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Changes Needed for US Vaccine Policy to Protect Human and Civil Rights

June 10, 2014

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Story at-a-glance

  • It is a human right to exercise voluntary, informed consent to medical risk taking, including taking risks with pharmaceutical products like vaccines
  • In America, parents of minor children have the legal right and responsibility to make medical risk decisions for their children
  • In America today, some citizens are being discriminated against and persecuted for following their conscience and making vaccine choices that do not conform with federal health policy
  • In May, the Colorado legislature became the first to vote to preserve the personal belief exemption to vaccination without modification
  • A pro-education, pro-vaccine choice message sponsored by the National Vaccine Information Center will be featured in New York City through mid-July

By Barbara Loe Fisher

No matter who you are or where you live, it is difficult to be part of a minority. It takes courage to follow your conscience. It takes courage to stand up and speak out for what you know is right when you are being targeted and sanctioned by those who claim it is their right to bully and shun you for who you are or what you believe.

This is especially true for those speaking out and standing up for the right to make informed, voluntary choices about using vaccines, a pharmaceutical product that carries a risk of harm and failure that can be greater for some than others.1, 2, 3

Informed Consent to Medical Risk-Taking: A Human Right

The freedom to make voluntary decisions about what you are willing to risk your life or the life of your child for is a human and civil right.

It is a human right to exercise voluntary, informed consent to medical risk taking,4, 5, 6 including taking risks with pharmaceutical products like vaccines. In America, parents of minor children have the legal right and responsibility to make medical risk decisions for their children.7, 8, 9

Freedom of Thought, Speech, and Belief: A Civil Right

Under the US Constitution, Americans are guaranteed the civil right to exercise freedom of thought, speech, and belief.10, 11, 12 The right to dissent and petition the government for redress of grievances and hold beliefs that may differ from ones held by the majority is protected because our nation’s founders understood that minorities must be protected from oppression by the majority.13

Targeted, Bullied, Shunned, and Sanctioned

In America today, some citizens are being discriminated against and persecuted for following their conscience and making vaccine choices that do not conform with federal health policy.

They are being targeted, bullied, shunned, and sanctioned.14, 15, Doctors16 and politically powerful special interest groups17, 18, 19, 20 associated with private drug companies21 and medical trade associations22 have joined with government health officials23, 24 and lobbying state legislators to eliminate or severely restrict the legal right to exercise informed consent to vaccine risk taking.25, 26, 27

Laws Passed Restricting Non-Medical Exemptions

In the past three years, laws have been passed in the states of Washington,28 California,29 and Oregon30 requiring parents filing non-medical exemptions to either undergo state mandated vaccine “education” or beg for signatures from pediatricians already refusing to provide medical care to children who do not get all 69 doses of 16 federally recommended vaccines right on schedule.31

Colorado Preserves Personal Belief Exemption

But this year in Colorado, concerned citizens turned out in force to publicly object to similar attempts by professional lobbyists to restrict vaccine informed consent rights.32 On May 2, 2014, the Colorado legislature became the first to vote to preserve the personal belief exemption to vaccination without modification.33

NVIC’s Pro-Vaccine Choice Message in Times Square

The same day that legislators in Colorado voted to affirm freedom of conscience in America, a pro-education, pro-vaccine choice message sponsored by the National Vaccine Information Center was up on the CBS Jumbotron in Times Square celebrating freedom of speech.34

The message is simple: “Vaccinations? Know the risks and failures: Your Health. Your Family. Your Choice.” That 24-hour message in the heart of Broadway on 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues in New York City is going to stay there through mid-July.

NVIC Publishes Vaccine Law Reform Guide

Today, the National Vaccine Information Center is launching a national campaign to secure vaccine safety and informed consent protections in state vaccine policies and laws.

We have published a fully referenced guide for legislators and the public called Reforming Vaccine Policy and Law and you can view or download it for free online on I wrote this guide and it is anchored with more than 240 references and explains in detail why laws should be passed in every state to maximize vaccine safety.

