In the past year, proposed legislation requiring vaccines for all children has skyrocketed. As of February 2019, over 100 bills were proposed across 30 states to amend vaccine requirements and rights. Through these bills, state and federal government seek to eliminate religious and philosophical exemptions, and limit medical exemptions.
On a Federal level, Representative Frederica Wilson (Democrat) of Florida’s 24th Congressional District introduced H.R. 2527 “Vaccinate All Children Act of 2019” on May 3, 2019. This bill proposes to “amend the Public Health Service Act to condition receipt by States (and political subdivisions and public entities of States) of preventive health services grants on the establishment of a State requirement for students in public elementary and secondary schools to be vaccinated in accordance with the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, and for other purposes.” This act does not provide for any religious or philosophical vaccines exemptions. A child with a medical exemption must provide written certification annually, in which the physician must “demonstrat[e] (to the satisfaction of the individual in charge of the health program at the student’s school) that the physician’s opinion conforms to the accepted standard of medical care.” There is no further explanation provided as to what constitutes a medical exemption the in the bill.
The conditions in a recipient that may warrant a medical exemption are referred to as “contraindications”. The CDC also recognizes “precautions” that should be taken and result in the delay of some vaccines. Unfortunately, these contraindications and precautions are often viewed as “temporary”, or are only present after an individual or immediate relative has already had an adverse reaction to a vaccine. For example, the CDC does not recommend vaccinating children with the MMR vaccine to “severely immunocompromised persons”. In another example, only after a child has suffered encephalopathy (i.e. brain injury) after receiving a pertussis vaccine does the CDC advise against the child receiving another dose of the vaccine. In many cases, for these children the damage is already done. It is common for children to experience less severe symptoms, such as fevers, from the first dose of vaccine, only to be forced to receive additional doses. The compounding affect can cause more severe injuries, immune deficiency disorders, and irreversible damage. This is why medical exemptions are often insufficient to protect children.