I’m happy about a new pile of paperwork coming my way. To be clear, I’ve never said this before. But I’m serious. Instead of stewing controversy, I suspect a new bill around here could open up lines of communication. I’m not living under a rock; I understand that some feel this new bill requiring signatures for vaccine exemption is heavy handed. I wholeheartedly disagree.
Yesterday Governor Gregoire signed a new bill into law that will demand families talk with a health care worker about the risks when exempting from immunizations. It turns out, WA state lags in their vaccination rates compared to national averages. In the last 10 years there has been a doubling in the number of students with exemptions for vaccinations in our schools. The biggest reason may be a convenience factor. The state suggests that 95% of exemptions are not for a medical reason, but one for convenience. Seems like you’d never opt out of immunizations for convenience putting your child or another child at risk. Right? But then think about how nuts your life is, how chaotic it is to raise children, and work, and pay bills and and and….
Imagine this: you’re a busy mom/dad, your child is about to start Kindergarten or 6th grade. The records you have for their immunizations are incomplete. You didn’t keep the book and like me and everyone else, your paper work isn’t filed perfectly. You’re pretty sure your child is “up to date.” You’re standing at registration at the school. You’ve been waiting in line and your left heel hurts. Come to think of it, your head hurts, too. Your daughter just tugged on your pant leg; she’s hungry. Quickly, when you realize you’ve got an incomplete record, you call your daughter’s doctor office while still in line. No one picks up when you call and you’re put in a queue waiting to talk with someone in medical records. You have a choice, would you rather just sign your name, exempting your child from vaccines, or go on a hunt for the records to ensure your child truly is up to date? Sure, the answer for most any parent is clear.
You sign your name.
See? It doesn’t make any sense to have an exemption, with weighty consequences, be so easily misapplied. It puts our entire community at risk. And, a family may miss out on a chance to update immunization for their child. Further, during a break-out of chicken pox or measles or pertussis, the Dept of Health would have to contact your family and track down the records to know if you’re at risk or if others are at risk because of an un-immunized child. We know that un-immunized children are more likely to get and spread vaccine-preventable illness. It’s expensive to track inconsistent (exempted but immunized, exempted and not immunized) records down in an outbreak. And it’s becoming more common…
Washington State Realities About Vaccine Exemptions
Many children in our state rely on the community to be well immunized to stay healthy. Many suggest we need 90% of a community to be immunized to prevent an outbreak of illness. Studies show that children in schools with higher exemption rates (lower immunization rates, likely) have higher levels of disease. And as I said, we know un-immunized children are more likely to get and spread vaccine-preventable illnesses. We want to protect, or cocoon, our most vulnerable (young infants, patients with immune dysfunction, or those children on chemotherapy who can’t get vaccines). Maybe you’re one of the parents who didn’t want to opt-out, but out of convenience and/or pant-tugging-snack-needing-headache-relieving-necessity while in line, you did. In this case, if your child wasn’t truly up to date (immunization guidelines change yearly), there would be little incentive to go out of your way to ensure they received needed immunizations.
THIS convenience factor and need for “community immunity ” is the reason for the new bill. The bill isn’t about forcing or battling with families who are hesitant or opting-out of immunizations for religious reasons or for concerns about vaccine safety. This isn’t about selling vaccines. The bill works to counter families who opted out accidentally or out of convenience. The bill works to increase public education about vaccines. The bill works to get more children the immunizations they need. It’s to protect our community and our most vulnerable children. If families want to opt-out, they still can opt-out, but will have to have have a conversation with a health care worker prior. Think of this as an insurance plan for all children, demanding we all make choices with great intention rather than just convenience.
That’s where the pile of paperwork comes in. Physicians will now need to sign off on exemptions. I will happily sign these papers for families if they decide to opt-out or exempt from immunizations. But I’ll do so in person, in clinic, once we’ve discussed risks.
Take a peek at the above graphic showing exemption rates by percentile, by county. You can see, it certainly varies by county how many families choose to file for an exemption. Up until now, Washington state was one of 8 other states that required only a signature to opt-out.
This new bill allows parents to access information about vaccines from physicians and nurses, the people parents say they trust most on vaccine safety.
