No Shots, No School, Not Really.
By Dawn Richardson, NVIC Director of Advocacy
It is back to school time and, once again, there is an epidemic of misinformation about school vaccine requirements.
We have received reports from around the country of schools and the media withholding information about the vaccine exemptions available to families in their state. All one has to do is insert the phrase “no shots no school” into their favorite internet search engine to see the problem for themselves.
When a school or the media uses the expression “No Shots No School,” they not only mislead the public by omission, they place the health and safety of children, who have had previous vaccine reactions or a family history of vaccine reactions, at risk. Misinformation about requirements and exemptions can cause a child, who could have been eligible for an exemption, to be vaccinated with sometimes tragic but preventable results.
Not all children are the same; not all diseases are the same; not all vaccines are the same and not all vaccines are safe, necessary or effective for all kids. One size does not fit all. All families deserve to be told the truth about their rights so they can make voluntary, informed vaccination decisions.
No Shots No School is NOT True
A more accurate expression would be “No Shots or No Exemption, No School”.
Recommendations for vaccine use are issued by the federal government (Centers for Disease Control) but vaccine requirements and exemptions are a matter of state law and, while they vary from state to state, all 50 states have them. It is important to know your legal rights.
•Medical Exemptions: all 50 states
•Religious Exemptions: 47 states
•Philosophical or Conscientious Belief Exemptions: 18 states
For detailed information on which vaccine exemptions are available in your state, please visit our Vaccine Laws and State Requirements web page.
We Need Your Help to Fix This Problem
1.Correct the Source - If you see a television newscast, newspaper article, hear a radio announcement or receive a notice from your child’s school containing misleading or incomplete information about vaccine requirements by failing to mention the availability of the vaccine exemptions applicable in your state, please take the two to three minutes to make a quick phone call or send a short email note politely informing them of their mistake or omission and request that they post or broadcast a correction.
Most of the time, the news stations don’t have this information or they are just taking information directly from press releases from pro-forced vaccination medical groups or the health department, where the vaccine exemption information may have been left out intentionally.
Sometimes, it can be helpful to explain that this is important because a child, who has already had a vaccine reaction or has a genetic susceptibility to reactions, may be eligible for a vaccine exemption but ends up being further vaccinated and harmed based on the misleading or incorrect content of their article or newscast.
It is important to be polite and articulate and to provide accurate information. These personal exchanges can and do sometimes shape how vaccine exemption information is represented by that media outlet in the future.
2.Hold Your School District Accountable - Check your school district web site and school registration materials to see if they have exemption information prominently displayed, along with school vaccine requirements. If not, please contact your superintendant’s office and request that they promptly change their web site and printed material to reflect the current state law. You can point them to the state vaccine exemption information on our web site.
Some states, like Texas and Colorado, even have vaccine exemption disclosure requirements in state law. In these instances, a school failing to disclose vaccine exemption information in certain circumstances may be in violation of state law.
3.Share This Information - Please share this information on email lists, social networking sites, blogs, and newsletters. Families deserve to be told the truth about their rights so they can make informed vaccination decisions.
4.Register today for the NVIC Advocacy Portal - Achieving and protecting the right to informed consent to vaccination is more important now than ever before and we need your help to make that happen. NVIC wants to help you, our members and supporters, to organize and make a difference in your home state right where you live to protect and expand vaccine exemptions.
When you register for the NVIC Advocacy Portal, you will be placed on an email list for your state and receive action alerts when your help with a letter or phone call is needed. You will also have access to your state team page, which displays your personal legislators’ contact information automatically, and also includes action alerts, legislative bills to watch and state and local announcements.
5.Share Your Success Stories - If you have a success story of getting the media or your school district to include or correct vaccine exemption information, please let us know through the Contact Page of the NVIC Advocacy Portal. Please include links and your contact information. We’d love to compile some of these success stories and share them. We have already heard of some great results in California and Texas!
If many people commit a few minutes at a time to become and stay involved, things can truly change for the better.
6.Report Harassment Stories - If you have been harassed in your state for trying to exercise voluntary, informed consent to vaccination for yourself or your child, please consider sharing your experience so others know they are not alone by posting what happened on NVIC’s Cry for Vaccine Freedom Wall.