In recent years, vaccine exemption laws have been under attack in a variety of states while vaccine registries have been on the rise. Vaccine exemptions have been restricted in California, Washington, and Vermont and attempts to restrict them have been seen in other states like Colorado, Texas, Oregon, and New Mexico. Over the same period, there has been legislation introduced in many of these states to extend vaccine registries from just children to all individuals in a state or to make it more difficult to stay out of the registry if so desired. At first blush, this type of information gathering might seem relatively benign, but is it so in practice? Is there not genuine potential for abuse and what are the ramifications if we allow this type of information gathering? It is not clear what is driving all this legislative activity or what might have spurred a rethink of existing state laws especially as these vaccine exemption laws have been on the books for many, many years, if not decades. It is noteworthy that all these states have something in common: they either lead the nation in rates of vaccine exemptions or they lead the nation for having experienced the largest increase in rates of vaccine exemptions in recent years.
Two CDC reports shed some light on the situation. On January 25th, 2013, CDC issued a report called “Progress in Immunization Information Systems”1. According to the report, Immunization Information Systems gather information from the states about vaccination records in order to “provide important tools for designing and sustaining effective immunization strategies”. The objective is to get 95% of children less than 6 years of age into the system. Why would CDC care so much about that? Surely, if vaccines are as safe and effective as they are purported to be then people must be more more than willing to get themselves and their children vaccinated, right? And if vaccines are as safe and effective as they are purported to be then surely the vaccine industry doesn’t need the government to help promote vaccines, do they? Nor do they need systems to track people’s behavior, right?
Perhaps the answer to those questions lies in a report issued by CDC in August of 2012. This report, “Vaccination Coverage Among Children in Kindergarten”, states CDC’s goal: “To identify areas of undervaccination for measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases, state and local health departments monitor compliance with school immunization requirements using annual school vaccination assessment reports, supported as a CDC immunization funding objective”.2 So not only does CDC want to identify areas of “undervaccination”, it is funding state programs to do so. And what kind of information has all this monitoring uncovered? The CDC report issued in August found that a whopping 35 of 50 states saw an increase in vaccine exemptions over the most recent two-year period. In states like Texas, New Mexico, and Idaho, exemptions jumped by over 1%, well above the national median increase of .2%.
How does the CDC program work? States are “grantees” of the program. State and local health departments monitor local vaccine uptake to identify “compliance” with school immunization requirements. (Compliance: “the act or process of complying to a desire, demand, proposal, or regimen or to coercion”.) This information begs several questions: why is the Federal government involving itself with something that falls under state jurisdiction, is the Federal government behind all these bills, exactly what information are the states giving the Federal government, and what are the states receiving in exchange for this information? It is also worth noting that Federal public health policy makers, vaccine makers, and vaccine proponents have openly expressed their desire to reduce or remove exemptions to vaccines which casts this proposed legislation in an even more worrying light.
As an aside, although CDC references 222 cases of measles in unvaccinated persons in 2011 as justification for this “monitoring”, CDC fails to mention the tens of thousands of pertussis (whooping cough) and mumps cases in fully vaccinated people in recent years. One has to question CDC’s motives when they focus on 222 measles cases in the face of tens of thousands of cases of what has been described in the medical literature as vaccine failure as it pertains to pertussis and mumps.3 The very clear failure of pertussis and mumps vaccines in recent years casts genuine doubt on the science and justification for our vaccine policies even without considering the side effects of the vaccines.
So how does CDC plan to use the information it gathers through vaccine registries? CDC says it uses the information for “identifying and addressing areas of undervaccination”. That makes it pretty clear: individuals in states make choices for themselves that run counter to the official dictates of Federal health authorities, in this case by choosing not to vaccinate, so Federal health authorities at CDC fund programs to identify those individuals and communities so they can “address” their independent choices. It is hard to conclude anything other than that CDC wants to track vaccine uptake in order to be able to target areas of noncompliance so that these areas may be brought into line.
The problem for Federal health authorities is that vaccine laws are state laws which means CDC must work behind the scenes to ensure compliance with Federal health guidelines. But why should we care about a little monitoring? Because this is exactly the kind of information that has been used to take children away from parents for alleged medical neglect, to summon children to school nurses offices and vaccinate them against parental wishes, to fire health care workers who refuse a vaccine and most importantly because it is private medical information. While information may seem benign on the surface, it ultimately transfers power to someone else who may just think they know better than you. Information, like knowledge, is power and in the case of vaccine registries it is being gathered with the ultimate goal of ensuring “compliance”. Compliance means encouraging, bullying or coercing you, in the most extreme case, to put something into your body that you don’t want to. There is nothing benign about that. Just a little food for thought.