Some Statistics About Exemptions In The United States
The national average exemption rate is estimated to be less than 2% (that is 5 times lower than WA state currently). Thanks to WA State DOH for help with these numbers:
- Washington is 1 of 20 states allowing for philosophical exemptions.
- We are among a handful of state (8 total) that require parent signature only. All other states require some kind of effort to obtain philosophical or religious exemptions (e.g. notaries, writing out personal statements, direct involvement of public health, educational components, renewals).
- States allowing for the option of a philosophical exemption often have conditions.
- Of these 20 states, most have various conditions to getting a philosophical exemption above just a parent signature.
- 4 states require you write out your reasons for exempting (Maine, Michigan, Louisiana, Oklahoma)
- 4 states require the forms to be notarized (Minnesota, Texas, New Mexico, Arkansas)
- 3 states require some kind of educational component on risks/benefits of imms (Texas, Arizona, Arkansas)
- 3 states require direct involvement from the local or state health dept (Texas, Utah, Arkansas)
- 2 states require renewals (Maine is ever year, Texas is every 2 years)
Some of the more recent states “expanding” their laws to allow philosophical exemptions are the ones with the most conditions. For example, Texas “expanded” their laws in 2003, but requires 1) you request the state health department send you the form, 2) sign on the form that you’ve read and understand the attached immunization materials (supplied by the state dept), 3) have the form notarized, and 4) the form expires after 2 years – at which point you start all over if you want to continue the exemption.
So, here in Washington it is up to the family, in consultation with a health care worker, if they immunize their child. Families will first have access to health information about vaccines/immunization and the risks they incur, when exempting prior to entering school.
Your thoughts? Do you think this will help protect our communities? Do you suspect, like the state does, that vaccine exemptions will go down?
I’m concerned about what qualifies as a “health care worker.” There are a lot of “alternative” HCWs who are against vaccinations that would sign a such a form without any counseling regarding the benefits of vaccinations.
Read here about the law: https://www.doh.wa.gov/cfh/immunize/schools/exemption-FAQ.htm#require
Q: What kind of health care providers can sign the exemption form or write a letter?
A: Physicians (M.D.), physician assistants (P.A.), osteopaths (D.O.), naturopaths (N.D.), and advanced registered nurse practitioners (A.R.N.P.) who are currently licensed in Washington are authorized to sign the exemption form or write a letter. Signatures by registered nurses (R.N.) or licensed practical nurses (L.P.N.) are not acceptable.
Sara Husarik, CPNP says
I think it’s a great idea and I wholeheartedly support this bill. It’s time for this to happen in Washington. It is not about forcing families to immunize, but rather forcing families to take the time to be educated.
Vaccinate or not to vaccinate, sure it should be your personal choice not to vaccinate your child, if you wish, however, if your child SPREAD an outbreak of an illness or disease to other persons the parents of the un vaccinated child should be at fault and be sued just like a business who decides to let a worker work serving food while ill and cause a norovirus outbreak which injures inocent people. Or you can open up a sxhool for the children who aren’t immunized and they can pass on their germs to each others. We have had immunizations for more than 60 years and are happy to have five genration of healthy intelligent kids. I have a brother who is 69 with no health conditions.. Thank you for your input.
Jen B says
Thank you!! I can’t count the number of families who did this when I was a school nurse. And then when there was a mumps outbreak I foud out just how many, since unvaccinated kids couldn’t come to school for 6 weeks! Suddenly everyone was running to the doctor’s office to get a shot, or suddenly finding their vaccination booklet.
And JM, my understanding is MDs, NDs, ARNPs, and PAs can sign the form. NDs do view vaccinations somewhat differently than MDs, but many I have had contact with recommend them, even if it’s on a different schedule.
I’m glad a school nurse replied because I just didn’t get this scenario. Do we know what percentage of exemptions are parents sleeping at the wheel versus real vaccine resistance? I say sleeping at the wheel because, seriously, how hard is it to show that your kid got 5 series of shots? You don’t even need the *complete* record. I tossed the booklet into the recycling bin and rely on my kids’ medical records. Booklets can be lost in a move, but where ever you go, you are likely to transfer their medical records. If we did this for \busy\ and disorganized people, it makes me hate the law. I’d rather fine them for wasting the DOH’s time if there is a breakout and their kid is actually vaxed. Enrollment for kindergarten opens in January in my district and runs through June, then starts again in August. Six months to make a phone call and get that vax schedule BEFORE standing in line. If you really slacked or just got to to town, you got all summer.
