns to immunize children to avert an anticipated repeat of the tragic epidemic of 1964–65, which resulted in the births of approximately 20,000 infants with congenital rubella syndrome. The rubella campaigns diverted attention and funding from measles, resulting in a resurgence of measles. Federal funding for Section 317 declined during the early to mid-1970s. Immunization coverage fell, and disease increased.”

Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, Immunizations, and MMWR — 1961–2011

A few years later, President Jimmy Carter announced the National Childhood Immunization Initiative of 1977, a program that was stimulated by the efforts of Betty Bumpers, with Rosalynn Carter.

In addition to increased spending on immunization programs, we soon had laws in every state requiring students to be vaccinated before they could attend school, and not surprisingly, measles cases quickly dropped.

It didn’t last.

Without support for immunization programs from the Reagan administration, vaccination rates dropped and measles cases soared.
The Role of Measles Elimination in Development of a National Immunization Program

In the year’s that followed the Carter administration, Federal support for vaccine programs reached a low point, as rates of children living in poverty and without health insurance also increased.

To help combat this rise in vaccine-preventable disease, Betty Bumpers, again with Rosaylnn Carter, launched Every Child By Two – Carter/Bumpers Champions for Immunization.

Founded in 1991, Every Child By Two, now Vaccinate Your Family, has worked to raise awareness about the importance of getting vaccinated on time and on schedule. This was especially important at the time, when many preschool age kids weren’t getting vaccinated. And it still is, as misinformation about vaccines continues to scare some parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

She also worked with her husband, Senator Dale Bumpers, to encourage Bill Clinton’s administration to develop the Childhood Immunization Initiative, which he proposed in 1993, and to pass the Vaccines for Children Program, which was created by the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993.

The Dale and Betty Bumpers Vaccine Research Center wad dedicated in 1999.

In addition to her work helping get kids vaccinated, Betty Bumpers:

She is truly a hero and should be remembered for all of the work she did.

Whether folks understand it or not, it is because of the work of Betty Bumpers that even as some folks skip or delay their child’s vaccines, the outbreaks they cause are eventually contained before they get out of control.

Betty Bumpers was a champion in our efforts to reduce the burden of vaccine-preventable diseases among children in the United States.  She played a major leadership role as 1st Lady of Arkansas in improving immunization in that state and was inspirational in launching the first major Presidential Initiative on Immunization during the late 1970s.  She continued to be a major immunization advocate through much of her life launching “Every Child By Two (ECBT)” which she chaired along with Mrs. Rosalyn Carter, now “Vaccinate Your Family”.

Walter Orenstein

That work will continue to save the lives of millions of children, at least it will as long as we don’t let folks chip away at it, allowing them to abuse exemptions and spread propaganda, scaring parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

That’s why we all must continue her work

For as Betty Bumpers said, “only when every child has completed his or her series of immunizations will our job be completed.”

More on Betty Bumpers