Tag: vaccine choice

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

Is It Rational to Be Anti-Vaccine?

Why do some people think that they are making a rational decision when they skip or delay their children’s vaccines?

Are parents making a rational decision when they skip or delay their children's vaccines?
Are parents really making a rational decision when they skip or delay their children’s vaccines?

Is it because they “know” that they are right?

Or because others reinforce their beliefs?

Is It Rational to Be Anti-Vaccine?

Whatever the reason, we should be clear that skipping or delaying vaccines, leaving your child at risk to get a vaccine-preventable disease and putting others at risk, is really not a rational decision.

“It is not the case, of course, that people make decisions about vaccination based solely on rational, evidenced-based, scientific perspectives.”

Timothy Caulfield et al on Injecting doubt: responding to the naturopathic anti-vaccination rhetoric

Instead, people often seem to skip or delay vaccines after fear helps a number of cognitive biases, heuristics, and logical fallacies take hold and change their perception of risk into something that is much different from reality. That fear is stoked by misinformation and propaganda they see on the Internet or hear from friends and family.

Or they become influenced by the idea that their child has been damaged or injured by a vaccine, even though in the great majority of cases, it has been shown that vaccines do not cause those problems.

“Well, if you’re going to inform yourself about vaccines, I think anybody who’s truly informed will realize that getting a vaccine is much better than not getting one. If you’re choosing not to vaccinate your child, it’s because you’re getting, frankly, bad information about vaccines.”

Paul Offit, MD

So call it what you want, but no, in general, it is not rational to be anti-vaccine, especially considering that:

Do you know what the biggest clue that it isn’t a rational decision in most cases?

Changing Your Mind About Vaccines

When a rational person is given new evidence or information that not only challenges their worldview, but blows it out of the water, what do they do?

They change their mind.

“It is irrational to hold any view so tightly that you aren’t willing to admit the possibility that you might be wrong.”

What would it take to convince you that you were wrong?

When do anti-vax folks change their minds?

“I don’t feel I’m putting my child at risk. There’s nothing that’s going to change my mind on this on that specific vaccination.”

More often than not, it is after one of their kids gets sick or there is a disease outbreak nearby.

Instead of changing their minds in the midst of disease outbreaks and immunization mandates, some parents decide to break the law

If you are not vaccinating and protecting your kids, what would it take to get you to change your mind about vaccines?

Do you need to see double blind placebo controlled studies, studies with saline placebos, studies with vaccines tested together, or long term safety studies?

Do you need to remind yourself what the pre-vaccine era was like? Or understand what will happen if too many people stop vaccinating their kids?

Don't wait until it's too late to vaccinate your child.
Don’t wait until it’s too late to vaccinate your child.

Whatever it takes, hopefully you don’t wait too long and regret your decision.

Of course, no one wants to intentionally harm their children. But you can’t do what’s right and make a rational decision if you are relying on bad information and advice.

More on the Idea of Rational Anti-Vaccine Beliefs

The Bob Sears Snare

Dr. Sears has been a well-known pediatrician for many years, writing books about breastfeeding, fussy babies, and sleep, and advocating for co-sleeping and attachment parenting before most people even knew what those things were.

He also advocates for vaccines.

“Because of my “historical” perspective, I have grown to appreciate the value of vaccines as a necessary public-health measure. Currently in our pediatric practice, we follow the vaccine schedule recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.”

Dr. William Sears on Ask Dr. Sears: Vaccination/Immunization Concerns

If you are a little confused, that’s because you may not have known that Dr. Bob Sears’ father is also a pediatrician. In fact, they practice together, even if they don’t seem to agree on everything.

Who is Bob Sears?

Dr. Bob Sears believes that alternative immunization schedules are safer than getting vaccinated on time, mostly because he seems to think that most vaccine-preventable diseases aren’t that serious.

“I created my alternative vaccine schedule that allows parents to go ahead and vaccinate, simply in a more gradual manner. And I find a lot of worried parents who otherwise would refuse vaccines altogether are very happy to go ahead and vaccinate if they’re doing it in a way that they feel safer about.”