Is it possible that someone doesn’t know vaccines are required for school? My illiterate migrant worker parents figured it out 31 yrs ago. The dept of health sends mail about it least once per year. When my child completed any of hep b, polio, mmr, varicella, and dtap, my ped and her MA made a point to mention it. \She won’t need another one of these until she turns 4 and start getting ready for kindergarten.\ When I called to schedule her 4 year well child, the receptionist said we had to schedule it after my daughter’s birthday so that she could get her kindy shots. If you’re walking out of you’re kid’s 4 year well child not informed about whether your kid is up-to-date for kindy, then you’re pediatrician is sleeping at the wheel, too. Not to mention that truly busy parents have practice producing vax records when they sign their kids up for daycare, preschool, summer camp, and sports. That’s how I got in the habit of NOT keeping the book but requesting a printout from my pediatrician’s office each year for school and activities that require it.
Overall, I don’t think laws like this will do much to sway people who have an anti-vax position. Just like mandatory counseling and ultrasounds in some states have made only a minor dent in abortions. How many staunch anti-vax families do you have in your practice? Do you think this opportunity to give them a pamphlet, show a video, make an appeal will sway them? Or do you think this law will alienate them enough to seek a provider who will rubber stamp the form?
Robert Schecter says
Your post inspired me to respond on my own blog. The response is entitled, \Dr. Wendy’s Washington\
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD says
I read your post. It will be interesting to see if any of the readers here do too. Thanks for casting your opinion.
Would love to hear readers’ opinions of your thoughts. Have you read my other posts on immunizations? Explain to me why my grasp is “limited.” Would be helpful to understand more fully.
I too read Mr. Schecter’s post & it immediately lit a fire in me. I firmly believe vaccinations are just one modern advancement & tool we as a society are fortunate to have. Yes, there are side effects as well as perceived risks that one must weigh, but so does that over-the-counter Tylenol we take for that nagging headache. I find it interesting that Mr. Schecter is so quick to assume that the diseases these vaccinations were developed to fight against are “mild illnesses that used to be part of growing up”. Unless he has had the misfortune to see a child in the ICU on a ventilator fighting Hib meningitis or travelled to third world countries to see the effects of these diseases, I would caution him to make such quick assumptions. Yes, these diseases predate the immunizations but there is plenty of evidence out there that the author is looking for that clearly shows the great decline in the prevalence after they were implemented.
If the main argument is that natural immunity is always better & far safer than giving that vaccine, then I wonder if this individual also declines the antibiotic offered for an ear infection or the stitches to fix up that deep cut from an accident while chopping food.
Just getting into a car or crossing the street is risky these days but I choose to wear my seatbelt & use crosswalks – not because it is convenient, but because they were designed to protect me.
I Ronnie says
It’s funny that you mention that his post “lit a fire” in you. Mr Schrechtlich, you see, is not someone who has any medical qualifications or expertise.
His qualification is in Fire Science.
For reasons known only to him, he believes that his fire-learnings equip and entitle him to troll every blog post about vaccines, and give his “expert” opinion.
Just turn the hose on him.
Rhiannon Scriven says
“Overall, I don’t think laws like this will do much to sway people who have an anti-vax position. Just like mandatory counseling and ultrasounds in some states have made only a minor dent in abortions. How many staunch anti-vax families do you have in your practice? Do you think this opportunity to give them a pamphlet, show a video, make an appeal will sway them? Or do you think this law will alienate them enough to seek a provider who will rubber stamp the form?”
My thoughts too!
I am a tad unbelieving that people are signing the exemptions because they forgot to vaccinate their children. But, then again, I suppose I am not that “lazy” and would not do such a thing so it is hard for me to fathom…but, I will take it at face value for now. I think this sounds more like a hard push for vaccines than a way to overcome poor vaccination history.
