Letter: Medical Freedom of Choice
To the Editor:
This is in response to the March 3 Perspectives piece by Helena Rho, “Vaccine Exemption Puts Vermont Children at Risk,” which was originally published by Slate as, “What’s the Matter With Vermont?”
It is too bad the Valley News changed the headline, because in many respects, Rho’s article is not about what’s wrong, but what is clearly right about Vermont. Vermonters are intensely proud and protective of our citizen legislature, and we should be. Thankfully, democracy and liberty are alive and well in the Green Mountain State.
Last year, a bill was proposed to eliminate the right of Vermont parents to claim a philosophical exemption to mandatory vaccines — a proposal that came on the heels of a massive anti-corporate personhood movement that swept Vermont. Proponents of eliminating that exemption argued that vaccination rates were plummeting, when actually they were on the rise. The argument was that the plummeting vaccination rates may lead to outbreaks of whooping cough, when actually outbreaks have not been linked to exemptions. Unpaid citizen advocates took many days off from work to go to the Statehouse and explain that the right to decline even one out of the 56 shots now required for minors is critical in any society that values fundamental human rights
Curious how the messages get all mixed up when there is money involved. But Vermonters can see though a ruse. If the pertussis vaccine is not working as planned, more underperforming product is not going to fix the problem.
The Vermont Coalition for Vaccine Choice was formed last year in response to the growing threat being posed to parental and human rights to make medical choices. We advocate for informed consent and full disclosure of the risks of vaccination as with any other medical procedure. The result of our work was an overwhelming 133-6 vote in the 2012 Vermont House to keep vaccine exemptions — and thus to preserve our medical freedom of choice.