Published June 23, 2016
“A rose is a rose is a rose,” said Gertrude Stein, but is a vaccine always a vaccine? Traditionally, the...
— William Wilberforce
With military precision, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced at an Aug. 27, 2015 press conference that national vaccination rates among young children in the U.S. continue to be very high but that more must be done to tag and track down children without every government recommended vaccine and publicly shame schools that fail to maintain a 95% plus vaccine coverage rate. Assistant Surgeon General Anne Schuchat, MD (RADM, USPHS) made the siren call to all states to require public and private schools to publicly post vaccine coverage and exemption rates.1
At the same time, Dr. Schuchat, who is a Rear Admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) and Director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, confirmed that CDC data indicates that less than one percent of children aged 19 to 36 months are unvaccinated, while fewer than 1.7% of children attending kindergarten during 2014-2015 had medical, religious or conscientious belief vaccine exemptions.2 3
As the CDC has reported for the past 30 years,4 there is a 94% national vaccine coverage rate for children entering kindergarten with five doses of pertussis containing vaccines (DTaP/DPT) and two doses of measles containing MMR vaccine. In addition to high uptake of measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccines, about 94% of kindergarten children have gotten two doses of varicella zoster (chickenpox) vaccine.
For children 19 to 36 months old, the estimate is nearly 95% for three doses of pertussis containing (DTaP/DPT) vaccines and over 91% for one dose of MMR vaccine, as well as at least 93% for three doses of polio and Hib (haemophilus influenza b) vaccines and about 92% for three doses of hepatitis B and pneumococcal vaccines.
Among the 16 states that have conscientious or philosophical belief vaccine exemptions for kindergarten children, six report vaccine coverage rates of 94-98% (Arizona, Louisiana, Michigan, Oregon, Texas and Utah). Of the 47 states that have a religious vaccine exemption, 20 report kindergarten vaccine coverage rates of 94-99%.
At the press conference, Dr. Schuchat admitted that when a parent files a vaccine exemption for a child entering school, it “doesn’t necessarily mean that a child didn’t get vaccinated or was completely unvaccinated.” She said, “an exemption might be requested for all vaccines, even if a child only missed a single vaccine or a single vaccine dose. In some states, a parent or guardian might actually claim an exemption if they don’t have the child’s vaccination record available.”
So the miniscule numbers of completely unvaccinated young children in the U.S. might be even tinier than CDC estimates. And, yet, those numbers are not tiny enough for Admiral Schuchat and the USPHS.5 6
Not satisfied with one of the highest child vaccination rates in the world, CDC officials are using tax dollars to find new ways to isolate, publicly identify and bully every family—and the schools and communities they live in—if they do not conform to one-size-fits-all government vaccine policies. One way is to incentivize states to use electronic medical record and vaccine tracking systems to publicly shame schools and their students with lower vaccination rates and higher personal belief vaccine exemption rates. In fact, the CDC has created a new national website just for that purpose.7
Some families have chronically ill and disabled children for whom the risks of vaccination turned out to be 100%, but parents cannot find a pediatrician to write their children a medical exemption. Most doctors are taught to believe that vaccines never cause permanent harm even though that is not true,8 and 99.99% of children do not qualify for a medical vaccine exemption under strict federal guidelines.9 10 11
The California Department of Public Health, which joined forces with the liability-free pharmaceutical and medical trade industries to lobby state legislators in 2015 to eliminate the personal belief vaccine exemption for school children,12 has followed the CDC’s directive and created a new state website featuring an interactive map using zip codes to post the following information about public and private kindergartens and middle schools (7th grade):13
But state health officials go one step further: they also “rate” the schools from “safest” to “most vulnerable” with the follow color coded rating system:
Green Star: Safest (95-100% of students fully vaccinated)
Yellow Star: Moderately vulnerable (90-94% of students fully vaccinated)
Orange Star: More Vulnerable (80-89% of students fully vaccinated)
Red Star: Most Vulnerable (less than 79.9% of students fully vaccinated)
Blue Star: Did Not Report in 2014-2015
Now, the public blaming and shunning of those schools with red stars and the children in them can begin.
If government health officials are going to violate the medical privacy of children and post detailed vaccination and exemption rates for schools, then parents should also have access to information about the total number of sick days reported in each school during the 2015-2016 school year due to illness.
With long standing vaccine safety research gaps and no credible studies comparing health outcome differences between highly vaccinated children and those receiving fewer or no vaccines,14 15 16 at least parents would have a way to identify which schools and student populations are actually healthier, not simply highly vaccinated.