Dr. Robert W. Sears: Why Partial Vaccinations May Be an Answer

Dr. Bob appeared to have noble goals when he wrote his vaccine book – to convince more parents who were on the fence to get vaccinated – or at least to eventually get vaccinated, even if they had to delay some vaccines to get there.

“As parents’ fears of vaccines grow, I think we may see fewer and fewer parents decide to vaccinate. And then we could see what used to be very rare illnesses become more common. We might see measles escalate. We might see diphtheria come back into the United States. God forbid, we might see polio come back. Then children are going to start dying. And then a lot of those parents that had chosen not to vaccinate might change their mind, and they might start vaccinating again, and then new parents might be more inclined to vaccinate their babies if we see these diseases come back.

Now, I hope and pray that doesn’t happen. I hope that we can maintain adequate herd immunity in our country so we don’t see these diseases return. But that worry of diseases coming back into our country, and the worry of diseases running rampant and killing a lot of babies, I don’t think that supersedes the parents’ basic right to choose what they want to do for their children. And if parents want to accept the disease risk because they don’t trust the vaccines, I think they have the right to make that choice.”

Dr. Robert W. Sears: Why Partial Vaccinations May Be an Answer

It didn’t work.

It may just be a correlation, but vaccine rates went down after he wrote his book, especially among clusters of worried parents, some of whom would walk into their pediatrician’s offices carrying his book or the immunization schedule he made up.

The Bob Sears Snare

More than anything though, it seems like he has contributed to parents not trusting vaccines.

“What I do instead is I give two vaccines at a time, at 2 months, 4 months and 6 months. I also give two of the vaccines that I’m skipping on alternative months: 3 months, 5 months and 7 months. And I’m avoiding a big overload. I’m giving only a couple vaccines at a time. I feel that babies will experience fewer vaccine reactions; I think babies’ bodies can handle them better. Their immune system can handle them better that way, and I think a lot of parents simply feel more safe about that kind of approach.”

Dr. Robert W. Sears: Why Partial Vaccinations May Be an Answer

See what he did?

Instead of reassuring parents that vaccines don’t overload a baby’s immune system, Dr. Bob tells them that his schedule avoids a “big overload.”

Bob Sears appeared on Fox & Friends in 2010 for the segment "Vaccines: A Bad Combination?"
Bob Sears appeared on Fox & Friends in 2010 for the segment “Vaccines: A Bad Combination?”

If they weren’t scared about vaccines before they heard of Dr. Bob, they probably were after reading some of his stuff.

And once you fall into the snare and get scared, it is hard to get out.

What makes it even more frustrating?

The things he scares parents about aren’t even true!

Dr. Bob misrepresents science and gets parents to believe that vaccines aren’t well tested, that vaccine-preventable diseases aren’t dangerous, and that vaccine ingredients, like aluminum are dangerous.

And although he talks about choice and informed consent all of the time, by misinforming parents about vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases, he is actually taking away their ability to make an informed choice.

Not surprisingly, even Dr. Bob seems to have been snared by his rhetoric about vaccines.

“As a doctor, I don’t like to undermine the CDC and to help parents mistrust the CDC. Obviously the CDC does so much good for us. They have our best intentions in mind, and they do so much research. And I think parents can overall trust what the CDC says.”

Dr. Robert W. Sears: Why Partial Vaccinations May Be an Answer

He went from saying in a 2010 interview that parents should trust the CDC and that “There’s so much safety research behind vaccines that most parents should feel very confident in their safety” to now giving presentations at anti-vaccine conferences on How to Counter the Lies Politicians and the Media Use to Pass Mandatory Vaccination Laws.

What’s the worst thing about Dr. Bob though?

Bob Sears warned everyone that measles would come back if too many people listened to him in The Vaccine Book
Bob Sears warned everyone that measles would come back if too many people listened to him in The Vaccine Book

It’s not that he actually predicted what would happen if too many people began to follow non-standard, parent-selected, delayed protection vaccine schedules, but that he thinks he is an expert on autism.

“By trying to say that there is no significant increase, is the government hoping to reassure people that autism isn’t a significant problem? That the rising number of children with autism isn’t something that anyone has to worry about? Are they trying to avoid a panic?”

