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Vaccine opponents make their case

Posted March 24, 2015
Updated March 27, 2015

Flu vaccine

— Several dozen parents opposed to vaccines came to Raleigh Tuesday to ask lawmakers to preserve the state's religious exemption from immunization requirements.

Surrounded by children, the protestors held signs comparing mandatory vaccination to Nazi Germany, war crimes and terrorism.

Current state law requires certain immunizations before a child can enter school in North Carolina. However, parents can opt their children out of those requirements simply by stating in writing that they have a religious objection to vaccinations.

A proposal filed last week by three state senators would remove the religious exemption entirely and add several other vaccines recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the list of those the state requires. Medical exemptions for children who cannot be immunized would still be allowed with a doctor's signature.

Bill sponsors cite increasing use of the exemption by parents who believe vaccines are dangerous.

The anti-vaccination movement picked up steam after a 1998 British study purported to show a link between childhood measles vaccinations and autism. That study has since been debunked and retracted after investigators found the researchers misrepresented and made up data.

The CDC and the vast majority of pediatricians and experts recommend childhood vaccines, citing the very low incidence of adverse reactions to them in numerous studies.

Nonetheless, low risk is not no risk. Adverse reactions, though rare, do occur, and vaccine opponents point to those as proof that the vaccines are not safe for children.

"We have a right to our own bodies," Youngstown mother Kerri Pechin said Tuesday. "By pumping in known toxins, we're doing our bodies a disservice."

Pechin, a mother of eight, believes it's an issue of parental rights. She doesn't believe the risk of an outbreak of communicable disease is as great as public health experts say or that unvaccinated children substantially increase that risk.

"We think it's more of a control issue than a safety issue," she said. "Somewhere I read any measles that have come in have come in from outside the United States.

"I don't think we're a threat to the public. If you have a vaccine, why would you be afraid that you would catch something?" she added.

Asked about the risk to people who cannot be vaccinated because their immune systems are compromised, such as children being treated for cancer, Pechin responded, "If you’re immune-compromised, a cold is deadly. So, then you’re talking about, does everybody with a cold stay home?

"I think it should be a human right to decide if this is going to be put into our bodies or not. That’s all," she said. "People see this as a choice, a freedom, and it should not be taken away."

Sen. Tamara Barringer, R-Wake, says she's been deluged with calls and messages from parents. She said she and the other two sponsors, Sens. Jeff Tarte, R-Mecklenburg, and Terry Van Duyn, D-Buncombe, are committed to having an open public meeting to allow all sides to express their concerns.

"We are going to have thoughtful, rigorous and deliberate debate and discussion about this," Barringer said. "Nothing's been decided. I'm completely open-minded."

Of vaccine opponents, Barringer said, "If what they say is true, then we will legislate accordingly."

22 Comments

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  • Walter Kryshak Mar 26, 2015
    user avatar

    While pro-vaxxers (and legislators) are all hysterical over the ZERO DEATHS from the recent outbreak of measles in DisneyWorld (among the vaccinated!), nobody ever talks about the deaths vaccines actually cause.

    Here's some CDC news about the RotaTeq vaccine that Dr. Paul Offit invented and receives millions in vaccine royalties from—

    "A new CDC study shows 272 reports of intussusception (severe bowel obstruction) after the first dose of Merck’s rotavirus vaccine RotaTeq. The first rotavirus vaccine (Rotashield) was pulled from the market after similar reports. There are now 202 INFANT DEATHS associated with RotaTeq in the FDA Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) (Age < 3 years)."

    In my opinion, that's infanticide. So where's the outrage from legislators and pro-vaccine advocates?

