Home > Get Involved, In the News > Protect Vermont’s School Children from Vaccine Preventable Diseases

Protect Vermont’s School Children from Vaccine Preventable Diseases

February 17, 2012

Calling All Vermont Families!! – A bill has been introduced in your Legislature that will remove the clause that allows parents to casually check off “philosophical exemptions” as a reason for waiving school vaccination requirements for children in public schools.

If you are from the state of Vermont, we Imageurge you to write to your Senator today to ask that he/she support this important bill (Senate Bill 199 or SB199).  Below is a letter sent yesterday on behalf of Every Child By Two.  Many of our partner organizations have also sent letters to express their support for this important change.  Feel free to borrow from the letter below to create your own letter.  You can also call and leave a message in support of SB199 with Senator Claire Ayer who serves as the chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare at (802) 545-2142

Please also take a moment to add your signature to our petition at Change.org

You can also send your own letter to your Vermont State Senators by using this template

February 17, 2012

Vermont State Legislature

Vermont State House

Montpelier, VT 05633

Dear Senators,

On behalf of Every Child By Two, I urge you to support Senate Bill 199 as written, which will eliminate the option of requesting a waiver from vaccination mandates for school entry based on a “philosophical exemption”. Every Child By Two (ECBT) strongly supports laws mandating vaccination coverage of school children, secure in the fact that these requirements reduce the spread of deadly, preventable diseases.  The founders of ECBT, Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter and Former First Lady of Arkansas Betty Bumpers have been credited with helping to pass the laws in every state mandating vaccination for school children.  These laws, enacted in the 1980s, have resulted in the reduction of disease transmission in schools nationwide.

Sadly, a 1989–1991 measles outbreak swept the nation infecting over 55,000 people, causing over 11,000 hospitalizations and claiming the lives of 123 individuals, most of whom were young children and infants.  Carter and Bumpers understood that while immunization rates of kindergarten-aged children had reached an all time high by the time of the outbreak, families were under the impression that they could wait until their children were of school-age to fully vaccinate them, a mistake that cost the lives of too many young children.  They officially formed ECBT in 1991 with the goal of ensuring the timely immunization of every child by the age of two.  These women have spent the past two decades visiting every state in the nation (most more than once) to enlist the support of elected officials and encourage the development of local coalitions dedicated to improving childhood immunization rates.

We applaud Vermont’s consideration of the removal of “philosophical exemption” options from school vaccine mandates as it will help protect vulnerable children from deadly diseases. As an organization that has witnessed the devastating effects of vaccine-preventable diseases on infants and children, we urge you to maintain the strictest vaccination compliance levels for school entry.  Vermont is the only state in the New England Region that permits the use of philosophical exemptions.

Vaccines have been hailed as one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century, saving millions of lives.  Experts worldwide have concluded that vaccines continue to remain safe and effective.  Recent outbreaks of measles and whooping cough are examples of how rapidly vaccine-preventable diseases can spread to unprotected individuals.  An excellent study printed in the Journal of the American Medical Association (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11135778) shows that children exempt from vaccines were 22.2 times more likely to acquire measles and 5.9 times more likely to acquire pertussis than were vaccinated children. The study also indicates that schools with pertussis outbreaks had more vaccine exemptors than schools without outbreaks, and that at least 11% of vaccinated children who contracted measles despite being vaccinated during a measles outbreak acquired the infection through contact with a child who was not vaccinated and had an exemption on file. Measles is an extremely contagious disease which will infect 90% of those not fully vaccinated during an outbreak.

Infants who contract pertussis acquire the disease 70 to 85% of the time through unvaccinated family members including school-age siblings.  In addition, the first dose of the DTaP vaccine that can protect a child from this disease is not administered until the child reaches 2 months of age and the infant is not fully protected until they have completed the full 4-dose series of this vaccine between the ages of 12 to 18 months.  This means that for the first two months of a child’s life, they are completely unprotected and fully dependent on those around them being vaccinated against the disease to “cocoon” them from the illness. The recent increase in reported whooping cough cases in Vermont may be a harbinger of falling immunization rates.

Please take into consideration the rights of vulnerable infants and immune-compromised individuals who depend on the protection afforded through those around them being vaccinated. This is a concept called “herd immunity”.  As many of ECBT’s family spokespersons are sadly aware, infants are not protected until they have completed the full series of immunizations.  Many of these families have lost their children because they had yet to complete the full series of vaccines, or because the child’s immune system was compromised and therefore unable to build up immunity normally provided from the vaccine. While vaccines are not 100% effective, families should feel confident in knowing that when they enroll their children in kindergarten or daycare, they are surrounded by a high percentage of vaccinated peers and school personnel thereby allowing  herd immunity to be the final barrier to deadly diseases.

