I am a 36-year-old mother of two children closely following this House Bill 5044 to remove religious exemptions to vaccines, and I have some questions I feel need solid, peer-reviewed answers before this proposal is allowed to go any further.
First, when does a non-vaccinated person become a threat to others?
I’ve been told it is important to vaccinate to protect those who can’t be vaccinated (which is currently a very small group, considering the recommended schedule starts injecting children on the day of their birth and even HIV and immunosuppression are no longer contraindications according to the CDC), but what is protecting them from each other?
Why was it fine for my oldest to go in and out of the pediatrician’s office every few weeks the first year of life without concern, despite the possibility that we could have been exposed to and spread a “vaccine preventable disease” at any time, but as soon as the baby turned a year old and I declined the first MMR, I was informed my child would need to wear a mask if we ever came to the office for a fever and rash?
Are infants less capable of catching and spreading infection? What happens at 365 days old that takes them from needing to be protected from those around them to being a threat to those around them?
Infants as young as six weeks old attend our daycare center. How is it that a 2-year-old in a daycare center is a threat to classmates but non-vaccinated babies are not?
Are children a public health threat before they are old enough to get vaccines, or not until they are old enough? What about after one vaccine in a series? Are persons safe to be around then, or not until the full series is on board? Should we be concerned with children potentially passing around HPV or meningococcus until they are in middle school? How is it okay to not get the HPV or flu vaccines now, and attend school, but if they are added to the schedule in the future, refusing will mean being kicked out? Why is it okay to be in school until age 11 but not okay after that if a child doesn’t get another injection? What is the point at which someone is “safe” to be around? How can we be sure?
Are children who have not received vaccines more of a concern than those who have but did not launch an immune response? Is that percentage of essentially non-vaccinated students a threat as well? What about when the early vaccines wear off? Wouldn’t a high school student who no longer has titers for measles or pertussis be as unwanted in school as a student who never received the MMR? Aren’t the teachers, who received fewer vaccines in a more distant past, just as likely to be compromising the so-called herd immunity? Why will these persons be allowed to attend classes and community activities but not my children who are at least as healthy as their peers, if not more so?
Furthermore, what example does it set to be constantly reminding our children the values of choice, consent, and bodily autonomy, only to then manipulate and coerce them and their parents into accepting medical interventions that are not medically necessary but merely based on the possibility of a future situation? There is no other prophylactic required to be a decent parent, provided we seek treatment should one fail.
There are thousands of infections, many of them far more common than any of the infections we vaccinate against, all of which pose serious threat to the immunocompromised, so why we are talking about kicking kids out of school over a handful that not only are exceedingly rare in our country or almost always minor, but that are known to infect both vaccinated and non-vaccinated persons?
Exemptions for vaccines have been around as long as vaccines themselves. There was no push in the 80s and 90s to remove these exemptions when vaccine rates were much lower and infection rates much higher. If there was no public health threat then, how can there possibly be one now?
Finally, the Connecticut Constitution says there is no government without the people’s consent to be governed. Medical providers preach informed consent. As a parent, it is my job to make decisions for my children, to weigh risk and benefit, and to keep them safe from whatever threats may come while preparing them to make those decisions for themselves in the future.
As a wise man recently said (essentially), “This is not how you get higher vaccination rates. This is how you get a revolution.”
Jessica Guglielmo lives in Middlefield.