First off, I don’t follow the news much. And that’s a flaw in my character aggravated by working multiple jobs, trying to spend as much time with my family as possible and having a generally low opinion on the quality of mainstream journalism and the inability of many blog sites to be able to separate and state clearly the difference between fact and opinion.
So I was caught by surprise this weekend by a number of irate parents talking about a new California law that will make mandatory vaccination, well, mandatory. Kids who don’t vaccinate will not be allowed to attend public OR private schools.
It’s true that a recent modification to the law will allow for home-schooling which is not really helpful when, in a family like mine, both parents work full time jobs and don’t have other family members who can home-school them.
But this also got amended so that the home schooling option doesn’t have to be all members of the same family. So essentially what’s going to happen if this law goes through is that hundreds of small “private home schools” are going to spring up to cater to like-minded parents who don’t want to vaccinate their children OR WHO WANT TO VACCINATE SELECTIVELY.
After hunting around on the internet for about 30 minutes I was finally able to locate the bill, surprisingly, by going to the opposition’s website: http://www.sb277.org/
You can find the bill here: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160SB277
You don’t have to read the full thing if you don’t want to, but please at least ensure you have read this much of it so we can have a conversation grounded in facts:
Section 120325 of the Health and Safety Code is amended to read:
There is so much noise about this bill it becomes extremely hard to separate fact from fiction and opinion even after dedicated searching on the internet for reliable sources. But after finally reading through dozens and dozens of pages for and against this law and reading through the law several times I’ve made a few of my own conclusions and the reasons why I personally would oppose this bill as it is currently written.
WHAT’S RIGHT ABOUT SB-277, IN A NUTSHELL
Here is the fundamental rightness with SB-277 and the party line everyone pushing the bill continually falls back on: It wants to ensure the healthiest environment possible for our children in the area where they congregate most frequently, our children’s schools.
And you know what? I think that parents who have weighed the pros and cons on the matter and have decided for vaccination, should have the right to put their kids in a school which has compulsorily vaccinated children. If they honestly feel that for the health of their child it’s the way to go, then let them have it.
But not at the cost of rights to parents who don’t want their children vaccinated.
It’s a genuinely humane purpose to ensure kids are in the healthiest environment possible in mandatory attendance environments. I support that idea. And it’s really trying to deal with law two very big problems we face as parents:
1. Other parents who bring sick children to school because they can’t or don’t want to solve them staying at home (and I don’t care what their excuse, it’s absolutely unethical), in the hopes that the child won’t be detected as ill.
2. And even when you have parents who would never let their kids go to school sick, most preventable illnesses that our kids get are already very contagious by the time they can be detected visually and properly diagnosed. So it’s often too late to keep them back from school before the damage is done anyways.
But SB-277 comes with a major problem: there is no room in it for true democracy. And that’s a problem when you live in a country founded upon democratic principles.
And I think (opinion) if you were to actually assemble every parent in this nation and ask them the question: “Should every parent be forced to have their child injected with something which is not 100% proven to be safe as a mandatory requirement for that child to receive public education?”, that the majority of parents would vote no, even if the politicians that they elected would vote yes.
But it’s not an easy choice because none of us want a kid who has whooping cough left in school by a parent that couldn’t cope with having their child stay at home.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH SB-277, IN A NUTSHELL.
There are two fundamental flaws in SB-277. The first, however, being the most egregious and what MUST change for the law to be a democratic law: SB-277 gives parents and schools no choice on the matter. And that’s not right no matter how you try to phrase it.
The second problem is a couple of little kickers of lines in the law itself:
(11) Any other disease deemed appropriate by the department, taking into consideration the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians.
(e) Incentives to public health authorities to design innovative and creative programs that will promote and achieve full and timely immunization of children.
At the very least schools should be given the right to have a vote with the parents whose children are in attendance to see if they approve children attending who either have not had vaccinations or who have been selectively vaccinated. That way at least there is recourse and like-minded educators and parents can have their children associate and get educated. And parents who don’t want their kids hanging out with kids who haven’t been vaccinated can go to schools that are vaccination mandatory. It’s really that simple.
And other than the complete lack of freedom of choice, it’s that lack of clarity in a law, those gray areas that really scare me. “Any other disease” as voted on by people that 99.9999% of the population don’t know and for sure haven’t examined our children, so why should they be given the power of law over my child? I’d be more comfortable if that choice and power were given to the licensed family doctor of the individual child.
