In the midst of the incredible COVID-19 worldwide event, shelter-in-place orders were promulgated by the state. Americans were encouraged to stay away from and were even prevented from entering medical facilities, but one medical treatment was given a pass: vaccines.
The shutdown of medical facilities affected countless patients across the country, including my son. Where we could no longer access direct medical care for him with a team of physicians who knew his needs best, I was allowed to walk him right into a pediatrician’s office for a liability-free vaccine that comes with known adverse reactions and negative side effects. That’s because the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) was quick to disregard US governors’ stay-home orders. Instead of waiting for America to re-open like practically all other businesses had to, the AAP created a plan to keep vaccine visits a priority. Schools are taking on that same message. That’s nothing new. It doesn’t happen this early usually, but schools are now parroting information from the industry. Get your shots. Get them now.
Recently, I saw a notice regarding school physicals. Despite the restrictions that closed many classrooms and educational centers this year because of COVID-19, school officials remain hopeful that buildings will open in the fall. With that, parents were being asked to think ahead. That includes getting their students’ physicals. It also means getting up-to-date on vaccines.
Some clinics are suggesting catch-up shots as well.
At many well-child visits, beginning at 2-weeks of age, a set number of vaccines is recommended. If the child was unable to get to the doctor for the previously suggested appointment, the doctor might suggest that they get both sets of vaccines. Doubling up on shots doesn’t sound like the best idea, and that isn’t just a personal opinion. Safety studies have yet to be established on the entire vaccine schedule. To administer twice as many vaccines in one visit is ludicrous.
Something else that is unreasonable is that all too often, a school will cite the state law and send out a blanket statement: Shots are required for school entry. The school letter starts by stating that vaccines are safe and effective. They then list vaccines requirements, usually by grade or age. Some will use language that makes it sound as if it’s impossible for a child to gain school entry without a medical physical and all of the liability-free vaccines on the schedule. What isn’t included in those official notices is the smaller, yet equally valuable, message: exemptions are allowed.
Many states have taken exemptions away, but some do still exist. While personal belief and religious exemptions have been removed, medical exemptions exist in every state.
Granted, a medical condition may need to be further investigated, as well as additional paperwork be completed, but I do wish the schools would cite the entire law each time they provide parents with vaccine notices. It seems like it would be such an easy thing to do:
As we prepare for the school year, please provide a copy of your child’s immunization schedule with your registration form. State law requires your child be immunized before entering school. State law, which we encourage you to read, also allows for exemptions. Should you have any questions about this or other health-related issues, please visit the School Entrance tab on the Department of Education website or call our office. We would be more than happy to help you.
In the past, most of Ronan’s school nurses, as well as my other children’s, have been receptive to comments I’ve made about vaccines. They understand our story and have been sympathetic. They know that we have to tread lightly with certain medical procedures. It may go against their training to question vaccines and the reactions I report, but they have been surprisingly supportive. They would agree that an aggressive approach, like doubling up on vaccines, is a bad idea, too. Most experiences we’ve had have been good, but some staff don’t share the same opinion. Their stories are different. Vaccines did not do to their child what they did to mine. Just like the ones who understand, I’m glad that I can have candid conversations with these other people, especially when we politely end our talk agreeing to disagree.
Little by little I am reading that some places and activities are opening up across the country, including for what state leaders are calling “elective” medical procedures. Vaccines used to be elective. I’m not sure when that changed or when schools became the gatekeeper for them. But this year will be interesting to see if there’s an increase in reactions for school-age children. It would be a shame if millions of children, who’ve managed to survive a quarantine unscathed, fall ill to a liability-free medical product that comes with no guarantee but a lot of passes.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.