We urge you to uphold the language contained within SB 199, thereby protecting the health and well-being of all school children throughout Vermont.  For more information on the diseases prevented by timely vaccinations we welcome you to our websites – www.VaccinateYourBaby.org and www.ecbt.org.  We have included an open letter signed by dozens of medical organizations, nonprofits and individuals in support of the safety and critical importance of timely vaccinations.

Most Sincerely,

[Your Name]

cayer@leg.state.vt.us
hgiard@leg.state.vt.us
rhartwell@leg.state.vt.us
rsears@leg.state.vt.us
jbenning@leg.state.vt.us
jkitchel@leg.state.vt.us
tashe@leg.state.vt.us
pbaruth@leg.state.vt.us
sfox@leg.state.vt.us
vlyons@leg.state.vt.us
hmiller@leg.state.vt.us
dsnelling@leg.state.vt.us
villuzzi@leg.state.vt.us
rbrock@leg.state.vt.us
skittell@leg.state.vt.us
mmacdonald@leg.state.vt.us
bcarris@leg.state.vt.us
pflory@leg.state.vt.us
acummings@leg.state.vt.us
wdoyle@leg.state.vt.us
apollina@leg.state.vt.us
pgalbraith@leg.state.vt.us
jwhite@leg.state.vt.us
jcampbell@leg.state.vt.us
rmccormack@leg.state.vt.us
anitka@leg.state.vt.us
  1. February 17, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    This is fantastic. Great post.

  2. February 17, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    Here’s hoping this bill does not pass. Parents have the right to decide for their kids. Rights and privileges are being taken away. I pray this bill does not pass.

  3. February 17, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    Parents do have the right to decide, Steve, whether there are philosophical exemptions or not. The state cannot and should not force you to vaccinate your child. However, the state can and should refuse admission to schools if you refuse to vaccinate your child.

  4. Michael Simpson
    February 17, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    Steve, once you and your kids are sucking at the breast of the state government, who funds local school, you MUST follow it’s laws and regulations. The building and creation of schools by the state is your right and privilege. Doing whatever you want with your kids to attend the school is not.

    And pray all you want. Lucky for us, the lack of anyone listening will not help you.

    Oh, by the way, if your kids happen to get injured or die from a lack of vaccination, I hope the State of Vermont arrests you for depraved indifference to human life.

  5. Chris
    February 17, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    He and his friends can always start a school just for those who choose to ignore public health policies.

  6. February 18, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    What a lovely cesspit of disease that would be. ;(

  7. kol
    February 19, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    And what about all the families that send their kids to school without breakfast or without their homework completed or worse having been physically or emotionally abused? How about we worry about these types of family choices first! Most parents that choose not to vaccinate are in general, educated citizens, very well read on the subject of vaccines, and don’t take the decision to not vaccinate as lightly as simply checking a box.

    By the way, if any of you have read the exemption form, it’s just as easy to check the religion box as it is the philosophical exemption. If my right to choice is taken away, I have no qualms about checking a different box to ensure that my children are safe.

  8. February 19, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    Kol, in my experience, anti-vaxxing parents are not at all “very well-read” in the area of vaccines. They generally get their information from Google, biased anti-vax sites, and snake-oil salesmen who stand to benefit from convincing people that vaccines are not a good choice. Few have ever read or critiqued a peer-reviewed scientific paper. This becomes clear every time they are asked for scientific evidence to support their position and they are unable to do so.

    We get that anti-vaxxers will abuse the religious freedoms upon which this country was built. Public health practitioners are considering that, and you should consider that the separation of church and state works both ways. I have absolutely no problem with you refusing to vaccinate your spawn. I also have no problem with schools saying that they can’t attend. You have no right to force your religious beliefs on anyone else.

  9. Michael Simpson
    February 19, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    I’m not paying for that. And the school has to purchase a health insurance policy to cover all costs of health care to students and anyone who is infected by those students. I’m also not paying for that.

  10. Chris
    February 19, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    If my right to choice is taken away, I have no qualms about checking a different box to ensure that my children are safe.

    Then you have no reason to complain if your children without any protection from many diseases are asked to stay home for several weeks if there is an outbreak of a vaccine preventable disease. It is after all a measure to keep your child safe.

    Though I don’t understand why you would think the MMR vaccine is more dangerous than measles or mumps. Measles is a nasty disease that even if a child does not become permanently disabled, it seems evil to make a child suffer that much. Mumps was once the primary cause of post-lingual deafness. But you educated yourself, and it seems a risk that you deem acceptable for your children.

