NEW YORK CITY, NY — The New York City Board of Health unanimously approved a mandate requiring all children enrolled in preschools under 5 years old to receive a flu vaccine. In one of Mayor Bloomberg’s final mandates as mayor, he will increase the number of pharmaceutical drugs forced on children.
The amendments were found in Article 43 (School-Based Programs for Children Ages Three Through Five) and Article 47 (Day Care Services) of the New York City Health Code, found in Title 24 of the Rules of the City of New York.
So why is Police State USA coming out on the side of “Your kids—you call the shots”? For a lot of reasons— reasons like rights, ethics and science. The latter isn’t necessary for arguing the first two points, though it does turn out to be useful for illustrating them.
As blogger Matt Walsh phrased it in a post entitled I am a Biological Terrorist Because My Kids Didn’t Get a Vaccine:
You see, about a year ago my wife and I conspired to conceive children. I won’t go into detail about the steps we took to bring this plot to fruition, but suffice it to say that our plan succeeded. Now, as the result of this dastardly scheme, we are “parents”. This parental title has dangerous implications; it gives us the terrifying ability to do all sorts of things. For instance, most horrifically, we can make decisions about our kids’ well being and health care without conferring with the public, the government, the community, society, even you…. If you want to convince people like me — that is, people who aren’t terribly worried about gaining the approval of the peanut gallery — you best abandon the “get vaccines for the sake of the collective” argument. Call me selfish or narcissistic, but I don’t parent my children based on what I think my neighbors might want me to do. Parenting isn’t a democracy. It isn’t up for a vote. Never in a thousand years would I force my children to undergo a medical procedure simply for the sake of being a cultural team player. If you see it that way, please email me the next time you take your kid to the orthodontist. I’m going to need a vote before you make any decisions about braces or retainers.
Our goal should be achieving a free and voluntary society. This is not actually an “anti-government” position, though considering the increasingly cramped state of civil rights in America, it probably sounds that way. But whether referring to the Enlightenment era “anarcho” leftist libertarianism or modern American libertarian views, the idea is that government must at all times justify itself. It doesn’t matter what size government you prefer or what economic system you think should be in place; if you’re for a free and voluntary society, you’re concerned about civil liberties and consumer freedom.
It would seem evident then that compulsory mass-medication of children instantly fails the “free and voluntary” test. Secondly, imposing a mandatory drug regimen on private centers of any kind is the sort of involuntary measure that a free society would not tolerate. Furthermore, one should also be asking what makes it right for government to prop up and subsidize one industry or one alternative over others. These are all valid pro-liberty reasons to not support the government in its endeavors of being an aggressive pharmaceutical salesman with lots of guns.
Even if there is one clear method of treatment that outshines the rest, it is not right for the government to push us, force us, or pay us to choose one alternative or another. Government should be an impartial referee, not a cheerleader. As individuals, we should be left to our own determination about what health care options we pursue.
But aren’t vaccines meant to protect not just the individual but also other people, such as children too young to be vaccinated or those too immune compromised to receive them?
The “greater good” and “protecting children” are the main themes promoters of compulsory vaccines cling to, including the many pharmaceutical astroturf operations cranking out media pundits to speak for the cause and hordes of independent-pretending viral marketers who clog media comment sections. The problem is, who decides any of it? The concept of the “greater good” itself automatically implies the existence of something “great” that must be pushed aside to make way for the thing that is “greater,” and, in Platonic terms, this is always the individual. Plato wasn’t the godfather of totalitarianism for nothing. He also thought we should heave defective children off cliffs and that the state should raise the rest.
Immunization against disease is a great concept. But ideas in theory and in practice are often quite disconnected. The concept of vaccinating against deadly disease and the actual administration of vaccines is as different as “music” is to the music industry. Probably the only interesting moment in the ongoing pseudo-scandal over the former Hannah Montana’s VMA twekrathon was when singer Sinead O’Connor piped in with a few choice words for the music industry, the people who work in it and associated media. “Animals and less than animals,” “evil,” pimping (it’s implied), “mother*ckers.”
