One of the biggest casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the educational system. In the fall when school starts, most elementary, middle and high schools as well as colleges and universities will continue with the online learning approach they embraced when COVID-19 emerged.
There are many factors to consider when deciding whether in-person or online education should be used. One of the most obvious is that classmates are not exposed to any viruses their peers may be carrying.
That’s why it’s such a shock to see that Virginia and some other states are now requiring vaccinations for students to even register for school: Why should shots be mandated if school is totally online and conducted at home?1 This is the latest in a long line of efforts to remove the rights of parents and children to refuse vaccines.
Conflicting Demands Put Parents in a Quandary
Public support for vaccination has fallen, and this began long before COVID-19. According to a Gallup Poll from January 2020, only 84% of Americans agreed that vaccinations were important, compared to 94% in 2001.2 The pandemic has further affected compliance rates due to stay-at-home orders and the difficulty in getting a regular doctor’s appointment during shutdowns — most clinics are operating virtually by use of telemedicine.
According to NBC news, families admit they haven’t brought their children to the doctor for shots because “… they’re worried about exposure to COVID in a hospital or clinic …” and that “… the CDC says this is a problem across the country right now.”3
According to an Alexandria, Virginia, news source, pediatricians say immunization rates are down 30% to 76% in comparison to rates before the pandemic, because, like the Gallup Poll found, “… well-child visits were being conducted virtually.”4 Health officials, however, don’t see that as an excuse and have expressed renewed interest in mandatory shots for all children and adults:
“‘At a time when our healthcare system is already overwhelmed with COVID19, it is important that we avoid outbreaks of preventable deadly diseases,’ said Cindy Edwards, Senior Administrator for Communicable Disease And Epidemiology. ‘That is why we encourage Montgomery County families to reach out to your doctor and make a plan for staying up to date with recommended vaccines.'”
Texas officials agreed. Parents not vaccinating their children is “a terrifying trend for health leaders,” said Martha Groomer, supervisor at San Antonio’s Metro Health Immunization Clinic. “We don’t want to have a pandemic and then have some epidemics alongside it.”5
It’s ironic that after directing people to stay home and isolate during the pandemic, parents are now being blamed for not vaccinating their children.
Vaccine Inducements and Legal Maneuvers
According to the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), one of the most reputable organizations that helps people make informed decisions about vaccination, 49 doses of 14 vaccines are required by age 6 and 69 doses of 16 vaccines are required by the time a child is 18.6
Vaccine makers and pediatricians enjoy great profits from these mandates, and the NVIC has reported many times on how vaccine lobbies are steadily pushing mass vaccination and chipping away at informed consent.
To induce parents to vaccinate, free shots have been offered in the past in certain Virginia counties.7 This year, because of COVID-19, the conditions for receiving them will be different:8
“To minimize exposure risk, the health department will adhere to strict safety protocols, including limiting the number of appointments per site, requiring the wearing of face coverings, and ensuring appropriate social distancing measures are in place …” said Tina Dale, communications specialist with the Fairfax County Health Department in Virginia.
Cara O’Donnell, from the Arlington, Virginia, Department of Human Services, added that they were also trying to schedule catch-up vaccinations for students who didn’t get their shots on schedule during the pandemic shut down.
NVIC Works to Protect Your Right to Consent
All states in the U.S. and the District of Columbia mandate vaccines for students to attend public schools. However, exemptions are also permitted, mostly for medical reasons.9 The NVIC maintains a current list of state laws and vaccine exemptions for each state on its website, and works actively to protect your right to be informed about the risks and benefits of vaccines, and to maintain your right to choose and consent to any vaccine.10
According to Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of NVIC, an anti-exemptions campaign began almost a decade ago when liability protection given to vaccine companies through Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court was used to embolden its mass vaccination agenda. In a special interview with me, Fisher talked about how those legal maneuvers took away your right to sue a vaccine manufacturer if you are injured by their product:
“We fought … so hard to try to get protection from them completely eliminating all liability for the vaccine companies in 1986, but Congress ended up giving them a partial liability shield. However, Congress did not give them a shield from design defect lawsuits, that is failure to make a vaccine safer.