I am personally against one more piece of paper and legal involvement in my decision not to vaccinate my daughter. I have discussed it with her pediatrician, in fact, I see her pediatrician has responded to this posting. She referred me here, so that is good to know that we’re both reading the same things. Mandatory “education” isn’t going to sway my views and I find it laughable that someone would even begin to think that this education would present both sides; the material presented would more than likely be lots of scarey statistics and numbers meant to frighten people into making a hastey decision. I didn’t make this decision based on lack of time – I made this decision with forethought and education – this is my daughter’s life we’re talking about, I didn’t take the decision lightly.
It seems like a forceful attempt to raise vaccine “awareness” to me and quite frankly, regardless of calling it otherwise, it seems like yet another attempt to sell vaccines.
Jean McDougall says
Do you really mean to say that you will “happily sign these papers for families if they decide to opt-out or exempt from immunizations”? The fact that some parents would knowingly put their child and others in the community at risk of serious morbidity and mortality from vaccine preventable disease after being counseled in clinic is horribly sad.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD says
I will; it’s now part of my job. My job isn’t to lambast parents or make it difficult for families. My job is to listen, advise, and help families feel safe in understanding the science, the medicine, and the issues of vaccine safety and protection to the best of my ability.
Most families who are concerned about vaccine safety end up immunizing their children. All do not, of course. I’m not the pediatrician who will fire a patient for a different set of understandings or beliefs than my own and it’s my job to ensure that families who are hesitant get access to exceptional care just like those who are not hesitant.
I want to partner with families not divide from them.
Further, I suspect there will be families who fill out the paperwork and then also immunize…
as a epidemiologist, working, pro vaccine- mother of two young kids i found myself in the embarrasing position last year where school choice forms were due for my incoming kindergardener within the week but i had no way of getting him the vaccines we had lapsed on because he was ill at his well child checkup and we (ped and i agreed) to not add insult to injury. yes, this is extreme (maybe- although this does seem to be life), but had i not signed to opt out of vaccines for his school choice packet we would not have been able to have an opportunity to have a choice about the school he attended. i actually am supportive of this bill, but i do think that some of the hurdles surrounding school need to be more manageable, or that notes need to be sent to parents about upcoming deadlines when kids are not yet enrolled so that families still have some maneuverabiilty. and in this case, his vaccines were up to date before the first day of school. furthermore, getting in to your pediatricians office to catch up on vaccines and physicals (for sports) at the end of summer can be almost impossible because we are all out there doing the same thing. maybe child profile (the state run vaccine registry that sends out those great age-appropriate flyers on/near kids’ birthday) can specifically send a reminder to school age children at the BEGINNING of summer, or spring alerting parents to the oncoming deadlines and requirements.
p.s. love your blog
I am hearing a lot about pushing folks to “be educated” but this whole article sounds really one-sided. Do you think that if you want people to be educated, you might educate them equally on risks and benefits? My son died from a vaccine reaction, and it wasn’t his first series that got him. Do you understand parents need to know everything? Not just how vaccines supposedly save lives?
It does happen. People need to be aware and this article is just like any “pro-vaccination” doctor you talk to. Lies. Vaccinated children are just as much at risk of carrying a disease and spreading it as any other child vaccinated or not. True, they may not show signs, but it does NOT mean they have not been exposed and are not a carrier. That is just ignorance. Vaccines are not a force-field. Who really needs education here?
The only thing I can say here is people REALLY need to learn for themselves (as with all situations) instead of believing what they hear. (That goes for either side of the argument.) You cannot trust anyone but yourself as a parent.
Parents: Can anyone here tell me EXACTLY what it is they are injecting into your child? I mean a list of ingredients? What is really inside that syringe? Also, how might it affect your child in 10, 20, or 30 years? How was it grown? What is the process? Hmmm…….
Woodinville Mama says
A few moms on both sides have commented here. I feel the legislation is on par with seatbelt patrols. Designed to keep us safer!
I find it almost astonishing that people sign the box out of “convenience,” but regardless, I don’t think the law is a big deal. I’ll get the extra signature. My doctor “educates” me on the risks every time my child has his check-up. I don’t believe any more education will sway my decision, because my decision is already based on a LOT of research, as well as my own intuition, which I dont like to go against.
