Randy sent me this morning an article from World Net Daily (don’t snicker) about the Palma family, who was forced to twice defend their religious beliefs to an attorney from the school district regarding their religious exemption to vaccines.
Then I Googled them to see if they ultimately vaccinated or if they moved away. They vaccinated.
And I found this article from American Medical News. It speaks of a model law that they hope would reduce opt-outs and yet still allow them. (this after panicking because “almost half” of measles cases in 1996 – over 10 years ago – were in nonvaccinated kids. Almost half?) Anyway…
A model school-immunization law to allow religious and personal-belief exemptions has been drafted by physicians and public health and legal experts from the Arkansas Medical Society, the Institute for Vaccine Safety at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the Centers for the Law and the Public’s Health at Johns Hopkins and Georgetown Universities.
Under the plan, parents would have to obtain a signature from a licensed physician or health department official to prove they received counseling about the risks and benefits of vaccines. They also would be required to present a signed, personal statement demonstrating how long they have held their beliefs and that they understand the risks and benefits of vaccines.
A parent’s decision to opt out “should be based on deeply held beliefs, not just a little doubt or uncertainty or the easiest path,” said Neal A. Halsey, MD, director of the Institute for Vaccine Safety, which helped draft the model law.
“If somebody really doesn’t want to immunize their child against the measles, we want to make sure they’re fully educated about the consequences. They should have to go through a rigorous process,” Dr. Halsey said.
Many pediatricians, infectious disease experts and ethicists said the model law is fair and should be adopted in one or two states to gauge its effect on opt-out rates. Arkansas enacted a more lenient version of the proposal in 2004.
The article goes on to discuss how some parents think it’s horrible to have doctors as the gatekeepers, but I guess I don’t see doctors as the gatekeepers here. They are educating and counseling (and, no doubt, engaging in unethical tactics akin to those utilized by many OBs when faced with a VBAC mom). But the doctors, according to the above, have no say in whether the exemption is allowed.
I can go sit in a room and ignore a doctor for an hour or so if it gets me an exemption. I’m totally OK with that. And I’m also totally OK with having parents who do not wish to vaccinate being given ACCURATE information about vaccines. That won’t happen… but even so, I do think parents who choose not to vaccinate need to be aware of the risks. It would be awesome if those doctors doing the counseling could also offer advice on how to detect the onset of the various illnesses and what can be done for them. (Most doctors actually cannot offer this information, just as many OBs actually cannot attend a breech – they just don’t have the skills or knowledge.)
So, I say, bring it on!