A call to action from our sponsor, The Canary Party
By Patti Carroll
Several months ago, it was brought to the attention of vaccine safety groups in Minnesota that the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) was proposing to add more shots to their recommended schedule, and lower the recommended age for other shots on the schedule. Luckily, we have a really strong group of advocates here, and representatives from several groups came together to plan what to do. We knew we would have a battle on our hands, as attempts to fight changes a decade ago were unsuccessful. In fact, MDH’s recommended changes to the vaccine schedule have never been successfully stopped. But that would never stop us from trying.
The rule in Minnesota is that if at least 25 people write in to oppose the changes, then a hearing before an administrative law judge must occur. If not, MDH can simply adopt the changes that they themselves have recommended. So step one was to get at least 25 people to write in to the administrative law judge, opposing the rule changes. We sent out an action alert, and about 100 people wrote in contesting the rule changes. So a hearing was set up for June 27, 2013.
Next step for the team – what could we actually fight here? The administrative law judge’s job was to determine:
1. Did the MDH have the authority to make these changes?
2. Did the MDH follow all the required procedures when making these proposals?
3. Were the proposed changes necessary and reasonable?
Knowing they had the authority to make these recommendations (whether or not we believe this authority is justified in the first place), and knowing they had followed the necessary steps to propose the changes, we knew our strongest argument would be on whether these changes were needed and reasonable. As we pored over the lengthy SONAR document (Statement Of Need And Reasonableness) put together by an advisory group appointed by MDH, it became clear that their arguments were shaky. They made these proposals in order to bring Minnesota into alignment with the CDC recommended schedule, but of course the CDC schedule has never been proven to be safe, and has come under intense scrutiny recently by members of congress. And there is no need to mandate some of these vaccines, since the number of people getting the diseases is actually DECLINING in Minnesota in the age ranges for which they are recommending the new requirements.
Which begs the question – why? And why now? As we all know, there are fights heating up in many other states to take away individuals’ rights to opt out of vaccines. Minnesota Commissioner of Health Ed Ehlinger has publicly stated that he supports removing the rights of Minnesotans to choose when and how to vaccinate their children. Perhaps these changes are simply a way to get more vaccines on the schedule before MDH then tries to remove our rights to refuse them.
So for the past several months, our little band of advocates worked tirelessly to hone our arguments, get the press involved, reach out to medical professionals to submit testimony, fact-check the SONAR document, write and submit our own testimony, and contact parents to urge them to attend the hearing. We had multiple meetings and conference calls, with representatives from several Minnesota groups attending when they could, including The Minnesota Natural Health Coalition, Vaccine Awareness Minnesota, DAMS (Dental Amalgam Mercury Syndrome), BEATMN (Biological & Educational Autism Treatments MN), The Minnesota Natural Health Legal Reform Project, The Canary Party and the Vaccine Safety Council of Minnesota. We were contacted by concerned individuals from all over the country. Minnesotans I had not met before reached out to me through CP and VSCM, asking if we were involved and what they could do. Two of them came and testified.
We had two parents of children who were killed by vaccines (but were unable to travel here) submit powerful testimony that was read to the judge by members of our group. And when I called my friend Karen Kain
to ask if she would come and testify, she did not even hesitate.
We reached out to attorneys with the National Health Freedom Action group, asking if they could analyze the legal aspects of the proposed changes, and I was excited to find out a few days before the hearing that Ann Tenner would come and testify for us on behalf of that group.
Friendly groups sent out our action alerts to their readership. And several knowledgeable doctors sent in their comments.
The day of the hearing we had two people planning to testify for us that had to leave before they were given an opportunity to speak. One of them had to rush home to take care of his severely vaccine-injured son with autism. I was afraid we would be outnumbered and overwhelmed. But surprisingly, there were more people testifying against the rule changes than for them. And we had far stronger arguments.