We shared this post about back-to-school shots in September of 2014. Before more schools begin another academic year, we thought we'd update the post and share it again.
Ronan started school this week. He was severely affected by vaccines. He’s non-verbal, completely dependent on others and has autism. Because of other medical issues that stemmed from the vaccine injury, Ronan’s on a modified school day only able to attend school for a few hours a day and only a few days a week. Before this school year started, I dropped off some paperwork to the school: Ronan’s health care plan, his seizure plan and his vaccine exemption form. Until I’m assured that vaccines truly are safe and effective, that vaccine exemption form will accompany him each year until he graduates.
Back-to-school letters from school administration typically include a cheerful welcome. An announcement or two about what to expect on the first day back and a kind request to drop off school supplies including any remaining forms might be added in the letter, too. Ronan’s school recently sent out a back-to-school announcement. Included was a memo about ‘back-to-school’ shots with a message that made it sound like he had to get them or he wouldn’t be allowed to attend school. I appreciate the gentle reminder to wrap up our summer fun, but I do not care to be told incomplete and inaccurate information. I especially don’t like it when that sort of information is demanded as the tone of the messages I received most certainly was a demand.
With the opportunity schools have with the large population they serve, instead of properly educating parents that vaccines are optional, I find that they’ve misinterpreted laws, altered wording and have been allowed to make absurd vaccine demands. Making vaccine demands is both troubling and fascinating. Troubling because some people would never think to question a school policy and fascinating because literature parents are given elsewhere about vaccines may state otherwise.
Why are dictator-like demands being handed down to parents? For many, to say get-vaccines-or-your-child-can’t-come-to-school is untrue. And honestly, it’s dangerous. Fortunately, for those who cannot or do not want to get vaccines, due to contraindications to medical conditions or because of religious belief for example, opting out of vaccines is still possible in some states. (Opting out is actually a terrible term to use because, for the majority in the US, vaccines on the CDC’s schedule are merely recommended.)
It’s a shame that parents feel the vaccine heat from schools. Instead of focusing on administering first aid when it’s necessary, school nurses have been allowed to become school shot Nazis. The very people who can educate parents don’t. What do parents do? Blindly trust? Yes. Let their guard down? More often than not, yes. They do both because they haven’t figured out or learned that need to keep their guard up. I was that parent when I let fear and a school nurse persuade a decision I now know I didn’t have to make. That decision is one I regret to this day.
I recently witnessed a student being told she must get the shot or she will not be allowed into school. Worse, the young girl was told her the shot would be good for her. I wonder if the nurse based her opinion with information from a vaccine study from the CDC. With the recent allegations coming from a CDC scientist who authored a study that includes apparent fraud, the school nurse is not only telling half-truths, she might very well be citing falsified information.
If parents chose to vaccinate that’s a decision they should make on their own. It should never be a made because someone bullied, persuaded or worse, demanded it of them. Never.
I can only hope and pray that the student’s parents know to look up what is actually required and to then exercise their rights to know that they can say no, thank you when the school comes around looking for documentation.
I know better how to advocate for my children because of past vaccine decisions I made. I educated myself enough to know that even though a nurse said my children had to get shots to get into school, I discovered that no, my children could not be barred from school entry if they did not get the vaccines she said they needed. Unfortunately, I learned that fact after I’d already begun to vaccinate my children though. I wish I’d started learning sooner because what I also learned is that vaccines come with no warranty, no guarantee and should vaccine cause a reaction, no one would be sticking around after the fact to help me or my child. That was a tough lesson to learn.
Not all back-to-school letters and supply lists need to include vaccines. If your state offers exemptions, I wish that that information would be a part of any and every vaccine communication that comes from the schools. I asked Ronan’s new school nurse to please consider adding exemption information to future vaccine messages. It really don’t think it would be too hard to do. It’s as simple as including a link or directing parents to search their state’s particular vaccine exemption information. One line is all it takes: “…vaccine exemptions can be submitted…download this form or follow these directions…” Easy, right? Sadly, I find didn’t find that information included in the latest back-to-school paperwork I got from the school.
Maybe they will include the information next year.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.
To search vaccine exemptions state-by-state, follow this link http://www.nvic.org/vaccine-laws/state-vaccine-requirements.aspx to the National Vaccine Information Center’s website.