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Attorney Deborah G. Stevenson, Executive Director
Bulletin #68 Another Reason To Homeschool Your Children? 07/10/09
Did you know? Mandatory swine flu vaccinations for school children may be implemented in your state come fall 2009.
Apparently, that’s what the federal government would like to see happen. On the website for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, (http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2009pres/07/20090709a.html) it was announced that the federal government is committed to “developing a national response framework and action plan” to prepare for a more serious outbreak of the swine flu in the fall.
Although the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website does not state that the vaccinations will be “mandatory”, it does say that the federal government is “partnering” with state and local governments in this effort. That’s primarily because the federal government inherently does not have any Constitutional authority to mandate that school children receive any vaccinations. That authority is a power that is left to the States and to the people pursuant to the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Over time, however, the people in most states have allowed their elected officials to implement state laws that do mandate vaccinations for school children. According to the Congressional Research Service, in a report released in 2005, http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/RS21414.pdf every state has a law requiring children to be vaccinated before they enrolled in a public or a private school. The report indicates that, generally, states use the federal government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s schedule of immunizations as a guide, and require children to be vaccinated against a number of diseases. While most states’ laws do provide for parents to exempt their children from mandatory vaccinations, the exemptions are very limited. The Congressional Research Service report also notes that, at least in 2005, there “did not appear to be any regulations regarding the implementation of a mandatory vaccination program at the federal level during a public health emergency.” It remains to be seen whether Congress will enact legislation, unconstitutional or not, that may change that situation.
For now, at least, it would appear that the federal government is relying on a more familiar technique to accomplish its goals. It is, once again, dangling federal tax dollars in front of state officials to get the states to do its bidding. The Health and Human Services Department website notes that the federal government will make available to the states “preparedness grants worth a total of $350 million” so the states can “step up” their “preparedness efforts.”
It is also highly interesting for parents to note that the Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, also indicated in news reports that “no final decision has been made on whether to vaccinate Americans” yet because it “depends largely on studies with experimental batches…[of the vaccine] to see if they’re safe and seem to work…” (Emphasis added).
Not to worry, though. She hopes that “all goes well”. If it does, she added, the federal government would buy the vaccine from manufacturers and share it among the states to get it to the “targeted population as soon as possible.” Whom did she say was first in line for the vaccine? School children, of course, would be first. In fact, the federal government’s Education Secretary Arne Duncan said, “Schools are natural places” to offer those vaccines.
As can be seen, some questions remain to be answered in this scenario, not the least of which is, “Will the vaccines be safe for your child?” It’s hard to find the answer to that question, although the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Inc. has on its website, some things to ponder. The website http://www.aapsonline.org/testimony/mandvac.htm contains a “Fact Sheet on Mandatory Vaccines”. Among the facts cited there are:
“The Centers for Disease Control admits that the reported number of adverse effects of vaccines is probably only 10% of actual adverse effects;”
“Rampant conflicts of interest in the approval process has been the subject of several Congressional hearings, and a recent Congressional report concluded that the pharmaceutical industry has indeed exerted undue influence on mandatory vaccine legislation toward its own financial interests;”
“The vaccine approval process has also been contaminated by flawed or incomplete clinical trials, and government officials have chosen to ignore negative results;” and
“Mandatory vaccines violate the medical ethic of informed consent. A case could also be made that mandates for vaccines by school districts and legislatures is the de facto practice of medicine without a license.”
Aside from the controversies surrounding the possibility of adverse side effects, the efficacy of the vaccine, and whether or not parents actually will be provided with sufficient information to offer informed consent, parents need to consider whether they will have any ability to consent, at all, before their children are required to receive the vaccine.
Before this fall, parents need to ask, “Is my state mandating that my child obtain the swine flu vaccine as a prerequisite to attending school? After all, the states already require children to receive other vaccinations as a prerequisite to attending school. Will the swine flu become just another one of the vaccinations already required?
An even better question to ask is, “Will the State be compelled to require children to receive the swine flu vaccine as a condition of the State receiving its share of the $350 million dollars that the federal government is providing to the States for swine flu preparedness?” That is the preferred method, to date, when the federal government wants to mandate the implementation of its will. Why wouldn’t the federal government utilize that same method when it comes to dictating what vaccinations your child will receive?
If the federal government does make such a deal with the States as a means to achieving its goal of having children vaccinated, what is a concerned parent to do? If a child cannot attend school, public or private, (private schools also already must comply with State imposed vaccination laws), without receiving the swine flu vaccination, and the parent objects to the child receiving the swine flu vaccine out of concern for possible adverse effects, the parent then either risks the child’s health, or risks the possibility of having the child be considered truant. Or, is there another solution? The answer to that is yes. At that point, the parent can choose to homeschool. Most state laws regarding vaccination only apply to children upon entrance to public and private school. They do not require children who are homeschooled to obtain those vaccinations. That’s because the purpose of vaccination of the population in public and private school is to stop the spread of the disease in that community where the children congregate in large numbers, and where it is more difficult to control the spread of germs and to maintain a clean environment.
The purpose of the vaccination no longer exists, however, at least not anywhere near to the same extent, when children are educated at home. Their numbers are smaller and their environment is easier to maintain in a relatively germ free manner. While normally homeschooled children are not recluses, in the midst of an epidemic there is no need to fear that they will either get, or spread, the infectious disease because the parents can regulate their contact with other children. Nor is there any need to fear that their education will suffer when their education takes place in the home in any case. Their parents likely will remain highly motivated to keep the children from exposure during the outbreak, while at the same time to continue their educational routine unabated.
While there are many diverse reasons why parents homeschool, and while it is still uncertain at this time whether swine flu vaccinations will become mandatory, come this fall, there may be one more very good reason why parents may choose to homeschool.
Attorney Deborah Stevenson - Executive Director of National Home Education Legal Defense – email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Judy Aron - Director of Research, NHELD – email@example.com