  • Susan West Mar 25, 2015
    user avatar

    1. ) Fact : This bill require every child in the state of North Carolina to receive an annual flu shot to attend school. Per the CDC ( and as it written in the bill we must follow the CDC's guidelines - these shots should beging at since months of age )
    2.) Fact - This bill requires the Hepatitis A vaccine for all infant in NC. Per the Department of Health and Human Svs website this vaccine is recommend for people who :
    1.Live in a community with a high rate of hepatitis A
    2.Are a man that has sex with other men
    Use street drugs
    3.)Work or travel to countries with high rates of hepatitis A
    4.)Have long-term liver disease 5.)Receive blood products to help your blood clot 6.)Work with HAV-infected animals or work with HAV in research setting 3.) Fact - The roatvirus vaccine is also added to the list. A 2014 study showed an efficacy rate of only 53.6% percent. Fact 4.) These vaccines are already available and recommended in NC Fact 5.) This bill should be killed.

  • Angela Debelak Mar 24, 2015
    user avatar

    Please do the research. The herd health idea has been PROVEN FALSE. The US has the HIGHEST number of mandatory vaccinations in the world, just ranks a dismal 34th in infant mortality (Wikipedia). Vaccine makers like Merck are being sued for deliberately faking test results (United States v. Merck - Huffington Post). Parents actually SEE their children and their children's friends and the adverse reactions, many SEVERE, to being forced to have THIS many vaccines at such a young age. Mandatory intake of collard greens would be more effective to public health and equally invasive, but at least not injected into a child's bloodstream. But everyone would go crazy if the gov't forced them to eat greens, right? Don't be a sheep. Do the research. Check out www.nvic.org. My pastor/church don't need to pass a policy to micromanage my personal spiritual walk with God in order for me to have the religious freedom in the USA to protect my body and thus spirit from unwanted injections.

  • Dorinda Hayes Mar 24, 2015
    user avatar

    It is not insane to prevent an influenza outbreak that can kill kids, not protecting them is insane

  • Dorinda Hayes Mar 24, 2015
    user avatar

    Vaccines are not as dangerous as measles, meningitis or putting your kids in the car to go to the store. Do you ever take them anywhere in the car? If so, they could be in danger any moment, but you still take the risk? Right?

  • Dorinda Hayes Mar 24, 2015
    user avatar

    If you don't want to vaccinate your kids against potential deadly diseases, keep them in a bubble and away from everyone else's kids. How can someone not want to protect their child against possible death? What kind of religion would say put your kids and other kids at risk from something deadly to kids, but preventable? I don't get that.

  • Joseph Shepard Mar 24, 2015
    user avatar

    A proposed simple solution: Let all those parents who wish to exempt their children from receiving the state mandated vaccinations sign an agreement stating that if their unvaccinated child becomes ill with a vaccine preventable illness, and that child infects others , then the parents agree to cover all medical costs of anyone who becomes ill. Fair enough. All this hokum about "religious exemptions" is just that--hokum. I have never seen nor heard any biblical based excuse to avoid vaccinations.

  • Joseph Shepard Mar 24, 2015
    user avatar

    A proposed simple solution: Let all those parents who wish to exempt their children from receiving the state mandated vaccinations sign an agreement stating that if their unvaccinated child becomes ill with a vaccine preventable illness, and that child infects others , then the parents agree to cover all medical costs of anyone who becomes ill. Fair enough. All this hokum about "religious exemptions" is just that--hokum. I have never seen nor heard any biblical based excuse to avoid vaccinations.

  • Susan West Mar 24, 2015
    user avatar

    Caryn Hommel - YES! YES!YES!

    Our current vaccination rates are very high. In 2013 96.6%-99% of kindergartners in NC were up to date on their measles vaccines. This bill is about profit at the cost of removing parental rights.

  • Caryn Hommel Mar 24, 2015
    user avatar

    This is not a partisan issue, nor is it a debate between pro-vaxxers and anti-vaxxers. The current law is adequate; NC has the second HIGHEST compliance rate in the nation. There simply IS no state of emergency here EXCEPT for the threat represented by this bill! The real issue here is personal and religious liberty. My children are vaccinated, but I was at the legislative building meeting with senators to express my concern over this bill today. There is NO forcible injection of citizens in a free society, but this bill contains insidious provisions streamlining a mandatory status for future vaccines that may come down the pipeline. The ONLY ones who stand to profit without any risk whatsoever are the pharmaceutical companies (which were conferred legal immunity in the 1980s). We need to stop believing all the media hype and follow the money trail!

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