Hooray for putting us more in line with the rest of the country. Despite living here for 6 years now, the west coast philosophy in instances like this one still seems absurd to me. Do you know if naturopathic providers are allowed to counsel and sign these forms? I find it interesting that many people do not realize that naturopathic providers are not physicians who are also training in naturopathy but are actually have a different type of training all together and that while they have a set of knowledge unique to their field they do not also have comprehensive pediatric training in addition. I am not sure if their training is commiserate with the counseling needed to discuss this issue with a family.
Sandra Nelson says
Help!! I live in Olympia, WA. I just found out about this bill Gregoire passed forcing parents who choose not to vaccinate children to have a Dr. exclude them, but only after they give us the third degree over their reasons why it is nessasary. I have a 5 yr old who needs to go to school here next week and I do not have a primary care doctor. What do I do. I don’t want to be harassed about my decisions. This was never a problem with my older children….Any one know of a doctor in Olympia that I can get to sign off on the exemption?
Response to MRN
Vaccine ingredients include known toxicants and carcinogens such as thimersol (a mercury derivative), aluminum phosphate, formaldehyde (for which the Poisons Information Centre in Australia claims there is no acceptable safe amount that can be injected into a living human body), and phenoxyethanol (commonly known as antifreeze). Some of these ingredients are gastrointestinal toxicants, liver toxicants, respiratory toxicants, neurotoxicants, cardiovascular and blood toxicants, reproductive toxicants, and developmental toxicants, to name a few of the known dangers. Chemical ranking systems rate many vaccine ingredients among the most hazardous substances, and they are heavily regulated. Even microscopic doses of some of these ingredients are known to be able to cause serious injury. In addition, some vaccine mediums used in the production of vaccines contain human diploid cells originating from human aborted fetal tissue, a fact that might affect many people’s vaccination choices—if they only knew this was the case.
Here folks. Dr M’s article contains a reference to your situation which I felt I should look into…though knowing it is likely true because he tends to to only report truth.
I feel for you guys, and know we’re probably not far behind.
Sadly, there’s a serious battle looming: for autonomy over our own bodies.
I do not have a problem with the Washington State law, because listening to a doctor tell me their opinion regarding vaccines will not change my opinion. While I am not anti-vaccine, I do worry about a possible link between the MMR and autism or other autism related disorders. I also worry that parents who make informed decisions NOT to vaccinate are being labeled “lazy” or are considered stupid. I am not lazy or stupid, and I have postponed the MMR for my son because I just don’t know where the truth lies. I cannot discount the thousands of parents (some of whom I know personally) who tell the exact same story: their child was normal, and a few days after the MMR, there was a high fever, seizures, and now the child is autistic. How can you ignore those parents, and tell them there is no causal link? It’s insanely disrespectful and dangerous to simply dismiss their claims. Perhaps their children all had some undiagnosed underlying conditions that made the MMR dangerous (like the case of the little girl with the mitochondrial problem that had the MMR and then became autistic), but the drug companies have certainly not openly admitted that this could be a problem.
The drug companies are dishonest, and lack credibility, which makes it all the more difficult for me to make a decision about the MMR. For example, the medical profession strongly encourages parents to give their infant the Hep B vaccine before they leave the hospital (I did). The chance that your baby will get Hep B is very small –unless they are IV drug users or are engaging in sexual activity, or have to have a blood transfusion. But, the chance that they could have a horrible reaction to the vaccine is real, and was never disclosed to me. Please see Iansvoice.org and see what happened to that poor baby. Dr. Swanson, what would you tell Ian’s parents? “Oh sorry, the chance of a bad reaction is 1 in a million, but I guess your son was that one. Opps.” Can you explain to me WHY the medical profession pushes the Hep B vaccine at birth, even though the risk of contracting it is almost zero? Things like this simply make both the medical profession and the drug manufacturers lose credibility in my eyes. I am not a conspiracy theorist, but this kind of thing makes me wonder.
Let’s also look at the fact that the United States gives more vaccines than any other country in the world, and also spends more money on healthcare than any other country, but our infant mortality rate is very high. Countries who vaccinate less and spend less on healthcare have lower infant mortality rates. Why? I don’t pretend to know the answer, but I do know this: vaccines are not as safe as we are led to believe; adverse reactions to vaccines are more common than we are led to believe; and more research needs to be done to find out what is actually going on.
