Colorado parents who choose not to vaccinate their kids are protesting against the state’s new non-medical immunization exemption form — and for good reason. Basically, anti-vaxxers have to submit the form to their child’s school and it pretty much amounts to admitting they have endangered their kid.
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While parents who use the medical exemption only have to submit the form once, parents who use the non-medical exemption have to submit it every year when their kids go back to school.
Part of the form reads: “Failure to follow the advice of a physician, registered nurse, physician’s assistant or public health official who has recommended vaccines may endanger my child’s/my health or life and others who come into contact with my child/me.”
According to state Senator and chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee Kevin Lundberg, the wording “amounts to compelled speech,” and he argues against the state trying to force parents to admit something they simply don’t believe is true.
Internet activism platform CitizenGO has launched an online petition urging Colorado’s governor, John Hickenlooper, and legislative leaders to “immediately modify these forms and regulations to protect the privacy and freedom of Colorado families.”
Wherever you stand on the vaccination debate, it’s difficult to support a process that puts a pro-vaccine agenda before free speech and parental rights. As it stands, the decision to immunize a child lies with their parents in accordance with the laws of their state. While some parents choose not to immunize because of medical concerns, such as their children’s existing health issues or disabilities, others seek a non-medical exemption, for example by stating that immunizations are in conflict with their religious beliefs or practices.
It’s not uncommon for parents to choose to immunize their children against some diseases, but not others. They may do extensive research, weigh up the pros and cons and make a fully-informed decision taking their child’s health and needs into account. Should these parents really have to sign a form affirming that they are endangering the life and health of that child? That’s the last thing these parents believe.
Such a statement could also amount to an admission that could be used against the parent in future civil or criminal proceedings. Refusing to vaccinate your children is something a lot of people simply can’t get their heads around. But it’s not a criminal offense. And it’s definitely not proof of a belief that non-vaccination is a risk.
According to the CDC, 95 percent of kindergarten children in the U.S. have been vaccinated against preventable diseases, including measles, mumps and rubella. That figure isn’t’ spread evenly across the country, and Colorado has the lowest level of vaccination (82 percent of Colorado kids have had the two-dose MMR vaccine that doctors say is necessary. By comparison, 99.7 percent of kindergarten kids in Mississippi are vaccinated).
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