  11. Chris
    February 19, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    Well, of course it would be a private school. Many like them do exist, most often they include the word “Waldorf” in their name.

  12. Lawrence
    February 20, 2012 at 9:33 am

    Vaccines are one of the main reasons why Gallaudet University is suffering from (and has suffered) a severe drop in enrollment over the past two decades. Once the MMR vaccine was rolled out, incidence of childhood deafness was reduced dramatically.

  13. Dan
    February 20, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Where are your peer reviewed scientific papers that prove that “herds” of vaccinated “spawns” are in better health and cost less in medical care than the non vaccinated? That’s what this is all about after all? That the vaccinated have no long term effects from vaccines’ proven toxic ingredients? Until those studies are made, there should be one more exemption added to the existing ones: the scientific exemption.

  14. Chris
    February 20, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    And the Hib vaccine.

  15. Chris
    February 20, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Here is this one: Vaccination Status and Health in Children and Adolescents. Plus there are several studies from the Vaccine Safety Link. Those include:

    Pediatrics. 2001 Dec;108(6):E112
    Childhood vaccinations, vaccination timing, and risk of type 1 diabetes mellitus.

    Vaccine. 2011 Nov 12.
    Lack of association between childhood immunizations and encephalitis in California, 1998-2008.

    Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2006 Sep;25(9):768-73.
    Encephalopathy after whole-cell pertussis or measles vaccination: lack of evidence for a causal association in a retrospective case-control study.

    Then there are studies like:

    Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2005 Dec;159(12):1136-44.
    Economic evaluation of the 7-vaccine routine childhood immunization schedule in the United States, 2001.

    J Infect Dis. 2004 May 1;189 Suppl 1:S131-45.
    An economic analysis of the current universal 2-dose measles-mumps-rubella vaccination program in the United States.

    Pediatrics. 2002 Oct;110(4):653-61.
    Impact of universal Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccination starting at 2 months of age in the United States: an economic analysis.

    Vaccine. 1998 May-Jun;16(9-10):989-96.
    A benefit-cost analysis of two-dose measles immunization in Canada.

    I you are unsatisfied with those studies then get the folks at SafeMinds, Autism Trust, Generation Rescue, NVIC and the like to pay for the study you would prefer.

  16. Richids
    February 20, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    This is why personal freedoms are under threat in Vermont, which I believe is in the top 5, if not #1, for healthiest children in the USA.

  17. Kelly
    February 20, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Absolutely Dan. You provide the science for “vaccines’ proven toxic ingredients” and then perhaps scientists will have reason to look at the long term effects.

    Fact of the matter is that the concentration of ingredients in vaccines makes the ingredients not toxic.

    I’d love to see what you have to support a scientific exemption. So far I’ve only seen vaccine refusers come up with excuses based on misinformation, misconception (like thinking vaccine ingredients are toxic) and logical fallacy.

  18. Chris
    February 20, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Thank you for showing us that website. It is hilarious!

  19. Dan
    February 20, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    from Chris,
    «I[f] you are unsatisfied with those studies then get the folks at SafeMinds, Autism Trust, Generation Rescue, NVIC and the like to pay for the study you would prefer.»

    If I understand correctly, if the guinea pigs aren’t satisfied, they should pay for their own damn long term safety studies?

    All you can find to answer this fundamental question is one German *survey* of less than 15 000 subjects? After a century of vaccinations and hundred of millions if not billions of doses administered? All this while 21st century immunology discovers something new about the immune system every week?

    The other studies you cite are limited in scope and assess only very tiny portions of the extremely complex biological puzzle that has been created by the exponentially growing schedule of mandated vaccines and their more than five dozen ingredients most of which have never been tested for long term toxicity, carcinogenicity or mutagenicity isolatedly, much less combined.

    Of course it costs less to administer a measles or pertussis vaccine than to treat their complications when you make total abstraction to the adverse effects of vaccines and assume without proof that they do not exist, like the medical authorities now do, except of course for that mythical “one in a million”. All these studies put together don’t even come close to answer the basic question I (and so many others) ask. If the health authorities were really interested in people’s health and vaccination safety, there should have already been at least one large clinical study, following vaccinated and non vaccinated subjects for decades on to compare their overall health and incidence of other conditions than VPDs.

    The scientific litterature is littered with studies that show some of vaccines’ ingredients to be individually toxic to the neurological and/or immune systems or the basic living cell. But once they are in a vial written vaccine on it they are all supposed to become magically safe for everyone, including premature infants? “The poison is in the dose” becomes the argument that is supposed to settle this extremely complex issue, even when no peer-reviewed study has established the safe doses of this toxic cocktail.