That didn’t happen until 2011 when the U.S. Supreme Court in Bruesewitz v. Wyatt eliminated the design defect liability that the companies had. At this point, you can’t really sue the companies. It was really after 2011 that the pharma, medical trade and public health lobby started to go into the states and try to take away all the exemptions because there was really no more liability for these companies.”
After that, states methodically began introducing legislation to eliminate exemptions, or as in the case of a measles outbreak in New York in 2019, the state took away religious exemptions for vaccinations, claiming they were interpreted over-broadly.11
One argument health officials use to mandate vaccines for school attendance is that they are supposed to offer protection from disease in a closed setting, where infection may be more likely to spread. However, viewed from the perspective of civil liberties, forcing vaccinations on students who are not physically present in school is yet another example of the ongoing erosion of our rights.
Schools Have Become Ground Zero for Forced Vaccinations
In 2019, it was clear that schools had become the epicenter of battles over vaccine exemptions, parental notification and informed consent. According to the NVIC, 22 bills in 17 states12 were presented to eliminate vaccine exemptions, though most failed to pass.
Meanwhile, a number of bills were also introduced to expand informed consent, showing that vaccine safety and consent issues have reached the general public. Examples of bills that sought to eliminate exemptions included:13
“Maine LD 798 [which] eliminated both the religious and philosophical exemptions and goes into effect September 1, 2021 … [and] New York A 2371A [which] eliminated the religious exemption in one day with no public hearings and the law goes into effect immediately leaving only a restrictive medical exemption …
Washington EHB 1638 eliminated personal and philosophical exemptions to MMR vaccines only, leaving philosophical exemptions for all other vaccines and religious and medical exemptions for all vaccines including MMR as of July 28, 2019.”
Other school-related bills pushed by vaccine industry lobbyists would allow minors to consent to some or all vaccines without their parents’ knowledge or approval. A bill in Connecticut would have bypassed parents and allowed minors to consent to HPV vaccines, and bills in New York would have allowed minors to consent to vaccines for sexually transmitted diseases. Bills in other states would allow youths to consent to other vaccines without their parents knowing.
Another tactic used by vaccine industry lobbyists has to do with attempting to incite public shaming against unvaccinated individuals. According to NVIC:
“One way that vaccine industry lobbyists place disruptive pressure on schools allowing students to enroll with vaccine exemptions is to lobby to pass legislation that requires individual schools to publish vaccination and vaccine exemption rates and publicly post that information online.
These bills are promoted under the guise of educating parents, but they are really about government-sponsored shaming that pits school against school and parent against parent for the purpose of marginalizing and increasing peer pressure on families whose children have vaccine exemptions.”
Mainstream media can then use this information to build public sentiment against the schools and against vaccine exemptions in general. In some cases, news outlets are funded by the pro-vaccine foundations of billionaires, says NVIC:
“Some of these media companies, like the Texas Tribune, are funded heavily by organizations that support mass vaccination like the $1.7 million dollars the Tribune received from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Other publications utilize paid content … to take in money from businesses willing to pay for “articles” discrediting families … declining vaccines.”
Mandated Vaccines for Online School Are Latest Rights Erosion
The state of Virginia’s most recent mandate is the latest assault on civil liberties and informed consent. The encroachment upon these rights by Big Pharma, mainstream medicine and the public health lobby is becoming more of an issue with talk of a vaccine for COVID-19 in the future and NVIC expects that the vaccine industry will step up lobbying efforts to restrict or remove vaccine exemptions.
If you would like more information on this topic, be sure to visit the NVIC website, become a registered user of the NVIC Advocacy Portal and check in often to learn about ways to personally educate your legislators when vaccine bills that affect your rights are moving in your state.
Please encourage your family and all of your friends to do the same. If you see inaccurate information in the media, please take the time to respond by making a constructive comment online. You can also email the journalist or call the media outlet and provide accurate, well-referenced diseases and vaccines information and accurate state vaccine law information, which you can find on our website NVIC.org.