It seems this year vaccine rights have been under attack from all sides. In Vermont, bill S199 aims to remove philosophical exemptions for vaccination altogether, a proposal that has brought concerned parents together to protest this threat to their right to decide what is in the best interests of their child.
Meanwhile, Dr. Bob Sears, author of The Vaccine Book, has a column up on Huffington Post regarding yet another vaccine bill currently under debate in California. Bill AB2109 would require parents who want to skip any vaccines for their child to get a written statement signed by their doctor saying that they have received information about the risks and benefits of the vaccine and the disease it is supposed to protect against. Without this signed government form, parents will not be able to enroll their child in school.
As Dr. Sears points out in his column, giving individual doctors this much control over individual health decisions could be dangerous. Some doctors genuinely believe that vaccines are so beneficial to everyone that they should be mandated. These doctors may not believe that parents should have the right to decline vaccines and, given the power to decide whether or not parents can opt out of a vaccine, may not sign the necessary form. Doctors are already refusing to serve unvaccinated children – do we really think that these same doctors will be willing to sign off on a form that would allow the children to be unvaccinated in the first place?
With many doctors unwilling to sign these forms, parents may be forced to undergo unnecessary expense and effort in trying to find a doctor who will honor their decision. This search will be complicated by the fact that many doctors get financial incentives from insurance companies for having high vaccination rates, while others are simply reluctant to take on non-vaccinating patients. A parent who doesn’t vaccinate, after all, may require fewer appointments – and certainly will not have to pay for all those childhood vaccines. All of this would decrease the doctor’s profits. What incentive does the doctor have, then, for actually seeing unvaccinated patients?
Currently, parents are allowed to simply sign an exemption form if they wish not to vaccinate their child. If you believe that the law should stay that way, and that parents should not need a doctor’s approval to make the best decisions for their child, please visit NVIC and check out how to make your voice heard.