By An Observer
Hundreds of parents converged on Albany, the capital of New York, on Tuesday to demand a philosophical exemption to mandated vaccines and to protest a group of bills that would radically expand the number of vaccines required by children, and shift authority over vaccine rules from the state government to an obscure federal committee.
Buses arrived from as far away as Suffolk County on Long Island to Rochester in the far west of New York who chanted "My Kids My Choice."
After a press conference, chanting and lobbying activists converged on a meeting of the Assembly Health Committee where several vaccine bills were slated for discussion. Surprisingly, when several hundred organized, articulate determined parents showed up the vaccines bills were mysteriously dropped from the agenda.
The bill that got most of the parents there was Assembly Bill 10942, the bill activist group A-CHAMP dubbed the "Worst Vaccine Bill Ever in New York." The bill was submitted at the request of the State Department of Health. It would make all shots recommended by the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) mandatory, not only to attend school as in most states but for all children including infants and toddlers. Annual flu shots would become mandatory as would HPV, meningococcal and a bevy of new boosters.
Exemptions apply only for school attendance so parents may have no options under the current bill and could possibly be reported to child protective services if the federal schedule is not followed exactly.
The bill would also turn over authority for the New York vaccine schedule to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP), a federal committee composed of CDC officials and researchers with direct financial interests in the vaccine industry. The current chair of the ACIP is Dale Morse, an employee of the New York State Department of Health.
Parents were there to support bills as well. A5468/3031 would give New Yorker a right to a "philosophical exemption" to state mandatory vaccine regulations. New Yorkers can claim a religious exemption under current law, but unlike the residents of 20 other states -- including California, Texas, Pennsylvania and Ohio -- New Yorkers cannot get an exemption for secular reasons, such as a lack of confidence in the safety or efficacy of a vaccine, or doubts about the integrity of the companies that make the vaccines or the regulatory system that reviews and requires.
Despite the right to a religious exemption, New York law currently allows school districts to assess the sincerity of an applicant's religious beliefs. New York has avoided creating any regulations to guide schools districts, which would be blatantly unconstitutional, so each school district can do more or less what it wants. Some school districts, such as the Bayport Blue Point district, in Suffolk County, refuse to grant religious exemptions to anyone. Some districts force students to testify for hours before religious tribunals and answer extremely private questions about an entire families' medical histories and religious beliefs. Parents also argued for the passage or Assembly Bill 3164 which would prohibit school districts from questioning in any way an applicant for a religious exemption.
Another bill A9630 would allow minors to get vaccines for sexually-transmitted diseases without a parent's knowledge or permission. The bill is sponsored by Assemblymember Amy Paulin (Democrat-Scarsdale) who has received thousands of dollars in contributions from Merck, the manufacturer of the only HPV shot licensed in the US, and Eli Lilly, the inventor of thimerosal. Last year Paulin introduced a bill that tried to make HPV mandatory for all seventh grade girls in the state. Fortunately, parents stopped that bill last year.
Clearly something big is going on. With barely a week's notice this demonstration came together. Just by showing up parents shamed the Assembly into altering their agenda. More and more legislators are supporting new laws that put the safety of children first and rejecting the use of the force to government to meet the marketing goals of vaccine manufacturers.
Could we be at the beginning of the ebb of the vaccine behemoth? Some activist are starting to talk about the need for legislation that would start rolling back the mandatory schedule. There is no rational reason to give an infant a vaccine for hepatitis b, a sexually-transmitted disease. And the net result of the chicken pox shot has been the need for more chicken pox boosters and the creation of a shingles epidemic. These expensive and ill-conceived white elephants serve only to enrich vaccine companies and provide incomes for pediatricians who might otherwise be idle.
New Yorkers: click HERE to send a message to your elected officials in New York to oppose Assembly Bill 10942.
Click HERE to see video from W-NYT.
Find more information at My Kids My Choice.