A few weeks ago, we mentioned the way in which vaccine exemptions have been attacked during this past year. We seem to be moving closer and closer to mandatory vaccination and away from the concept of informed consent.
You will be glad to know that one of the bills mentioned in that post was amended to protect parents’ right to choose. The Vermont House voted to uphold philosophical exemptions for vaccines in the state – that is, the right of parents to refuse vaccines based on their philosophical beliefs. The House’s decision came despite the Senate vote, earlier this year, to eliminate such exemptions.
While this is heartening, there is still work ahead for those of us who are skeptical regarding vaccine safety and who therefore want to protect a parent’s right to decide in the best interests of their child. It is likely that the pharmaceutical industry will attempt to pass similar legislation in all states with philosophical exemptions, even though there is no evident relationship between vaccination rates and population health. Vermont itself is a great example of this: while public health officials have seen Vermont’s childhood vaccination rate fall between 2005 and 2010, Vermont still topped the list of the healthiest states in the United States. One of the criteria considered was the low rate of infectious disease – the rate that would be most affected by parents opting out of so-called “disease preventing” vaccines. One has to wonder how effective vaccines are at promoting healthiness if a state with “one of the worst childhood immunization rates… in the country” is still the healthiest state in the nation.
It is clear that there was no health crisis in Vermont prompting this change in legislation. Indeed, the legislation was driven solely by the pharmaceutical industry’s desire for even more grossly inflated profits. After all, what better way to sell more drugs than to legally require every single human being in the US to take them?
This is what we are fighting against – to remind lawmakers that there are humans affected by the issue, not just industry profits. If you have a moment, please encourage Vermont – and other state legislators – to continue to protect our rights over our own bodies here. We must speak for ourselves.