Additionally, it is for those choosing to use vaccines while protecting the legal right to get an education, hold a job, receive health insurance and medical care, enter a hospital or nursing home, and function in society without being forced to get every government recommended vaccine. These legal rights are important to preserve because, first, we are not all the same.36, 37 We do not all respond the same way to drugs or vaccines just like we do not all respond the same way to infectious diseases.38

High Vaccination Rates and Vaccine Failures

Public health officials admit that for more than 30 years, the US has had a 95 percent plus vaccination rate among children entering kindergarten for at least seven vaccines, including pertussis.39, 40 Now, public health officials admit that children and adults can be fully vaccinated and still get infected with and transmit B. pertussis whooping cough to others without even knowing it.41, 42 There have been recent reported outbreaks of mumps and measles among fully vaccinated children and adults and the influenza vaccine has a less than 60 percent rate of effectiveness in most years.43, 44, 45, 46, 47

Pharma Shielded from Civil Liability

At the same time, the federal government has paid out nearly $3 billion to victims of vaccine injury since Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986.48 That law banned most vaccine injury lawsuits against drug companies selling vaccines and doctors giving them49 and, in 2011, the US Supreme Court went one step further and gave vaccine manufacturers a complete product liability shield – even when vaccines could have been made safer!50

This sealed a cruel fate for the two out of three vaccine victims denied compensation under the federal vaccine injury compensation program.51 Now drug companies can fast track and market new vaccines52 that may be more reactive and less effective than they should be because there is no legal accountability for anyone who develops, regulates, markets, gives, and promotes vaccine use.

Individual Susceptibility = Unequal Vaccine Risk Burden

During the past three decades, the Institute of Medicine has published a series of reports pointing out the large gaps in vaccine safety science53, 54 confirming that some people are genetically, biologically, and environmentally more susceptible to suffering brain inflammation and other types of serious vaccine reactions but doctors often do not know who will be injured or die from vaccination.55, 56 It has become very clear that one-size-fits-all vaccine policies place a disproportionate and unequal risk burden on those more vulnerable to vaccine harm.57

Have you or your child already discovered you are a member of that vulnerable minority who is at increased risk for vaccine injury or do you have a relative or friend who is? If so, then you understand why a law that compels everyone to use a pharmaceutical product which carries an unpredictable and greater risk of injury or death for a minority of vulnerable individuals – most of whom do not even know who they are – is not humane. There is nothing moral or just about a government policy that facilitates a de facto selection of certain individuals for sacrifice in the name of the public health.

Every Life Is Important

Every life is important and it is time for all Americans to stand up, speak out and take action to defend our human and civil rights when it comes to vaccine risk taking. Join with NVIC and help us secure vaccine safety informing, reporting and informed consent provisions in all vaccine policies and laws to protect both those who choose to use every government recommended vaccine and those who don’t.

Please read the guide to Reforming Vaccine Policy and Law. Check out the referenced version and share it with your family, friends, community leaders and state legislators. Sign up to become a user of the free online NVIC Advocacy Portal that will inform you about vaccine legislation moving in your state.

What you choose to do, what we all choose to do right now will determine what kind of America we leave to our children and grandchildren. Because if the state can tag, track down, and force individuals against their will to be injected with biological products of known and unknown toxicity today, there will be no limit on which individual freedoms the state can take away in the name of the greater good tomorrow. It’s your health. Your family. Your choice.