Clearly Sinead O’Connor is “anti-music” since she despises the industry that generates most of it. Her quarter century campaign of destruction shows no sign of abating.
Get it? You can be “pro” anything, in fact a towering virtuoso in it, while not necessarily worshiping the institutions that peddle it.
And this is because, no matter how pure the stated purpose, no institution — art, religion, science, governance, whatever — is “immune” to corruption or incompetence.
Government, the pharmaceutical industry, and commercial science organizations are made up of human beings. Contrary to what these entities might publicize about themselves, they don’t actually harbor higher castes of humans but your run of the mill monkeys in wingtips and lab coats. If you’re religious, call it “original sin” — same thing. But if you believe in some transcendently evolved fraternity who should by rights command the strings of life and death thus to lead the rest of us turkeys to earthly utopia, it’s because you presume yourself a member of that shining order or you’re the follower of cults. Either way, you’re not keen on civil liberties.
Higher fields of learning aren’t exempt. For practical purposes, the number of abbreviations behind someone’s name has no bearing on how ethical they are as a sin-prone human. Education teaches skills, knowledge and problem solving which may be morally neutral.
Despite today’s ethical guidelines on science, there’s the problem of enforcement: government regulators are captured by the very industries they’re assigned to regulate via various channels, including revolving door employment practices between government and industry. For instance, the former head of the Center for Disease Control, Dr. Julie Gerberding, is now the head of Merck’s vaccine division.
Another considerable conflict is the fact that the CDC’s is charged with both monitoring disease as well as promoting vaccines. Take the yearly flu mortality figures the CDC has reported for as long as anyone can remember– between 36,000. and 47,000. Now look at the real numbers covering the same years (Source: the American Heart and Lung Association)
The table shows that the average number of flu deaths over the course of 27 years was actually well under 1,300, with child deaths making up the smallest cohort. Could the the agency’s built-in conflicts and the revolving door factor explain why the CDC has exaggerated flu mortality by up to 183-fold? The agency has attempted to explain away the disparity by arguing that some people who died from the effects of flu suffered lingering decline and no longer had the flu at the time they shuffled off the mortal coil. It’s just odd that, despite the massive flu shot campaign and high uptake, those “36K- 47K” figures haven’t budged in more than a decade. Taking the CDC at their iffy word, it would appear that flu vaccines have done nothing to improve mortality. A review of the existing science on flu shot effectiveness by the Cochrane Collaboration, one of the most highly respected healthcare monitoring organizations in the world, found no evidence that flu vaccines prevented viral transmission in healthy adults (so much for “herd immunity” and vaccinating for the sake of the collective); and no evidence showing the vaccine reduced complications from the flu. Furthermore, the review stated that only industry-funded studies appear to find the vaccine particularly beneficial. As it happens, the vaccine studies which the CDC relies on are overwhelmingly industry-funded.
There should certainly be more firewalls between government and industry interests than currently exist. But no matter how many are erected, they will always be eventually be breached. Disinfecting regulators and the beltway of industry taint is a bit like Sisyphus rolling his rock: a really worthy effort with an eternal rinse-repeat clause. In the meantime, the simple answer is to allow consumers to make the choice of what drugs or biologics to put in to their own or their children’s bodies.
So there’s that. Consent is critical in the practice of medicine and public health. Then there’s the science. Again, scientific evidence isn’t necessary to arguing for consent in medical treatment but it is the typical modern diversionary tactic– even if, on that score, it doesn’t hold up. This doesn’t merely apply to flu vaccines.
The 2010 “outbreak” of pertussis, widely reported to have killed several children, is often cited to support a campaign for mandates. But a review in the LA Times declared that the children who allegedly died of the disease actually died of inadequate medical response, bringing up uncomfortable questions about the quality of medical care the clearly working-class families received.
A disturbing theme has emerged in an analysis of all eight cases of California infants who died from whooping cough this year: Despite the patients’ multiple visits to clinics and hospitals, doctors typically failed to make a swift, accurate diagnosis.