It doesn’t help that vaccine proponents are bright, educated, engaging people like you, Dr. Swanson, and many of the anti-vaccine crowd could be considered a bit crazy (sorry, but it’s true). That only hurts the anti-vaccine folks, because people write them off as anti-government nuts. That’s unfortunate, because I think there is some truth hidden in all of their rhetoric.
I have not yet made a decision about the MMR. I have spent countless nights reading everything I can get my hands on, trying to decipher where the truth lies. What I do know is this…if I give my bright, talkative, interactive son the MMR vaccine and shortly thereafter he has a high fever, seizures, and is then non-responsive, I will never forgive myself. On the other hand, if he gets measles and dies, I will also never forgive myself. It’s a horrible no-win situation to be in as a parent. Sadly, sitting and listening to a doctor tell me how necessary the vaccines are is not going to give me any of the answers I seek. It is also not going to sway me one way or the other. Please don’t simply dismiss the vaccine fears as unfounded. And please don’t ever call someone who makes the impossibly difficult decision not to vaccinate lazy or stupid. If I decide not to give my son the MMR, it is something that I will worry about every single day.
Christian Hesketh says
Here’s another reason for exemption that seriously calls into question their statistics: people from other countries (eg, Canada) that have up-to-date immunizations for children, but for which the vaccination schedule of their native country does not match perfectly that of the state of Washington. Our children had a single varicella dose (higher than given in WA) rather than 3 smaller doses. In addition, they had the recombinant bivalent TwinRix (HepA/B) rather than 3 separate hepB and 3 separate hepA shots. No reasonable medical professional would argue that their vaccinations are inadequate, but the Lake Washington School Board would not accept them. In addition, we had great difficulty finding a doctor who would grant us an exemption.
My position is that an exemption in this case is not necessary and a meaningless waste of time. It significantly skews the number of true opt-outs and renders the state’s statistics meaningless unless this is taken into account. This also bothers me because it places me the same category as the anti-vaccine nuts that are also replying to your blog post.
Elizabeth Sennett says
There’s always two sides to every story, but the fact is that the doctors and drug manufacturing companies via the department of health, ie CDC FDA etc., are the only “pushers” of something so personal, IMO.
People think it is risky to the community to opt out , in the event of a disease breakout, I doubt there will be a single file orderly line to check the people that are already immunized, I imagine they will suggest or paranoid parents will get duplicate shots, “just to be sure” .
Everything done in the dark comes to light
if the concern for our health and our community was so great, why aren’t they handing out lice combs and antibiotics as standard procedures? If my child gets an illness, nature will do whAt te creator wills. If I intentionally allow a stranger, a “health care practioner” , to inject multiple known toxic concoctions under the guise of preventative care, and the side effects are fatal, I’ve just given permission to someone to lethaly inject my child. Forgive me, Lord. Forgive them, Lord, for they know not what they do.
Those of you that choose to, good for you, but since when did science and modern medicine become so great that child is any less likely to pick up ringworm or herpes later on,? Religion and science are like trying to pick which came first the chicken or the egg? Man has created more of his ow. Demises with each new “scientific breakthrough” or “medical procedure”
we are supposed to be free to choose. Non judging. If we cannot encourage unconditional respect and love, how can we claim we have a better way of doing things?
The truth will always come out on top.
Jesus was ridiculed and outcast, he did not falter.
You will have to FORCE me to give up my free will to think and to parent my child how I see fit. If j knew then what I knew now, I wouldn’t have even had my children isssued ss Cards and certificates of ownership, ie birth. I will never trust any alphabet soup agency. Prove to me what is in your needle is what u say it is, because why should hundreds of pArents prove that the fault is yours, when we are sure of everything surrounding these permantent and fatal reactions, except for what was injected.
Fact is CDC won’t count many of these adverse reactions for various reasons and requirements to be considered such as over ten days, or how long and what specific temp of fever. It’s like a liability clause for health insurance. Wake up, these kids are going into convulsions, and dying and because it’s say 12 days after it’s not even considered a possible reaction, no research is even given. It’s up to us. It’s controversal, but it’s free will.
http://Www.thinktwice.com These stories are enough to break any parents sure resolve. I don’t ever see anyones survival stories regarding hep or pertusis. Not saying it’s not out there, but these combo shot cocktails are really no better and it’s proved that the immunity isn’t proved consistsntly or researched completely. What is guaranteed is the fat paychecks and incentives of the drug dealers who are flying first class while your kids get innoculated, and intoxicated, indoctrinated.
