On Apr. 13, 2014, USA Today became the first U.S. national newspaper to call for an end to the personal belief exemption to vaccination in the U.S. and for narrowing of “strictly defined” religious and medical exemptions. In an opposing OpEd, NVIC President Barbara Loe Fisher disagreed and said: “Non-medical vaccine exemptions immunize individuals and the community against unsafe, ineffective vaccines and tyranny.”
The OpEds generated a heated online debate among USA Today readers. Within 72 hours, there were more than 15,000 “shares” and 450 comments for the “pro-choice” OpEd and 3,000 “shares “ and 140 comments for the “anti-choice” OpEd. A USA Today reader poll overwhelmingly supported informed consent to vaccination and the freedom to take non-medical vaccine exemptions for religious, philosophical or conscientious beliefs.
Leave Parents Free to Choose Vaccines
by Barbara Loe Fisher
Apr. 13, 2014
The public conversation about vaccine safety and choice began after Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 shielding drug companies from product liability and doctors from vaccine injury lawsuits.1Under that law, $3 billion has been paid to the vaccine injured2 while liability-free drug companies enjoy profits from a multi-billion dollar market.34
With 95% of kindergarteners fully vaccinated8 and one child in six in America learning disabled,9 1 in 10 asthmatic10 and 1 in 50 living with autism,11 educated parents and health care professionals are asking legitimate questions about why so many highly vaccinated children are so sick.12 They are examining vaccine science shortfalls131415 and wondering why Americans are coerced and punished for declining to use every government recommended vaccine16while citizens in Canada, Japan and the European Union are free to make choices.17
Vaccines carry two risks: a risk of harm18 and a risk the vaccine will fail to prevent disease.19 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention admits that U.S. pertussis outbreaks are not due to a failure to vaccinate but failure of the vaccine to confer long-lasting immunity.2021
The Institute of Medicine acknowledges major gaps in scientific knowledge about how and why vaccines cause injury and death and who will be more susceptible to suffering harm.2223 Vaccine risks are not being shared equally by all because “no exceptions” vaccine mandates discriminate against and penalize those vulnerable to vaccine complications.
Public health officials and pediatricians are not infallible and what is considered scientific “truth” today may not be true tomorrow. When doctors cannot predict ahead of time who will be harmed by a vaccine and cannot guarantee that those who have been vaccinated won’t get infected or transmit infection, the ethical principle of informed consent24 becomes a civil, human and parental right that must be safeguarded in U.S. law.
Non-medical vaccine exemptions immunize individuals and the community against unsafe, ineffective vaccines and tyranny.