By Barbara Loe Fisher
If you are a resident of Washington state, you should know that there is a bill quietly sailing through your state legislature that violates your privacy and threatens your right to make informed, voluntary decisions about vaccination. House Bill 1015 1 and Senate Bill 5005 also discriminates against parents by failing to give them equal protection under the federal National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 (PL 99-660). 2
New Law Threatens Informed Consent Rights and Violates First Amendment
The proposed new law will legally require doctors and nurses to personally sign off on all religious or personal belief exemptions to vaccination filed with the state. Parents seeking non-medical exemptions will be required to include a signature from a vaccine provider on the exemption form stating that they have been given vaccine benefit and risk information. 3 Currently Washington state mandatory vaccination laws 4 only require signatures from medical personnel when medical exemptions are filed.
If this bill becomes law, it will put doctors, nurses and other medical personnel in the legal position of acting as inquisitors of religious beliefs held by fellow citizens, which is an invasion of privacy and a de facto violation of First Amendment rights. 5 Americans associated with the medical profession will have the power to sit in judgment of, or interfere with, the free exercise of religious, spiritual or conscientious beliefs of other Americans. It will also make it easier for doctors to punish parents making selective vaccine choices by denying their children medical care, which is the official policy of many U.S. pediatricians. 6
The ethical principle of informed consent 7 to medical risk taking means that you, as an individual or the legal guardian of an individual, have the human right to be fully informed about the benefits and risks of a medical intervention and make a voluntary decision without being harassed or coerced by anyone. 8 The informed consent principle protects individuals in every society from exploitation by those in positions of power in medicine, government and industry. 9, 10, 11
The proposed Washington state bill makes it easier for doctors and other medical personnel to violate an individual's informed consent rights and discriminate against those filing vaccine exemptions, who may hold different beliefs and values. 12, 13, 14, 15 Informed consent is especially important when it comes to vaccination because doctors and nurses cannot predict ahead of time who will be injured by vaccines. More than $2 billion dollars has been awarded by the U.S. Court of Claims 16 to compensate vaccine victims, mostly children, whose doctors did not know they would suffer brain inflammation, immune dysregulation and become permanently disabled or even die after vaccination. 17, 18, 19
Bill Also Ignores Federal Law Requirements
Co-sponsors of the new Washington state vaccine law do not acknowledge in the bill that there is already a federal law in place since 1986, 20, 21 which legally requires doctors, nurses and all vaccine providers to:
- Give parents vaccine benefit and risk information before vaccination takes place; Record serious health problems, including hospitalizations, injuries and deaths, after vaccination in the child's permanent medical records;
- Report serious health problems after vaccination 22 to the federal Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) 23
- Keep a permanent record of all vaccines given, including the manufacturer's name and lot number.
Unfortunately, today most vaccine providers do not obey these important federal law requirements. So if the goal of the new law is to educate parents about vaccination, it should simply state that all vaccine providers are legally required to give every parent Vaccine Information Statements (VIS) produced by the Centers for Disease Control, 24 which also contain information about reporting vaccine reactions and the federal vaccine injury compensation program.
Protect Your Rights. Take Action TODAY!
If you are a Washington State resident and do not want to lose your right to file a religious or personal belief exemption to vaccination without getting the signature of a doctor or nurse, you need take action TODAY.
Sign up for NVIC's Advocacy Portal and learn how to take action and make your voice heard. No matter what state you live in, please join forces now with the oldest, largest, and most experienced vaccine safety and informed consent organization, the non-profit National Vaccine Information Center, 25, 26 and fight for your freedom to make voluntary vaccine choices in America.
If it can happen in Washington state, it can happen in your state. Defend your informed consent rights.
Please forward the public service announcement linked to the end of this commentary to everyone you know about how to join NVIC's Advocacy Portal.
It's your health. Your family. Your choice.
Click here to watch NVIC's Advocacy Portal Public Service Announcement.
- 1 Washington State Legislature. House Bill 1015 and Senate Bill
- 2 The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 (PL 99-660). Subpart C - Assuring a Safer Childhood Vaccination Program in the United States (300 aa 25-28): Recording and reporting of information; vaccine information; mandate for safer childhood vaccines; manufacturer recordkeeping and reporting.
- 3 Washington State House of Representatives, Office of Program Research. Bill Analysis (HB1015) Health Care & Wellness Committee. January 11, 2011.
- 4 Washington State Vaccine Requirements.
- 5 United States Constitution, First Amendment.
- 6 Flanagan-Klygis EA, Sharp L, Frader JE. Dismissing the Family Who Refuses Vaccines. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2005; 159:929-934
- 7 University of Washington School of Medicine. Ethics in Medicine: Informed Consent.
- 8 Doyal L. Good clinical practice and informed consent are inseparable. Heart 2002; 87(2): 103-105.
- 9 Encyclopedia of Virginia. Buck v. Bell (1927).
- 10 Seidelman WE. Nuremberg lamentation: for the forgotten victims of medical science. British Medical Journal 1996; 313: 1463-7.
- 11 Annas GJ. Globalization of Clinical Trials and Informed Consent. N Eng J Med 2009; 360:2050-2053.
- 12 ACLU. 2009. NYCLU Urges Public Education and Voluntary Vaccine for H1N1 Flu, Warns Vaccine Mandate Violates Privacy Rights. Testimony by Donna Lieberman
- 13 Offit, P. Mandating Influenza Vaccine: One Hospital's Experience. Medscape 2010.
- 14 Sullivan PL. 2010. Influenza Vaccination in HealthCare Workers: Should It Be Mandatory? Journal of Issues in Nursing.
- 15 Evans G, Bostrom A, Johnston RB, Fisher BL, Stoto MA, editors. Risk Communication and Vaccination: Summary of a Workshop. Institute of Medicine, National Academies Press 1997.
- 16 U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Statistics Report (January 3, 2011).
- 17 Waldenbuerg WS, Wallace SE. When Science is Silent: Examining Compensation of Vaccine-Related Injuries When Scientific Evidence of Causation is Inconclusive. Wake Forest Law Review 2007; 42: 303-331.
- 18 Poling J, Poling T. Letters: Vaccines, Autism and Our Daughter, Hannah. New York Times April 15, 2008.
- 19 U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Vaccine Injury Table.
- 20 See Reference #1
- 21 National Vaccine Information Center. National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.
- 22 MedAlerts.org: Online Access to the U.S. Government's VAERS Data
- 23 U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS).
- 24 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control: Vaccine Information Statements.
- 25 National Vaccine Information Center. About Us.
- 26 In the U.S. Supreme Court of the United States: Bruesewitz v. Wyeth-Lederle Vaccines and Lederle Laboratories. Petition of Amici Curiae National Vaccine Information Center, it's co-founders and 11 other organizations in support of Petitioners.
Non-medical vaccine exemptions are under serious attack in Washington state and it is really important for Washington residents, who want to protect the religious and personal belief exemptions, to IMMEDIATELY contact their state representative and senator.
Legislators in other states may soon try to do what those in Washington state are trying to do torestrict your right to make vaccine choices. Sign up for NVIC's Advocacy Portal today and get access to your state legislators with one click. We need to all get involved and protect our informed consent rights in America. Act now!