And that one little statement: “Incentives to public health authorities…” Not that huge corporations have ever been caught bribing politicians, doctors, scientists and other people to forward their own agendas, but in case it could possibly happen, I would want a law that didn’t seem to tempt it so heavily.
Look, only the truly evil and insane wish for children to become sick, crippled or injured. Unfortunately such people exist and find ways to profit off tragedy or create panic over the potential for such tragedy so that they can reap the benefits. And if you want to try and tell me that such people don’t exist… well. That’s either a pretty sheltered view of the world or you are one of them. Case in point, a celebrity friend of mine recently had a well-paying job cancelled because he publicly opposed mandatory vaccination. Unfortunately the client who was paying him to do the ads had large investors who were all big Pharma and weren’t too happy about it.
SHOULD YOU VACCINATE YOUR CHILD?
To vaccinate or not, that is the question before us.
It has become such a charged subject that these days asking people if they are for or against vaccination is like how it was to ask if people were for or against other matters where choice was involved a few years ago. I know, I know. That’s a heavy statement. But it’s true. You can really lose friends and associates rapidly depending on your answer. Parents who no longer invite you to playdates and so on.
Only the uneducated believe that vaccines are 100% safe. And only the uneducated believe that not taking vaccines is 100% safe.
You know why? Very few things in life are 100% safe. Driving your kid to school isn’t 100% safe. But that’s just life. We, as individuals and parents, have to do our best to make choices that minimize risk so that our children grow up in the best manner possible.
What if you gave your child a vaccination and they got extremely ill, crippled or even died? What would your reaction be? It’s terrible to contemplate.
But what if you didn’t vaccinate your child and they got a disease which it would’ve prevented and they wound up crippled, scarred for life or dead? How would you feel knowing that you could’ve prevented it?
It’s tough to be faced with that scenario, and yet every single parent is and must make that choice for their child and take responsibility for having made that choice.
Here is something that only parents really, truly understand: being a parent is the hardest job in the world. It isn’t 9-5, it isn’t 5 days a week, you can’t quit it (even if some think they can) and perhaps most painfully: every decision you make (especially in the youngest years of your children) can have a profound and lasting impact on your child’s life. Parents have to make tough calls. Frequently. And it weighs heavily on our souls.
Whether or not to vaccinate is one of them. I can imagine for some people that not having to make that choice is a relief, because then they have someone to blame. And that’s important to a lot of people unfortunately, but it won’t take away the pain of the consequences. So what do you do?
You have to educate yourself and understand the risks either way and choose what you feel is going to be best for your child.
Vaccination is simply about building up resistance to disease. No vaccine can state with 100% certainty that it can fully prevent it with no side-effects. But if you look at the amount of plague and true epidemics since the introduction of vaccination a lot can be said for it. As well as general cleanliness and improved living conditions.
Some people want their kids to build up natural immunity. When I grew up, whenever someone had chicken pox, all the kids in the neighborhood would go visit that house to get it over with.
I never got vaccinated, I’m alive and healthy 39 years later. My parents made that choice and I did okay.
A lot of people ask me what my stance on vaccination is: I choose to selectively vaccinate. There are some things that I feel are ridiculous to vaccinate against and others which make sense to me. But I also ensure that the vaccinations are fresh and mercury free. Why? Find out for yourself. Research a little. Get educated, that’s your job as a parent.
It sucks to have to make a life or death choice when it comes to your child. But you make them every day. You have figured out that it’s a good idea to ensure they have their seatbelts on, that they can’t get to the laundry detergent or the medicine cabinet, that they aren’t climbing up to tall a tree.
It’s life. You make your bet and you take your chances.
And if you don’t want to have to make the choice on vaccinations and the hundreds of other life or death decisions a parent is forced to make then it is simple: Don’t have a child.
HOW TO MAKE SB-277 WORK
There are a lot of other issues surrounding the subject and consequences of vaccination, but as far as SB-277 is concerned, the two fatal flaws which must be addressed for it to be a responsible law are:
1. Allow for freedom of choice and give schools/communities the power to decide democratically on the matter of whether a school must adhere to compulsory vaccination. It will mean that some schools will require 100% vaccination and for parents who want it, that will make them happy.
2. Remove the opportunity for government corruption and corporate greed contained in the gray areas and give the power of decision to the individual child’s doctor and their parents.
For what it’s worth, that’s my opinion on the matter.