In the question and answer period during the Aug. 27 CDC press conference, Admiral Schuchat made it clear to reporters that U.S. public health officials are going to do whatever it takes to make it “more difficult” for parents to exercise religious and conscientious belief vaccine exemptions. She said, “We know that the more difficult it is to obtain an exemption, the more—the fewer people will exempt their children from vaccines and we certainly think it should be easier to get a vaccine than to get an exemption from a required vaccination. So these policy decisions are made at the state level and we think that’s helpful because it will reflect the community or local values.”17
Apparently, government health officials are determined to impose their values and beliefs on anyone who does not share them, even if it means using fear and coercion to pit parents and schools and communities against each other in order to accomplish that goal. But the culture war on values and beliefs is being fought on an uneven battlefield, as the expanding financial partnership between government and the liability-free pharmaceutical industry carries with it the political clout and money to roll out national advertising and media campaigns targeting the unbelievers for demonization and discrimination.18
Annually, DHHS officials are given nearly one TRILLION taxpayer dollars by Congress, which is nearly twice the amount of money appropriated to the Department of Defense,19 but Congress provides little oversight on how public health officials spend that money or if they use it to violate the human and civil rights of citizens.
Government health officials partnering with industry have declared war on citizens exercising freedom of thought, speech and conscience, who question the safety and effectiveness of government vaccine policies and defend the human right to informed consent to medical risk taking.
Military strategies employed to win wars view casualties as necessary losses. Unfortunately, it appears that those waging the “take no prisoners” culture war view both the vaccine injured and human and civil rights as necessary losses.
It should not be illegal in America to have values and beliefs that differ from government health officials. Uniformed officials of the U.S. Public Health Service serve a vital role in protecting the public health and safety of our nation during real emergencies, but they have no business treating citizens who disagree with them like the enemy and persons of interest to be hunted down, isolated, publicly identified, discriminated against and punished.
This is a war that the American people cannot afford to lose. Even if you and your children use every government licensed and recommended vaccine today, you may change your mind tomorrow. You will not be free to do that if flexible medical, religious and conscientious belief vaccine exemptions are not secured in state and federal laws guaranteeing your legal right to make voluntary vaccine decisions.
1 CDC. Transcript for CDC Telebriefing: CDC officials to discuss vaccine exemption levels and infant vaccination coverage. CDC Newsroom Aug. 27, 2015.
2 CDC. National, State and Selected Local Area Vaccination Coverage Among Children Aged 19-36 Months – United States, 2014. Aug. 28, 2015: 64(33): 889-896.
3 CDC. Vaccination Coverage Among Children in Kindergarten – United States, 2014-15 School Year. Aug. 28, 2015: 64(33): 897-904.
4 Hinman A, Orenstein WA, Schuchat A. Vaccine Preventable Diseases, Immunization and MMWR 1961-2011. MMWR Oct. 7, 2011; 60(04): 49-57.
5 DHHS. Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service History. Sept. 25, 2014.
6 Public Health Service Commissioned Officers Foundation for the Advancement of Public Health: About Us.
7 CDC. National Childhood Vaccination Rates and State/Community Data Infographic and SchoolVaxView. Aug. 27, 2015.
8 Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA). Vaccine Injury Table. National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP).
9 CDC. Conditions Commonly Misperceived as Contraindications to Vaccination: Recommendations and Guidelines. Centers for Disease Control July 7, 2014.
10 Fisher BL. Blackmail and the Medical Vaccine Exemption. NVIC Newsletter Mar. 18, 2015.
11 NVIC. Cry for Vaccine Freedom Wall.
12 Richardson D. Fallout from California SB277: What Comes Next? NVIC Newsletter Aug. 5, 2015.
13 California Department of Public Health (CDPH). How Well-Vaccinated Is Your Child’s Kindergarten? How is Your School Doing? ShotsforSchool.org Aug. 26, 2015.
14 Institute of Medicine Vaccine Safety Committee. Adverse Events Associated with Childhood Vaccines: Evidence Bearing on Causality: Need for Research and Surveillance (p. 305-308). Washington, D.C. National Academy Press 1994.
15 Institute of Medicine Committee to Review Adverse Effects of Vaccines. Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality: Evaluating Biological Mechanisms of Adverse Events (p. 57-102) and Concluding Comments (p. 629-632). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press 2012.
16 Institute of Medicine Committee on the Assessment of Studies of Health Outcomes Related to the Recommended Childhood Immunization Schedule. The Childhood Immunization Schedule and Safety Stakeholder Concerns, Scientific Evidence and Future Studies: Summary: Health Outcomes (p. 5-6) and Conclusions About Scientific Findings (p. 11) and Review of Scientific Findings (p. 75-98). Washington, D.C. The National Academies Press 2013.
17 CDC. Transcript for CDC Telebriefing: CDC officials to discuss vaccine exemption levels and infant vaccination coverage. CDC Newsroom Aug. 27, 2015.
18 Fisher BL. The Vaccine Culture War in America: Are You Ready? NVIC Newsletter Mar. 8, 2015.
19 InsideGov.com. 2015 United States Budget Estimate By Agency: FY2015 Agency Spending.