This isn’t a post about the pros and cons. It isn’t a debate for you should or shouldn’t. It’s a post to share one fact that the media isn’t.
Several years ago I was in the main office at my son's elementary school when a new family came in. After settling her kids in the chairs where I was sitting, the mom asked to speak to someone about the enrollment procedure. The young secretary, a twentysomething, showed and described the forms that would need to be filled out, signed and returned. When she got to the health history form, the secretary said that the school required a copy of the kids' shot records, too. I waited for her to add that vaccine exemptions could be accepted, but she neglected to share that information. The mom thanked her for her time and said she'd get started on the paperwork that day. "If I have any questions, I'll call you," she said. I had a question for the secretary, so when the family left, I walked up to the counter.
"Hey, I couldn't help but overhear what you said to that other mom about that health history form. Do you ever tell parents that they can submit an exemption, because that's part of the law, too?"
She said no.
I told her it would be a good idea to include that info. Not many people know that it's an option. I shared that since she's the one person fielding calls and inquiries about school enrollment procedures, she should cite the whole law.
I was happily surprised that she said she probably should tell people that.
These days, it isn't so much the vaccine laws that are being partly or wrongly cited; state mask policies are being wrongly cited.
WEAR A MASK
MASKED REQUIRED BY EVERYONE
KEEP MASKS ON AT ALL TIMES
DO YOUR PART!!
How about those sharing the mask information do their part, too?
Every policy I looked up had additional information that isn't getting broadcasted – a section or statement about mask exemptions. Like vaccines, not everyone can partake in what’s being asked. And like vaccines, governing bodies know this.
- Persons younger than two years old. These very young children must not wear a face covering because of the risk of suffocation.
- Persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents wearing a face covering. This includes persons with a medical condition for whom wearing a face covering could obstruct breathing or who are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a face covering without assistance.
- Persons who are hearing impaired, or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.
- Persons for whom wearing a face covering would create a risk to the person related to their work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.
- Persons who are obtaining a service involving the nose or face for which temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the service.
- Persons who are seated at a restaurant or other establishment that offers food or beverage service, while they are eating or drinking, provided that they are able to maintain a distance of at least six feet away from persons who are not members of the same household or residence.
- Persons who are engaged in outdoor work or recreation such as swimming, walking, hiking, bicycling, or running, when alone or with household members, and when they are able to maintain a distance of at least six feet from others.
There are some exemptions to the DOH order, including people with certain disabilities or health conditions, people who are deaf or hard of hearing, and children under the age of 2. (Officials encourage use of a face covering by children ages 3-5 if possible. Children 5 and older must wear a face covering.)
You do not need to wear a cloth face covering in your home when you are only with people in your household, or when you are alone in your car. You do not need to wear one when seated at a restaurant eating, or when you are outdoors and people are far apart.
If you have a health issue that makes you unable to tolerate a face covering, you do not need to wear one. This makes practicing physical distancing and hand hygiene even more essential.
The requirement to wear a face covering does not apply to following:
- While eating or drinking;
- Individuals exercising or using exercise equipment;
- Any person who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance;
- Any person seeking to communicate with the hearing impaired and for which the mouth needs to be visible;
- When temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to secure government or medical services; and
- Persons with health conditions that prohibit wearing a face covering. Nothing in this Order shall require the use of a face covering by any person for whom doing so would be contrary to his or her health or safety because of a medical condition.
Any person who declines to wear a face covering because of a medical condition shall not be required to produce or carry medical documentation verifying the stated condition nor shall the person be required to identify the precise underlying medical condition.
Exceptions and exemptions for masks exist.
The CDC has offered information on that fact as well:
CDC recognizes that wearing masks may not be possible in every situation or for some people. In some situations, wearing a mask may exacerbate a physical or mental health condition, lead to a medical emergency, or introduce significant safety concerns. Adaptations and alternatives should be considered whenever possible to increase the feasibility of wearing a mask or to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading if it is not possible to wear one.
Some people are excused from face coverings. So why are we seeing an increase in assaults toward those who are not and may not be able to wear them? I believe it can be helpful if someone wants to share why they can’t wear a mask. But I don’t believe that private information should be required to be divulged.
I'd hope that they’d be on the receiving end of some compassion. But that isn't happening. It isn’t happening in other countries Violence and disrespect is what those who cannot wear a mask are encountering instead. Seeing these types of stories reminded me of the condescending remark Nancy Snyderman, shared years ago on national TV when she assumed everyone could and should get the flu shot. “Just get your damn vaccine!” was her reply. Just wear your damn mask! is the new forced agenda.
Most of the time, the reason someone asks me about liability-free vaccines is because a medical person, or a school administrator, has left out some details, including an important part of the law out—the exemption information. Some people may not qualify for one, but they should be made aware that exemptions exist. I know I’d have less parents asking me for guidance if their doctor, school and the media would share that information. Those entities could fully inform the public on vaccine policies but haven’t done their part to help. That goes for sharing entire mask policies as well.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.