Welcome to the land of the free and the home of the brave. You are free to do as we tell you. Go back to bed America your government is in control
Not sure forcing a conversation about this is the best way to change hearts and minds unless doctors are schooled in how best to approach this conversation and explain why it is necessary. But I too am hopeful this law will at least help convince the majority of those that are hesitant about vaccination that the evidence-based scientific facts support the fact vaccinating is the best choice for most people and is the best way to protect the community at large. It would also be helpful to have a quiet atmosphere in which to discuss the risks and benefits of vaccination. If my experience at well-baby check ups is any guide most of the time I had to strain to here my pediatrician over the screams of my child. This conversation is too important to be done in anything less than a distraction-free setting. I do wonder though if this law will only cause anti-vaccine parents to cluster their kids together even more leading to more disease outbreaks in their groups? So far those kids have enjoyed the benefits of protection from the herd correct Dr. Wendy? But would this at least put others not medically able to be vaccinated at less risk while in schools for example?
It is easy to understand why many parents are confused and concerned and err on the side of just doing nothing especially when we don’t live in a time when so many people suffered from what are now vaccine-preventable diseases. For every adverse vaccine reaction story can be matched many times over from the impact of these diseases: https://shotbyshot.org/story-gallery/ Most of us after all are not schooled in medicine or immunology so it is really really hard to sift through the junk science to get to the truth. And it is no wonder we have come to this place with the perfect storm of eroded doctor-patient relationships, digital-age information-overload and mistrust of institutions. And no surprise too certain groups seized upon the opportunity to capitalize on the money-making potential this storm provided to spread fear of vaccines for their own gain. I suppose we could get into a conversation about what makes the truth the truth and the facts the facts but so far the evidence presented to me by the pro-vaccine side is far more convincing than the anti-vaccine side, which largely consists of only anecdotal evidence and vague generalizations that government lies! Scientists lie! Doctors are in it with big pharma! While completely ignoring the fact that the Wakefields of this world are in fact profiting from engaging in junk science and spreading anti-vaccine myths. https://www.businessweek.com/lifestyle/content/healthday/648562.html
Understandable too why parents being asked to provide this documentation might feel judged and resentful. That’s because you are being judged and you are being asked to defend your choice. No one likes their parenting being judged and most of the time, moms, especially only enjoy one day out of the year, Mother’s day, when they are told Good Job! But this is a choice that carries with it dire consequences for not just yourself but children – our greatest resource – and the community at large. I suspect most parents vehemently against this law are against it because they really probably know they aren’t able of defending their choice using the gold standard of truth: scientific evidence-based facts so they just say they are “philosophically“ opposed to it, have “concerns” and that should suffice and their rights trump anyone else’s rights. But we’ve been imperfectly balancing rights since the founding of the republic and it doesn‘t suffice to say you just don’t “believe” in it and want to have your own opinions AND your own facts You really can’t get away with saying you don’t “believe” in car seats without penalty. They are required by law for a really good scientific evidence-based reason. If folks want to learn more about the law and what medical professionals are qualified to sign off on the exemption go here: https://www.doh.wa.gov/cfh/immunize/schools/exemption-FAQ.htm#require
Emily Delaney says
As parent that opts-out of vaccinations, I don’t have a problem with the new law or form. I do, however, have a problem getting the form signed. My children’s doctor refuses to sign the new form. He says, “I’ve never seen it before,” despite my explanation of the new law and form that goes along with it. My insurance won’t let me go somewhere else without a lot of paperwork, and there is no guarantee that the new doctor would sign the form either. I hope this new form doesn’t become of way for doctors to control their patients decisions, instead of a new way to work together.
And if you know of any doctors that will sign my form without requiring a billed office visit, please send me their way.
