An Open Letter to Legislators In Support of House Bills 4425 and 4426
I am speaking for the thousands of families across Michigan negatively affected by these 2014 regulations. We are not anti-vaccine, we are pro parental choice and we are strongly supportive of this legislation.
We have had serious issues with the forced education appointments, aimed at challenging our medical decisions for our children, whether philosophical or religious.
We have serious issues with being forced to sign an inflammatory and incriminating waiver form, which implies we are making a decision that may harm our children or the community at large. These forms are required to be signed by parents, and cannot be altered, even though they disagree with the content, a direct violation of our right to freedom of speech. Parents sign under duress in order that their children may attend school, which is their right under the State Constitution.
We expect and respect honesty, and transparency, especially in our state agencies. The education, purportedly provided by county health departments does NOT provide balanced information, leaving out information on the risks of vaccination, which violates the principles of informed consent.
Children with immunization waivers are often characterized as a threat to the health of other children and the population at large. It is totally disingenuous to characterize them that way. If you miss one vaccine, one dose of a vaccine or you delay receiving a vaccine on the schedule provided by the State you are required to get a waiver. If you have actual immunity, i.e. you have had the chicken pox, and don’t need the vaccine, you need a waiver. Less than 1% of our children in this state receive no vaccines. Waivers do not tell you anything about vaccination status.
Waiver rates were around 2-3% before 2010, the year that MDHHS added 3 new vaccines to the list of mandated vaccines – that caused the waiver rates to shoot up to over 10% in that year. MDHHS has pointed to this as a problem, when it is not, and in fact, was caused solely by their own change in the required vaccines.
Waivers declined after 2010, once the implementation and awareness of these new mandates became known by pediatricians and parents.
The year before these regulations went into effect there was a 24% decrease in waivers, about 5000 fewer – without parents being ‘educated’ by the State.
You should also know that even when waiver rates were 10% in 2010, according to CDC data we had over 95% vaccination coverage for most standard diseases (Measles, pertussis, etc). There was hardly a problem that required such a radical change.
Keep something else in mind today when you hear about Michigan’s ‘ranking’ compared to other states: Michigan has very stringent vaccine requirements compared to other states. For example, some states do not require pertussis (PA), some require less than 5 doses of DTaP (IL, VA, WI), some states don’t require Hepatitis B (AL, MT, SD), some states only require 1 varicella (OR) some don’t require varicella at all (OK). 23 other states do not mandate a meningitis vaccine. Michigan requires all of these vaccines.
Michigan has a population of approximately 10 million; 1.5 million are students. About 500,000 incidents of communicable disease are reported to the health department every year.
Vaccine-targeted illnesses account for only 0.4% of these diseases, and less than 0.1% of children are affected by them.
Many of the vaccine-targeted illnesses occur in vaccinated children and adults. That is especially true of whooping cough and chickenpox. For example, 70% of whooping cough cases in this state occur in vaccinated individuals. Please understand that being vaccinated does not mean you are immune from getting the vaccine-targeted disease, and being unvaccinated for the disease does not mean you will spread or contract the disease.
Information provided by MDHHS about outbreaks and diseases that occur in Michigan often don’t give the full story. Information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act has shown the following:
The Traverse City outbreak of whooping cough in 2014 was publicly blamed on unvaccinated children in schools and high waiver rates. Yet, health department data shows that 83% of the children who contracted Pertussis WERE vaccinated, many receiving the series within the last year, and the first person to experience the symptoms of the disease WAS vaccinated.
There was no mention of the outbreak in Allegan County in November of 2014 where there were over 20 cases of children with whooping cough. Every single child had been vaccinated with a minimum of 5 doses of DTaP vaccine. In addition, the Allegan county waiver rate that year was very low at 1.8%. This clearly demonstrates once again the false impression given by MDHHS that high waiver rates mean greater risk and rates of disease. There is in fact no correlation between the incidence of high waiver rates and high rates of vaccine targeted disease.
In my opinion these regulations have little to do with controlling disease and were a solution in search of a problem. They are punitive in nature and they deny children and parents the rights they are entitled to by law. They create unnecessary hurdles for parents to exercise their statutory rights.
MDHHS changed state law through a flawed rule making process because they knew they could never get it through the legislature. Last time I looked, it was legislators that legislated our laws, not government bureaucracies. Please support House Bills 4425 and 4426.