California is currently debating a law to remove the personal/religious belief exemption from their vaccination requirements to attend public school with State Bill 277. As you’d imagine this has caused a dramatic reaction from anti-vaccination groups.
Intended and proposed as a way to protect the children in schools without being an individual mandate, anti-vaxxers had a field day when they found that the new language, applied to California’s byzantine health and education laws would affect homeschooled children as well.
Of course, what’s the penalty under the law for failing to vaccinate your child? They would have to stay home from school. Not exactly the vaccine police running around, needling innocent organic children. Clearly this is not much of a threat to a home schooling family. But nonetheless, it’s a confusing contradiction, and the authors of the bill are attempting to remedy it through the legislative process. As early as April 15th, we may see that new language exempting homeschooled children.
The bill’s current language has provoked a strong and vocal reaction from the anti-vaccinationists, and the bill is far from being passed at this point. Grassroots groups like Vaccinate California have rallied support but still need donations, volunteers, and for Californians to call their representatives to voice support for the bill.
Australia has always had a strong pro-vaccine stance, and recently had to contend with a new level of subterfuge that highlights the need to eliminate all non-medical exemptions. In that country, there still remained a religious objection clause to the vaccine mandate so, perhaps unwittingly appropriate given the basis of their beliefs, the anti-vaccinationists formed a church. The Church of Conscious Living has an almost comically simple belief system.
- Where possible, consuming organically grown and minimally processed foods and beverages. Choose cosmetic and household consumables produced from environmentally safe, nature formed substances.
- The rejection of orthodox vaccination, for both adults, children and animals.
- To use wholistic and nature based medicines and practitioners for both prevention and treatment of dis-ease. The consumption, inhalation or injection of synthetic drugs, both legal and illegal to be avoided.
- What you think creates your reality. We are responsible for our thoughts and our response to what happens in our life. What you feel and action towards another is always a reflection of yourself – compassion and love is our primary state of being.
But membership and a willful disregard for science is now all it takes in Australia to circumvent public health policy.
Vaccines carry risks. We all know that. I don’t think there is a substance you could administer on this scale without having some kind of side effect in some people. However, the risk (as we are able to measure it) is low, literally 1 in a million. I (and every CDC immunologist) would love it if we could get that down to zero. That might be an impossible task. But it doesn’t mean that in the here and now that we should forgo protection against the very real dangers of disease. We’re often told by the pro-disease camp that hygiene and modern medical treatment would effectively eliminate any risk from a resurgence of say measles. That we would treat the sick and all would be well. But clearly they have not thought this scenario through, because hospitals burdened with the mass influx of communicable patients would not be able to give the same outcomes as the relatively small outbreaks we have seen so far.
I’ve personally struggled on this issue. On the one hand, I support personal freedoms, and am wary to expand government authority to include forced injections of any kind. On the other, I know how safe vaccines are, and how potentially devastating vaccine-preventable disease is. In the end, when I look at the specifics of this bill, I don’t see new powers; I don’t see encroachment on personal freedoms. If you don’t want to vaccinate your child, you’ll need to make other arrangements to educate them.
In all likelihood you expose yourself to far more risk of injury driving to school than you do taking the vaccine required to be there, so perhaps homeschooling is the perfect alternative for these fallaciously risk-averse parents.
Featured Image used and modified under Creative Commons.