“In several cases … the infants were treated only for nasal congestion or mild upper respiratory infection,” Dr. John Talarico, an immunization official with the California Department of Public Health, wrote in a recent letter to healthcare providers statewide…
“All of those should’ve been diagnosed earlier. And a couple of them, even after they were diagnosed, the [healthcare providers] didn’t take it as serious enough, quick enough,” Cherry said. Delayed hospitalization contributed to fatal outcomes, he said.
Cherry said physicians who suspect whooping cough should order lab tests to confirm the diagnosis. Because infants can deteriorate rapidly, Cherry advised physicians to strongly consider hospitalizing them in a major medical center with access to an intensive care unit.
A quick diagnosis can lead to treatment with antibiotics, which can keep the patient from becoming gravely ill.
There’s also the issue that the vast majority of those who contracted the disease had been fully vaccinated for it. As with the flu, outbreaks due to primary vaccine failure are actually quite common among highly vaccinated populations, a fact that also tends to detract from the argument that it’s important to vaccinate for the sake of the collective. Some vaccine inserts even warn that one can contract, asymptomatically carry and pass on the diseases represented by those vaccines. This was demonstrated in Sydney, Australia, when an outbreak among infants on a neonatal ward was traced to a vaccinated nurse.
Currently the vast majority of children are fully vaccinated for not just pertussis but everything else pushed onto the market. Yet the current state of health in the U.S. has been getting worse, particularly in the past two decades. Longevity is reversing and the state of children’s health is crap: one in six with developmental disorders, one in ten with severe allergies, on in ten with asthma and the worst child mortality of any developed nations as well as a slew of developing nations. The U.S. spends more on health care than any country on earth; we give more vaccines than any country on earth and our child mortality rate puts us at #51, below Cuba, a third world country subjected to western embargoes. We’re below island nations no one remembers the names of.
We’re doing something wrong. It might not be so simple figuring out what, but we can start with the obvious: healthcare. Even when you get it it’s not that great. According to the U.S. iatrogenic report, over 100,000 Americans die of taking appropriate dosages of prescription drugs each year and we’re five times more likely to die at the hands of our doctors than in a car accident. And no other developed country mandates as many shots as a requirement for attending school: 71 doses of 16 vaccines between birth and 18. Furthermore, consumers can’t sue no matter what happens following vaccination and the Supreme Court has declared the technology “unavoidably unsafe.”
Meanwhile developed countries that are twenty, thirty, forty and fifty slots higher on the world child mortality index don’t mandate any shots at all. The few that do, like France, might require only a few vaccines representing genuinely deadly diseases, though these are easy enough to get exemptions for. France is #10 on the infant mortality scale. Sweden, which is in the top 5, has a vaccine program which is entirely voluntary. Sweden also recommends roughly half the doses when compared to the U.S. and starts the process three months later in infancy than we do for most children:
Swedish vaccine schedule:
Boys 37 doses of 9 vaccines between ages 3 months – 16 years.
Girls: 40 doses of 10 vaccines between ages 3 months – 16 years.
Type of requirement: Voluntary; resistance to MMR is commonly high.
Ethylmercury content (thimerosal): Removed in 1993. Replaced with phenoxyethanol
Ranking on world child mortality index (best to worst): 5
U.S. vaccine schedule:
71 doses of 16 vaccines birth – 18 years.
Type of requirement: Mandated for school attendance barring exemptions varying by state. Vaccine exemptions are nearly impossible to get in West Virginia and Mississippi and very difficult in New York state.
Ethylmercury content (thimerosal): Reduced between 2003 and 2007, though some vaccines still contain trace (1 to 5 micrograms) up to 25 micrograms (50% of all flu shots).
Ranking on world child mortality index (best to worst): 51
Sweden has a socialized healthcare system but Switzerland does not. Switzerland is at #23, still almost 30 slots higher on the infant mortality index than the US with better than a third fewer infant deaths. Switzerland also doesn’t mandate any vaccine for school attendance. The type of healthcare system in any country could arguably matter regarding child health outcomes, but it’s not the only factor relevant to the discussion.
