NAA NYM Supports a Philosophical Exemption from Vaccination in NYS

The NAA NY Metro Chapter’s representative along with other autism advocates and activist had a private meeting with N.Y. State Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, who chairs the Assembly Health Committee. The meeting was held on 4/17/2011 at the district office of the assemblyman. Those joining in this meeting included John Gilmore, Exec. Director of Autism Action Network, Rita Palma of My Kids My Choice, Mary Holland Esq and Robert Krakow Esq of EBCALA. Lisa Rudley and Khalid Rehman represented the NY Metro Chapter.

Assemblyman Gottfried is very sympathetic to our cause. He currently has sponsored two bills, A00592 and A00593. If enacted, the boll A00592 will “provide protections to parents who decline to have their children immunized on the basis of religious beliefs; will allow a parent to submit an affidavit stating that the parent, parents or guardian hold genuine and sincere religious beliefs”. The bill A00593 will “extend the protections of the medical exemption from mandatory immunizations for students to ensure deference to the professional assessments of physicians and nurse practitioners in the care of their individual patients”.

The group asked the assemblyman to go a step further and support an alternative bill that will be broad based and provide exemption based on secular grounds. The data from CDC shows that in 2009, the rate of vaccination in the States that offer religious and philosophical exemption was not lower than other states or the national average. In fact and contrary to what will seem obvious, the rate of vaccination in the States with religious and philosophical exemption was higher than many States without such laws. This was explained by the fact that when parents are allowed to seek such exemptions, they choose to have their children vaccinated against some serious illnesses, whereas without such exemptions, such parents avoid all types of vaccinations. This data was shared with the assemblyman.

The legal issues of personal choice and inability of families to seek remedies and damages due to defective vaccines were discussed by Mary Holland and Robert Krakow. Dr. Khalid Rehman spoke about lack of informed consent and the impact of mandated vaccines on the immune system of vulnerable children. Lisa Rudley and Rita Palma emphasized that we must be allowed to have choices and that mandatory vaccinations alienate such families, force them no avoid vaccinations. This “all or none” attitude is contrary to good public health policy, a goal that the assembly health committee strives to achieve.