    If we have traded measles, pertussis, and chicken pox for SIDS, developmental, neurological and chronic immune disorders, your above cited costs analysis become all instantly useless.

  20. Chris
    February 20, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    If I understand correctly, if the guinea pigs aren’t satisfied, they should pay for their own damn long term safety studies?

    Interesting term you use for your children. I meant the people who have decided that the scientific consensus is not satisfactory, like you. If you do not like what the studies say, or how they are done: then do them yourself with your own money. I would rather my tax dollars go towards the services my son needs, not to satisfy the some notion based on illiteracy in the scientific process.

    SafeMinds has already funded some studies, and members of their board have helped design studies. So there is precedence. Except, when the results don’t go their way, they have been known to throw hissy fits:

    Sour grapes, anyone? Ms. Bernard was a consultant on this study and helped contribute to its design! She apparently didn’t like the results that it was producing and decided to drop out and start criticizing it–even jumping the gun on the 5 PM embargo yesterday to do so!

    Now go and design the study you want done. Get it approved by an Independent Review Board, write the grants to get it funded and then go do it. Don’t complain to us, especially after I answered you question with real science. If you want something done right, do it yourself.

    Oh, and answer Kelly’s question with what we recognize as real science.

  21. February 20, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    “If we have traded measles, pertussis, and chicken pox for SIDS, developmental, neurological and chronic immune disorders, your above cited costs analysis become all instantly useless.”

    There is not one shred of legitimate epidemiological evidence that vaccines cause SIDS, developmental, neurological, or chronic immune disorders. In fact, vaccination has been associated with reduced risk for some of these conditions.

    It’s always a joy when some punter decides that he or she has designed the ultimate vaxxed vs. unvaxxed study. As Chris said, if you’ve got it all figured out, write the grant and get the funding. Should be a piece of cake, right?

  22. February 21, 2012 at 12:45 am

    “If the health authorities were really interested in people’s health and vaccination safety, there should have already been at least one large clinical study, following vaccinated and non vaccinated subjects for decades on to compare their overall health and incidence of other conditions than VPDs. ”

    So, you are proposing that you give several thousand children vaccines, several thousand others shots with no vaccines, and watch them over decades. Obviously in order to satisfy what I can only call your blood lust, you’d have to have many thousands of each. And we know precisely what you would say when the study found your position untenable. To wit, that there were no control of who was exposed to VPDs. Thus what you really want are thousands of children given fake vaccines and then exposed to deadly diseases. I seriously don’t understand how we can call this sort of desire anything but a desire to see more children die.

  23. Chris
    February 21, 2012 at 1:56 am

    Or you can just do what the person, Stephanie Herman, who created that unreferenced diagram does: homeschool. She is the full libertarian and chooses to be free by educating her children herself.

    If you are going to defy public health measures, then do it in your own home.

  24. Lawrence
    February 21, 2012 at 6:35 am

    Because that worked so well for the Tuskegee Study…….there are reasons these types of studies aren’t done, are considered, unethical, etc.

    Of course, since the anti-vax crowd considers vaccines to be ineffective & childhood diseases to be “not that bad” they don’t see a problem with it.

  25. Chris
    February 21, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Well I did say he had to get it approved by an IRB.

  26. February 22, 2012 at 8:14 am

    More astounding than simple calls for this type of study, though, is the assertion that all of the data we have on vaccines must be thrown out until such a study is done. Its like saying that since I used surveying techniques to measure the distance between LA and New York, we have to ignore that data until I can make the trip with my GPS.

    One type of data MIGHT be preferable to the other, but that doesn’t mean that the other is completely invalid or unreliable.

  27. February 22, 2012 at 10:44 am

    @Lawrence – curious about your comment regarding Gallaudet University – do you have an affiliation with the University? I received my graduate degree from GU in hopes of working with deaf children…what an irony that my life-path led me to working to promote vaccination of children for the past 18 years…could it be that I couldn’t find work in the deaf arena b/c there are fewer and fewer children with deafness due to vaccines? You betcha!

  28. Lawrence
    March 5, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    @amy – I’ve worked with the University in the past, but not in the past several years. Between vaccines and cochlar implants, there has been a huge decrease in the overall deaf population in this country.

  29. GreenState
    April 7, 2012 at 8:26 am

    Great graphic. What a lovely revolving door we’ve allowed between our Government & a for-profit industry!

  30. May 8, 2014 at 1:11 am

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