Dr. Bob Sears

In a recent report about autism rates, there was no conspiracy, as Dr. Bob suggests. Unlike Dr. Bob and some others, the CDC was simply trying to not mislead people into thinking that the change from 2.24 to 2.76% meant something that it did not.

What to Know About The Bob Sears Snare

The Bob Sears Snare is a technique that anti-vaccine folks use to misrepresent science so that you actually think you are doing the right thing for your kids by skipping or delaying vaccines and leaving them unprotected.

More on Bob Sears

Did New York’s New Vaccine Law Kick 26,000 Students Out of School?

A lot of people seem to think that New York’s new vaccine law ended up kicking 26,000 students out of school.

New York's new vaccine law didn't kick 26,000 students out of school.
New York’s new vaccine law didn’t kick 26,000 students out of school.

What else do they think?

That's their choice - keeping their kids out of school because they don't want to vaccinate and protect them.
That’s their choice – keeping their kids out of school because they don’t want to vaccinate and protect them.

No medical exceptions? Have they read the new law?

New York’s New Vaccine Law

Of course, none of what these folks believe is true.

Let’s look at a timeline of what did happen in New York.

On June 13, lawmakers in New York passed A02371A, which “Relates to exemptions from vaccinations due to religious beliefs; and repeals certain provisions relating to exemption from vaccination due to religious beliefs.”

And the bill was quickly signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“Public Health Law 2164 and Section 66-1.4 of the regulations require that a child shall not continue to attend school for more than 14 days (30 days may be granted for children from out of the state or out of the country) unless the school has received a certificate of immunization, documentation that the child is “in process,” or a medical (exemption).”

School Survey Instruction Booklet Questions and Answers

What is not in New York’s new vaccine law?

There are no forced injections.

Everyone still has a choice on whether or not to vaccinate their kids. They simply can no longer to choose to send their intentionally unvaccinated kids to school if they don’t have a valid medical exemption anymore.

What about adults? There are no plans for mandates for most adults, besides maybe the requirements for flu vaccines for some health care providers.

Yeah, but the part about 26,000 kids being kicked out of school must be true, right?

Actually no, it isn’t.

That number is simply the count of kids with religious exemptions in 2017-18, over a year before New York’s new vaccine law went into effect.

But they would all have been kicked out of school if they didn’t get vaccinated, wouldn’t they?

Sure.

“While some parents who had religious exemptions plan to unenroll their kids, more are expected to bring their kids into compliance with the vaccine schedule. Karen LaCelle, a community health nurse with the Tompkins County Health Department, said their vaccine clinic has been busier than usual this summer as kids get caught up with requirements.”

More than 200 kids in Tompkins impacted by New York’s vaccine requirement change

But many did get vaccinated.

“In Saratoga Springs, the district excluded 66 students as of Sept. 20 but that number was down to about 10 students by Oct. 10, according to a district spokeswoman.”

Holding fast to vaccine objections, families grapple with unplanned homeschooling

And stories of kids leaving to be homeschool are few and far between.

“In Schenectady, over 300 students showed up at the start of the school year without all of their vaccines, and more students have joined the district since the start of school without all of the vaccines. But most, if not all, of those students have since fulfilled the vaccine requirements, said district spokeswoman Karen Corona.”

Holding fast to vaccine objections, families grapple with unplanned homeschooling

Anyway, it wasn’t Governor Cuomo or any other politician that would have been keeping these kids out of school.

The police aren't keeping this child out of school, her parents and their vaccine choice are.
The police aren’t keeping this child out of school, her parents and their vaccine choice are.

Parents have the choice to get them vaccinated and protected if they want to keep them in school.

Did New York’s New Vaccine Law Kick 26,000 Students Out of School?

Still, no where near 26,000 kids have been kept from going to school this year in New York because of their new vaccine law.

So how many were affected?

Although no official numbers have been released, it will almost certainly be closer to 260 or 2,600 than 26,000.

It seems that most parents in New York ended up vaccinating and protecting their kids and keeping them in school.

More on New York’s New Vaccine Law