Police State USA was recently told that it would be a bad idea to wade into any dicey discussions of commercial medicine and public health policy in the U.S.—particularly the extra-dicey issue of compulsory vaccination— on the grounds that the subject might dump excess “controversy ballast” on a forum which watchdogs against excessive incursions on privacy and the militarization of domestic law enforcement.
But what if medical mandates are a classic entry point for broader incursions on privacy and rights? After all, “protecting children” is the usual opening wedge for just about every chiseling policy snare going.
At what point does it become not only relevant but maybe even central to the dialogue on maintaining a free society? When they’re kicking down your door to take your kids into state care because you declined a flu shot for your preschooler?
The creepy fact is that this is already happening. Child Protective Services does not require actual legislation to justify child removal; it can be done discretionarily. In the case of Alorah Gellerson for example, custody of her infant was threatened because CPS pointed to a book excerpt hosted on a USDA website written by one W.H. Dietz—whose public-private medical organization, The American Society for Clinical Nutrition, is supported by Monsanto, Borden Milk and the pharmaceutical industry—saying that goat’s milk doesn’t make the best baby formula. Never mind that there is no law against feeding a baby goat’s milk or that genetically modified corn syrup doesn’t make the best baby formula either. These interpretive policing methods seem suspiciously suited to serve industry ends.
If you can get your industry-sponsored opinion on a government regulatory website, in other words, you can wield power over one of the most critical rights known to man: the power to take children away from their parents.
What if the loudest vaccine promoters, often the most conflicted, are also advocating for fines and “legal consequences”—unto child removal and forced vaccination— against consumers who decline some or all of the current 167 vaccine doses on the American lifetime immunization schedule? And where do the requirements to serve the greater good end?
Take for example a Pediatrics study which concluded that merely promoting breastfeeding would save more than 700 infant lives a year. Not that this would ever happen with Monsanto pulling the policy strings, but imagine the thousands that could be saved if breastfeeding were compulsory!
Breastfeeding—good. But mandated breastfeeding? Who wants to see that Special Problems unit in action?
Of course, we do not support compulsory breastfeeding. Merely because something could be arguably beneficial doesn’t mean it can be legislated or enforced in a society if that society is to remain an open one. Given the fact that Christ’s “kingdom is not of this world” or whatever other parable one would like to use for corruptibility of all human institutions (while in their earthly form) legislating morality isn’t a great idea. In fact, it’s one of Todorov’s three earmarks of totalitarianism. The other two are instrumentalism—using tools and toys merely because you have them; and “scientism”— making a cult of scientific doctrine, invariably for expedient gain and at the cost of society as well as the individual.
On that score, we’re already hanging by a needle.
Let’s come to an agreement that — despite our varying opinions about health care and about vaccinating — we want the process to remain voluntary. Individual medical treatments should not be dictated by a community, or, more accurately, by some panel of political appointees. Let’s agree that potentially life-altering medical decisions should be made by individuals without coercion. Let’s oppose the “public health” agenda of forcing corporate medicine on babies against their parents’ will.
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Tell New York City legislators to stop their efforts at tax-sponsored mass-medication of children. Let parents and day-care centers decide their own policies without government compulsion.
Tell the NYC Board of Health to oppose Proposed Amendment of Article 43 (School-Based Programs for Children Ages Three Through Five) and Article 47 (Day Care Services) of the NYC Health Code, found in Title 24 of the Rules of NYC.
E-mail Comments to: RESOLUTIONCOMMENTS@HEALTH.NYC.GOV
Comment online: Comment on Proposed Rules
Mail Comments to:
Roslyn Windholz, Secretary to the Board of Health
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Gotham Center, 14th Floor, CN 31
Long Island City, NY 11101-4132
Phone: (347) 396-6078
Phone: (347) 396-6116
Attend the NYC Hearing:
October 23, 2013, 10:00AM to 12:00PM
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
42-09 28th Street, 14th Floor, Room 14-45
Long Island City, NY 11101-4132
Petition Against Mandates: Taking Action: No flu or pneumococcal shots for NYC kids
More NYC Dept of Health Notices: Notices