Vermont Split over the Right to Say NO to Vaccines

Vermont is the new battleground for parents who want the right to refuse getting their kids vaccinated.

According to Associated Press, ‘the lawmakers are at loggerheads; The Senate voted 26-4 in early March to eliminate the philosophical exemption while the House voted 93-36 to keep it. If no agreement is reached, Vermont will remain one of the states that allow some form of philosophical exemption from the required childhood immunizations’.

It’s a balance between individual rights and our obligation to each other in society,” – Vermont House Speaker. (AP)

According to reports, Vermont tops the list of the states where philosophical exemptions are made for the immunization of school- going children. Ideally all children are required to get their recommended shots before they start going to school. These shots can go up to 20 in number.

Certain groups of anti- vaccination camps believe that high number of shots mean that the child’s immune system is overloaded.

A national telephone survey based study, published in the online journal Pediatrics in 2000 by Bruce G. Gellin, MD and colleagues, found that ‘ 25 percent [of the respondents] believed that their child’s immune system could become weakened as a result of too many immunizations, and 23 percent believed that children get more immunizations that are good for them. The researchers found that the parents considered children’s healthcare providers as the most important source of information on immunizations.

“There’s not really any way that as an individual I can do more scientific study than the American Academy of Pediatrics or the Centers for Disease Control,” said Jill Olsen, a mother of two. (Reported by Associated Press)

“The largest number numbers of unvaccinated children lived in counties in California, Illinois, New York, Washington, Pennsylvania, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Utah, and Michigan. States that allowed philosophical exemptions to laws mandating vaccinations for children as they entered school had significantly higher estimated rates of unvaccinated children,’ reports another study published in the journal Pediatrics in 2004 by Phillip J. Smith and colleagues.

In the school year 2010-2011, nearly 9 percent of kindergarten children in Alaska, 7 percent in Colorado and 6 percent each in Washington and Vermont were exempted from immunizations. (Associated Press Analysis)

Another study published in Pediatrics reports that even in conservative Amish societies, parents fear the adverse effects of immunizations.

Recent reports have suggested that Measles have broken a 15 year record in the U.S. as many as 222 cases were reported in the country in the year 2011.

“For many parents, they don’t think there is a threat of disease, they think these diseases are gone,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said,” Unfortunately, measles is not gone”. (FoxNews)

Then there are parents who question the safety of these vaccines.

‘More than 30 percent of the responding pediatricians have dismissed families because of their refusal to immunize. Suburban physicians caring for wealthier, better educated families experience more vaccine concerns and or refusals and are more likely to dismiss families for vaccine refusal. Vaccine refusals have a negative impact on one third of physician respondents’, report Susan Leib, MD., and colleagues on a study that found how physicians respond to parental safety concerns about vaccines.

“ I do not believe that in the end the government should dictate to parents what inoculations their kids have to get in order to get a public education in Vermont,” the governor Peter Shumlin said . The Associate press also reports that the governor has sided with the House’s push for education on immunizations over the Senate’s push to remove the philosophical exemption.

The response to ‘philosophical exemption for the vaccination of school children’ is quite stunning. In an online poll half of the respondents were in support of philosophical exemption while the other rejected it.