2011-02-14 ACTION WA Bill Threatens Vaccine Exemption and Sets Dangerous Precedent for ALL States


Dear NVIC Advocacy Team Members,

We are sending this NVIC Advocacy Team Alert to all our members to inform you of two bills in the state of Washington, HB1015 and SB5005, that not only threaten vaccine philosophical and religious exemptions for Washington residents but set a dangerous precedent for all Americans who value the ability to utilize a vaccine exemption for their children to delay or decline one or more state mandated vaccines.
1.      For a quick multimedia primer on why it is so important for everyone to help fight HB1015 and SB5005 in the state of Washington, please watch NVIC’s short videoWA State Vaccine Law Threatens Exemptions & Violates Privacy”. If we let this happen in Washington, it can happen anywhere. 
2.      Please forward this email note to everyone you know, especially those in Washington, and post the link to the video, http://www.nvic.org/NVIC-Vaccine-News/February-2011/WA-State-Vaccine-Law-Threatens-Exemptions---Violat.aspx on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and other social media sites.
3.      If you are not already registered for NVIC’s free Advocacy Portal at http://NVICAdvocacy.org, sign up today so you can receive timely important email updates of our efforts to expand and protect vaccine exemptions in your state and to be automatically linked to your personal legislators and their contact information.
4.      WASHINGTON RESIDENTS: Immediately contact your own Washington State Representative and Senator asking them to Oppose HB1015 and SB5005.  You can log on to your Washington state page on http://NVICAdvocacy.org to view the following talking points and be linked directly to your state legislators.
In summary, HB1015 and SB5005 seek to make it more difficult for parents to utilize existing philosophical/conscientious or religious exemptions to mandatory vaccination laws by requiring parents to obtain a signed statement from a licensed physician, physician’s assistant, naturopath or nurse practitioner that the parents were provided information about the benefits and risks of "immunization".
HB1015 and SB5005 should be defeated for a number of reasons:
  • These bills require a parent using a religious or philosophical exemption to enter into a private contractual paid relationship with a health care practitioner that may hold conflicting and contentious views on vaccination.
  • Because there is no requirement that the health care practitioner must provide education or sign the exemption form, this puts the health care practitioner in the position of judging the validity of and having the final approval of parental religious or conscientious beliefs.  This is morally wrong and violates the First Amendment rights of parents.
  • Parents love their children andwant the best for them.  Parents need to be respected by the state without interference by the state to make conscientious decisions in their child’s best interests. It is ludicrous to think that a couple minute conversation with a health care practitioner or a form letter being handed in an office visit is going to supersede the thoughtful time and research parents put into vaccination decisions. 
  • If this were truly about education and not intimidation or bullying, information or internet links could be provided to parents with the exemption form and the parent, instead of the health care practitioner, can sign that they have reviewed information on the benefits and risks of vaccination.
  • By making the exercising of a religious or philosophical/conscientious exemption conditional on a health care practitioner’s signature, it violates the spirit and intent of the law respecting parental rights and parental religious beliefs ultimately turning religious or philosophical/conscientious exemptions into medical exemptions.  
  • There is absolutely no immunization rate crisis in Washington and there is no valid reason for putting unreasonable barriers between parents and vaccine exemptions.  According to the CDC’s most recent National Immunization Survey, the individual vaccination rates for core vaccines in Washington are already high: 3 DTaP – 95.4%, 4 DTaP – 82.2%, 3 Polio – 92.9%,  1 MMR – 90.8%, 3 Hib – 92.7%,  3 Hep B – 88.6%, 1 Varicella – 85.4%, 3 Pneumococcal – 92.5%. 
  • Given that individual vaccination rates are high, legislators should not be misled into thinking that 1/3 of the children in Washington are unvaccinated.  Because the CDC insists on completely excluding children from their overall vaccine rate calculation who have missed even just one dose of one vaccine, this converts to an overall vaccination rate of only 67% with the primary influencing factors being children missing just their 4th dose of the DTaP vaccine or parents choosing to decline the known controversial Varicella/Chicken Pox and Hepatitis B vaccines.
  • It is wrong for those who oppose parental rights to mislead legislators with incomplete deceiving immunization rate data and blame the overall immunization rate on the ease of the process for completing the exemption form. 
  • Health is not adversely affected by the availability of philosophical/conscientious exemptions.  Out of the top eleven ranked healthiest states in the 2010 edition of America’s Health Rankings, six of them including Washington allow philosophical/conscientious belief exemptions (Vermont, Minnesota, Utah, Maine, Idaho, Washington). The healthiest state, Vermont, allows for a philosophical/conscientious belief exemption.
  • 19 states, including Washington, and almost 50% of the population of the United States, have philosophical/conscientious exemptions available without negative impact on public health.
  • The political trend is moving in favor of expanding vaccine exemptions, not restricting them.  In 2003, the Texas Legislature added a conscientious exemption to mandatory vaccination laws and there are five states with current bills filed to add philosophical/conscientious exemptions because it is the right thing to do:  Kansas – HB 2094, New Hampshire – HB 416, New Jersey – A 2450, New York – S 1331, and West Virginia – HB 2998. 
Thank you for your efforts, and together we can make a difference.