On February 2nd, in their weekly update, the Maine Medical Association reported that they are the authors of the bill being proposed to require parents to meet with, and be counseled by a physician before they will be allowed to exercise their right to philosophical vaccine exemption and send their child to school.
The recent measles outbreak has spread to nearly 100 people the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Thursday. Most of the cases are traceable to an outbreak at Disneyland and another theme park in Southern California but there have now been cases in thirteen additional states.
The outbreak has generated support for laws, such as one proposed in Maine which would help ensure that parents have all the necessary information regarding the benefits and risks of vaccination. State Representative Linda Sanborn, M.D., a retired family physician from Gorham, has submitted a bill prepared by MMA and supported by the Maine Immunization Coalition (MIC), the Maine Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (MAAP) and other public health organizations. The legislation would amend the philosophical exemption part of the state’s vaccination law by having a physician or other health care practitioner sign a form along with the parent indicating that the parent has been informed of the risks and benefits of vaccination. Other legislators, including Rep. Richard Farnsworth and Rep. Ralph Tucker, also have submitted bills which are designed to increase Maine’s vaccination rates.”
Vaccine sales interests have been known to be behind the push in other states to curb or remove parental rights to opt out of the products that they are selling, but rarely do special interests groups with a financial stake in vaccine uptake admit to the public that they are the entities writing these bills. The bill in question would increase the business of the members of the MMA, as parents who are currently not seeing an MD, RN or PA would have to make an appointment with one of these likely MMA members to receive the vaccine counseling described in the bill, as only their signatures will allow a child to opt out and still attend school.
It is not yet clear what content the MMA will consider the, necessary information regarding the benefits and risks of vaccination.” In 2011 when Rep. Andrea Boland proposed a bill to require families be given the list of ingredients in a vaccine before administration, the MMA opposed giving this information to parents regarding the risks of vaccination, so it may be that the only education that they will support for parents is that which will push them to vaccinate. Former Representative Boland commented that, “It is strange that they now want to have these conversations with families, because one of their arguments against my bill to inform families on ingredients was that doctors didn’t have time to have these conversations and they were just sending families to the CDC’s web site to avoid having to spend the time talking about vaccines. Doctors even admitted privately to me that they didn’t know how to answer some of the questions they were being asked by parents.”
Tonya Philbrick, Director of the Maine Immunization Program argued at the time that, “Maine CDC is concerned that requiring that ingredients be disclosed, in addition to providing a VIS, may place an unnecessary additional burden on the provider community.” If merely handing a form on vaccine ingredients to parents was a burden to medical providers, it is difficult to see how the arguement can be made that forcing whole vaccine conversations with parents who have decided against a vaccine would not be anything other than a non-starter with medical personel. So why is MMA writing this legislation?
The Maine Vaccine Consumer Protection Act, written by the parents of vaccine injured children, would also require that parents be given necessary information regarding the benefits and risks of vaccination, including risk information from not only the currently distributed CDC VIS, but the additional information the vaccine package inserts, the risk information on the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Table, and the rulings on vaccine adverse reactions made by the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Certainly if the MMA is serious about patient education, they will support our efforts to educate both parents and physicians on federal guidelines and rulings on vaccine injury.
However, it is the position of the Maine Coalition for Vaccine Choice that the claim by MMA that they want parents to have “all the necessary Information regarding the benefits and risks of vaccination,” is highly suspect and likely a bad faith claim, as they have opposed a bill handing a simple list of vaccine ingredients to patients.