Ginger Taylor, MS
Maine Coalition for Vaccine Choice
Tera Pare, Manager, Regulations and Enforcement (DHHS)
Jaci Holmes, Federal State Legislative Liaison (DOE)
Department of Health and Human Services
Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention &
Maine Department of Education
Re: PROPOSED RULE NUMBER: 10-144 CMR, Ch. 261 (DHHS); 05-071 CMR, Ch. 126 (DOE)
Dear Ms. Pare and Ms. Holmes,
During the 2015 legislative session, five vaccine bills were proposed, three of which attempted to increase the vaccine burden on children, and impinge on the rights of families to make uncoerced vaccine decisions for their children. One of those measures sought to add the Tdap vaccine to the required shots for 7th graders.
Mainers turned out in large numbers to oppose these new burdens on families, the three bills that assaulted family rights were defeated, and the only action ultimately passed by the legislature on vaccination was to approve part of a bill written by the Maine Coalition for Vaccine Choice to add information about the HHS Vaccine Injury Compensation Program to the Maine.gov web site.
For the Maine CDC to then wait a year and accomplish via rule making what they could not accomplish in the legislature because it was so strongly opposed by parents, can be interpreted as yet another bad faith move by Maine CDC, and further evidence that your agency does not take vaccine safety, or the rights and concerns of parents, seriously.
Mainers showed up to tell their government that their children were getting hurt, that their doctors were both denying their children’s adverse events and failing to offer them medical help, that they could not get accurate information from their doctors on vaccine risks, that they were unable to get compensation from the VICP, that their families were experiencing a great deal of hardship due to vaccine injury and that they regretted participating in the vaccine program because, for them and their loved ones, it resulted in chronic illness, disability and death.
The Maine Coalition for Vaccine Choice pointed out the Maine medical system’s serious shortcomings in addressing vaccine adverse events and injuries. Via their own testimony, those medical entities and individuals supporting these oppressive bills in Maine and fighting our bill to address the vaccine injury and informed consent problem, demonstrated that they knew so little about the vaccine program that they were advocating for, that only 1 in 20 could correctly identify the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. This includes the President of the Maine Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, who did not even know the name of the VICP, and the representative for the Maine Medical Association (an RN and an attorney), who, while opposing a bill mandating that providers know and use the VICP in practice, admitted that he didn’t know what the VICP was. Only one physician who submitted testimony could differentiate the VICP, designed to replace the system where they could be sued for vaccine injury by getting compensation and care for those cases, from VAERS, a database to track vaccine safety that in no way helps those injured by vaccines.
Our organization has contacted your agency repeatedly in good faith, to try to garner your attention to the vaccine injury problem,and the lack of confidence in the vaccine program. This lack of confidence due to the negligence of the State of Maine in both working to prevent vaccine injury and in caring for those who are vaccine injured, will not go away. No help or information has been forth coming. In fact the agency arranged a discussion on what to do about vaccine resistant Mainers, and vaccine law at the University of Maine, and neither notified us of the event nor asked us to have any input on the subject. Family after family testified before the Maine Legislatures HHS committee to their serious unmet needs and hardships, with physicians and public health officials in attendance, and not one of them, or our organization, was contacted by anyone to see how they could provide help for those families.
There is no other issue in politics anywhere in this country, where those stakeholders most severely impacted by a policy are left out of policy discussions. Not veterans, not workers, not Native Americans, not even prisoners. But this is standard operating procedure for vaccine injury families, and those who believe their children are at risk for adverse reactions from vaccination. They are left out of policy decisions, and their questions, comments and pleas for help are ignored, PER PUBLIC HEALTH POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS.
This unjust treatment that our members have been receiving from state and federal health authorities has now been codified by The World Health Organization, which now formally teaches those in the health profession to refer to vaccine injury families as “Vaccine Deniers” and not to engage them. In their new publication, “Best practice guidance// How to respond to vocal vaccine deniers in public, First Edition1,” The WHO instructs them ONLY to engage them in public forms with the end goal being to convince others to vaccinate, and even then, only if they have had “media training.”
But rather than addressing the vaccine injury epidemic, and the complaints of parents, the Maine CDC has decided to continue to add the number of vaccines required for school children.
Further, it is being done by making the claim that adding the Tdap will “protect Maine students,” when the vaccine itself targets the toxin made by the bacteria, and does not prevent transmission of, or infection by pertussis, merely the symptoms of the infection. Further, likely because of the mutation of the organism, we are now seeing outbreaks that ONLY occur in the vaccinated2, leaving those unvaccinated for pertussis symptom free.
But what is most disturbing to our community is that there is so little concern for the safety of this vaccine, when severe brain damage, seizures and even death are known adverse outcomes of the shot.
Our medical adviser, Dr. Meryl Nass, will be following up with your agency to discuss the vaccine itself in greater detail.
The Maine Coalition for Vaccine Choice opposes these proposed changes, as the current vaccine program is dangerously aggressive, and the 7th Amendment rights of Mainers to sue for vaccine injury and death have been removed by the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act.
We oppose the changes because Maine pediatricians are not taught, and do not know, how to recognize Tdap vaccine adverse reactions, test to confirm the adverse reactions, or treat the adverse reactions.
We oppose the changes because the Maine CDC’s response to our request to provide our organization with the name of a MaineCare participating physician in the state who is experienced and qualified to address vaccine adverse reactions was that they do not keep such information.
We oppose the changes because even those few families who manage to find out about, and file with the VICP, are almost always left uncompensated.
We oppose the changes because Maine CDC refuses to answer the vaccine safety, efficacy and policy questions that we submitted to them in 2015.
We oppose the changes because once a child is vaccine injured, that family is abandoned by State of Maine and its medical providers. They are, at best, on their own, and at worst, treated as an enemy and a bad parent.
We oppose the changes because the State of Maine does not take vaccine safety seriously.
At this time, Maine should be doing a very in-depth assessment of the current vaccine program to reform the way Mainers are vaccinated, implementing screening procedures for those who are at risk for vaccine injury, re assessing suspected vaccine injury cases, and assisting vaccine injured Mainers in acquiring compensation in the VICP.
As the current financial burden for vaccine injury falls on the state services, local school systems and families themselves, Maine should focus on shifting the burden back on the federal government, which removed Mainer’s right to sue for adverse reactions, and assumed financial responsibility for these cases thirty years ago.
Further, to report that these charges will have zero fiscal impact is absurd. It assumes that there are zero adverse reactions, and continues with the same vaccine injury denialism that is tearing down faith in the vaccine program at an increasing rate.
Maine should not be doubling down on the current aggressive, negligent and damaging vaccine program. There is no current risk from these diseases that justifies increasing the risk of Tdap vaccine injuries to children. There is no system in place to even find these injuries when they occur to assess whether this policy change is one that improves or harms child health in Maine.
The Maine Coalition for Vaccine Choice opposes the changes because Maine needs to address the vaccine injury problem it has, before adding one more shot to a program that has likely passed the point where it does more harm than good.
In the coming months our organization will be releasing a white paper reviewing the gaps and problems Maine Immunization Program revealed by the 2015 legislative session and its aftermath. We hope that the state of Maine will reverse course and become as concerned with the lifelong disability and deaths being caused by the current program as it is with the short term, treatable illnesses like measles and pertussis that the program is focused on preventing.