Melissa Draszt says
I agree with MRN, this is a very one sided article I find completely annoying. If your job is to listen, support and help parents understand the topic then you have failed on a drastic scale you have not mentioned one thing in said article to benefit the mind to expanding in a way of thinking, that is not being told what to think and do, apply all the facts, otherwise your job as an advice columnist/article writer will be short lived. We tend to find people like you that were given a job by your boss to write about a topic and doing just that; without raising an eyebrow on why they have given margins to adhere to makes you just another pawn in the billion dollar industry currently ruining humankind!!!
I have a similar problem…We arrived here a month ago from an european country and we have to enroll the child into school this week (first grade)…My child has all the obligatory vaccines from my country and I do not intend to stress him with extra vaccines (e.g he had chicken pox so this vaccine would have no reason…) I was very surprised to read the phrase: ” Complete immunizations are required by law in order to attend school. Students with incomplete immunization records will be excluded from school” in the registration forms. Is that possible? I have a personal document with all his vaccines (including the signature and the stamp from the physician)…We have done hepatitis B, DTAP, Polio and MMR vaccines…and he had varicella 4 years ago…he was exposed to varicella and he did not catch the virus again…How I can proof this? My signature will be enough?
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD, MBE says
Your signature stating your child had varicella when he was 4 years-old will be enough from my understanding when it is in his health record.
You’re correct: if he had chicken pox illness, there is no indication or need for the varicella vaccine.
Annika Barber says
It’s weird how antivaccine advocates frame this as “the government interfering with autonomy over your own body.” If you don’t want your kids vaccinated, don’t send them to public school. It is well within a schools rights to require vaccination (and forbid peanuts and whatever else). You don’t have to send your kid.
I just want to say from my personal experiences, that my children are very healthy, have excellent immunity, and I can not thank God enough every day that I chose not to vaccinate them from birth.
The herd immunity is flawed; non-vaccined children are not a threat to others; the medical industry has used this scare tactic for too long, and is never willing to look honestly of all those who spoke up, and risked in losing their reputations and positions against this powerful profit generating machine.
It will continue to deceive the public if we are willing to be fed the lies so that we get the false “peace of mind”. With all the people suffering from cancers, autisms, dementia…, with hundreds of new vaccines in development to the most vulnerable, from the very young to the very old, it is time for America to wake up and speak up, to choose a new path and to believe and know that we are created beautifully by God Almighty who loves us and will not purposely cause suffering for us. Wake up and stand up, America! For your health and life, speak up!
This article is very one sided and missinformed, as are many comments on here… Parents who don’t immunize did not make decision lightly or without research, and not for reasons of “convenience “, in fact we are more researched than parents who do and decided not to based on heavy research, and for religious reasons as well! The requirements are controlling and unconstitutional, asking my religion and name of church is discriminatory and biased… My religion and reasons don’t matter and are not the school’s or doctor’s business! This is America, it’s called constitution rights and let’s not forget to mention the children getting these diseases are the immunized one’s!! You immunized are putting our children at risk… It’s illogical to blame the one’s who don’t participate and haven’t gotten sick for the one’s who did participate and spread it!!
Douglas Daniels says
It is really amazing to what lengths the Medical-Pharmaceutical-CDC-FDA-NIH Industrial Complex will go to make a single dollar bill without regard to the welfare of human beings. If I need a broken leg set, I would see a Medical Doctor. Medical Doctors are expert at emergency care, however, Medical Doctors and their business kill 10 times more Americans each and every single year than all of the soldiers killed during the Vietnam War. I’m talking about “Medical Misadventures” and fatal drug interactions and the like Every year. The people who run the FDA, CDC and NIH are for the most part former executives of pharmaceutical conglomerates, that make national policy on behalf of their former employers and only support, defend and implement research benefiting the profit margin of the corporations that they were employed by. After government service, many government employees go right back to working for the corporations that they had previously worked for. Intentionally injecting Americans with poison laced vaccines is immoral, unethical and demonstrable. Most Medical Doctors are ignorant about nutrition because medical school devotes little or no attention to this very basic foundation of health. The World Health Organization ranks the United States 38th in healthcare, though we spend the most per capita of any nation on earth. The Commonwealth Fund ranks the United States dead last in health care among developed nations. You be the judge. You get educated. You get informed. You decide.