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Sources and References

  • 1 DPT Vaccine & Chronic Nervous System Dysfunction: A New Analysis. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press 1994
  • 2 Institute of Medicine Committee to Review Adverse Effects of Vaccines. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press 2012
  • 3 Department of Health & Human Services. Health Resources Services Administration. Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Statistics Report
  • 4 Nir E. Informed Consent. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Sept. 21, 2011
  • 5 Grodin MA, Annas GJ. Legacies of Nuremberg – Medical Ethics and Human Rights. JAMA 1996; 276(20): 1682-1683
  • 6 Council of Europe. Apr. 4, 1997
  • 7 Klicka CJ. Home School Legal Defense Association Oct. 27, 2003
  • 8 State of Texas. Family Code: Chapter 151 - Rights and Duties in Parent-Child Relationship. Sept. 1, 2007
  • 9 Diekema DS. Ethics in Medicine: Parental Decision Making. University of Washington School of Medicine 2014
  • 10 American Library Association. First Amendment of the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution
  • 11 The Free Dictionary. Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution. West’s Encyclopedia of American Law 2008
  • 12 Erler EJ. The Fourteenth Amendment and the Protection of Minority Rights. Brigham Young University Law Review 1987
  • 13 Bill of Rights Institute. Majority Rule versus Minority Rights
  • 14 Cry for Vaccine Freedom Wall
  • 15 The Inquisitor. Parents Blackmailed by Doctor: Consent to Vaccine or We Take Your Newborn. Mar. 28, 2014
  • 16 Fagone J. Will This Doctor Hurt Your Baby? Philadelphia Magazine May 27, 2009
  • 17 Attkisson S. How Independent Are Vaccine Defenders? CBS News July 26, 2008
  • 18 Every Child by Two (ECBT). Daycare Center and School Immunization Mandates: A Position Statement of Every Child by Two. Dec. 5, 2012
  • 19 Schneider S. Big Pharma’s faking a “grass roots” campaign to keep Jenny McCarthy off “The View.” News from Underground Aug. 1, 2013
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  • 21 Associated Press/Fox News. Merck Lobbies for HPV Vaccine to Become Law. Jan. 30, 2007
  • 22 American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). AAFP News May 4, 2011
  • 23 Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO). Immunization Resource Guide. 2013
  • 24 Association of Immunization Managers (AIM). Position Statement on Personal Belief Exemptions from State Vaccination Mandates. Jan. 21, 2014
  • 25 Fisher BL. Americans Fight for Vaccine Choices: Philosophical Exemption to Vaccination Saved in Vermont. NVIC Newsletter May 14, 2012
  • 26 KQED (NPR) Radio. New Efforts Put Pressure on Parents to Vaccinate Kids. Forum with Michael Krasny Aug. 22, 2013
  • 27 Bryson D, McKay B. States Weigh Tougher Rules for Allowing Exemptions. Wall Street Journal Jan. 5, 2014.
  • 28 Fisher BL. Washington State Vaccine Law Threatens Exemptions and Violates Privacy. NVIC Newsletter Feb. 13, 2011
  • 29 Richardson D. Testimony Opposing California AB2109 on behalf of NVIC. June 20, 2012
  • 30 Gray CD. Senate Passes Bill to Restrict Vaccine Exemptions. The Lund Report June 7, 2013
  • 31 Wang S. More Doctors ‘Fire’ Vaccine Refusers. Wall Street Journal Feb. 15, 2012
  • 32 NVIC Newsletter Mar. 20, 2014
  • 33 Colorado Legislators Protect Personal Belief Exemption But Vaccine Bill Still Opens Door for Harassment. NVIC Newsletter May 6, 2014
  • 34 NVIC Know the Risks Education Campaign. NY Times Square. May 2014
  • 35 Reforming Vaccine Policy & Law: A Guide. NVIC. May 2014
  • 36 Scheibel AB. Embryological Development of the Human Brain. Johns Hopkins School of Medicine 1997
  • 37 Morgan XC, Segata N, Huttenhower C. Biodiversity and Functional Genomics. Trends in Genetics 2013; 29(1): 51-58
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  • 40 CDC. Vaccination Rates Among Children in Kindergarten – United States, 2012-2013 School Year. MMWR Aug. 2, 2013; 62(30): 607-612
  • 41 Witt MA, Katz PH, Witt DJ. Clin Infect Dis 2012; 54(12): 1730-1735
  • 42 Food and Drug Administration. FDA Press Release: Nov. 27, 2013
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  • 45 CCTV News. Measles among vaccinated kids raises questions. The Canadian Press Oct. 20, 2011.
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  • 48 Health Resources Services Administration. Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Statistics Report
  • 49 Supreme Court of the United States. No. 09-152. June 1, 2010
  • 50 Supreme Court of the United States. Bruesewitz v. Wyeth. Feb. 11, 2011
  • 51 Health Resources Services Administration. Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Statistics Report
  • 52 NVIC Press Release June 27, 2006
  • 53 Institute of Medicine Vaccine Safety Committee. Adverse Effects of Pertussis and Rubella Vaccines: Washington, DC. The National Academies Press. 1991
  • 54 Institute of Medicine Vaccine Safety Committee. Washington, DC. The National Academies Press. 1991
  • 55 Evaluating Biological Mechanisms of Adverse Events: Increased Susceptibility. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press 2012
  • 56 Conclusions About Scientific Findings and Review of Scientific Findings. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press 2013
  • 57 International Memorial for Vaccine Victims
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