Janet Levatin, MD Holistic Pediatrician
It is late summer and school will be starting up soon. Parents have a lot to do, from buying their children school supplies and clothes, to taking them to the doctor for their school and sports physicals. For the typical American family, these visits often include vaccines.
By the time they enter kindergarten, the average child will be given the following vaccines: 5 doses of diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus; 2 doses of measles, mumps, rubella; 2 doses of varicella (chickenpox), and 6 doses of influenza vaccine (six months + annually). Doctors may also insist on giving other vaccines, such as hepatitis A or hepatitis B to complete the “schedule,” if any doses have been declined or “missed” in the past.
I have even heard stories about doctors who give two doses of the same vaccine on the same day in a misguided effort to update a child’s schedule. Even someone who agrees with vaccination should know that is ridiculous…. vaccines are given in series, not as multiple doses at the same time.
For 7th grade students, there is also a “requirement” for a Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) booster. This year there are new “requirements” for 7th through 12th-grade students for meningococcal vaccine (covering serogroups A, C, W, and Y).
I put the word requirement in quotation marks because if one knows the law, one knows that these are not actually requirements. In Ohio, parents can decline vaccines “for reasons of conscience, including religious convictions.” This fact is not disclosed by most schools or school districts.
I have seen many different versions of schools and school districts here in Ohio obscuring the truth about vaccine “requirements” when they communicate with parents. I have no doubt that similar shenanigans are going on in other states as well.
Most schools are sending out notices saying that children will not be admitted to 7th grade unless they have received the Tdap and meningitis vaccines. Even parents who have been declining vaccines for years may become confused and wonder if the law has changed. Some schools, when confronted, have revised their notices and inform parents that they have a right to decline vaccines. Others have said that they have no legal obligation to inform parents of their right to decline and that they prefer to keep parents in the dark because of their (the school’s) goal of achieving the highest vaccination rates possible.
Some schools have published waiver forms that ask parents to state their religion on the form. This is definitely NOT a requirement. Parents do not need to disclose their religion; in fact, I encourage parents to NOT disclose their religion. In line with US Supreme Court opinion, most state religious waiver laws are nonsectarian and do not require one to be any particular religion to say no to vaccines. Your religion is none of the school’s business and you’d don’t need to report it to them.
Other schools have forms they ask parents to sign that ask to parents acknowledge that declining vaccines may injure their children or others. Asking parents to sign this type of form is attempted coercion and, if signed, creates a dangerous paper trail. I also encourage parents to NOT sign any such statement.
One other variation I have seen is a school providing a parental waiver form that states that the school may override the state law and administer vaccines if they choose. Since when can a school or school district supersede state law?? Needless to say, I encourage parents to NOT sign off on this statement either!
For additional information, Dr. Sherri Tenpenny wrote a detailed article about the problems with the meningitis vaccine and the lies Ohio parents are being told about its “requirement.” You can find that article here.
It is up to citizens to take charge and get informed when it comes to state laws and regulations. Parents, please know your rights and assert them when you must. The health, and possibly even the life, of your children are at stake.