Most by now have heard the State of Maryland has required children in Prince George’s County be immunized or their parents will face a jail sentence and $50 fine every day they are out of compliance. The parents were directed to show up at the courthouse last Saturday and either have their child vaccinated on the spot or submit an exemption.
This has scared the you know what out of me! Not to mention enraged me and saddened me. But when I watched the State’s Attorney talk about the situation, it became clear this was really a case of semantics. Unfortunately all the hoopla was really about making a decision and complying with the state law. It wasn’t that the children weren’t vaccinated per say but that they did not file the proper exemption forms if that was their choice.
I know many will think I am nuts for saying this but I can understand if that is really what it is about. They want to have their records straight – either the children are vaccinated or their parents have filed an exemption. With no exemption filed, these parents are not complying with state law. Believe me, I am the first one to advocate our rights to an exemption but to just not comply was the problem.
The enraging part is the forced compliance and the lack of informed consent regarding parents’ legal rights. So basically the parents who were not in compliance were duped into vaccinating their children. But what would we expect? If the state law mandates all children be vaccinated for a specific disease, clearly they enacted this law because they believe it to be a good idea (or for more sinister reasons which are beyond my speculation). So, why would they then promote filing the exemptions? They wouldn’t because this would go against their goal of having all children vaccinated. Come now – has *any* doctor, school nurse, or other “official” *ever* offered up – “oh by the way, you don’t *have* to have these shots – you can file an exemption.” Probably not! We, as parents, uncovered it on our own. I dare say the majority of doctors out there don’t even know there are exemption laws!
However, the bottom line was – either have your child vaccinated or file your exemption – just don’t not comply. No one was saying you can’t file an exemption, your child has to be vaccinated. Just like they weren’t saying you can. They just weren’t saying it! That’s the dubious part. Of course I do not agree with their scare tactic method. But I can understand them wanting to have compliance – whether it be to be vaccinated or to file your exemption. And according to the state attorney (who seemed completely baffled that this was truly a big deal! – Duh!) they had tried several times to send messages home for compliance to no avail.
The conspiracy part of me believes this was a test run to see how far parents could be pushed. I also question if the school district would be as concerned if they weren’t in jeopardy of losing funding for reaching a certain vaccination compliance rate. And for those whose records were supposedly lost requiring they be revaccinated – that’s tragic as they were backed into a corner. Unfortunately the onus is on the parents to provide the documentation from medical records, not for the school to maintain those records (that’s a completely different discussion on its own because as I parent I would be furious if they lost the records). But as we all know with paperwork – keep your copies! Don’t just have your child vaccinated again because the school lost the records. Obtain copies of your child’s medical records! If you can’t get those, then file an exemption. (This would truly be a case where the parent is forced to either comply with the vaccine or file an erroneous exemption.)
Additionally, for those of us that put our guts up and filed our exemptions (in almost every case going against the grain), it is a cop out for those that just don’t vaccinate and don’t claim exemption. In my eyes, the more parents that file exemptions, the more it reinforces a larger consensus that vaccinating for some is not the best choice.