Recent events again highlight the need for Americans to stand up for their right to know, and freedom to choose, when it comes to medical risk taking. The New York Court of Appeals not only has given the nod of approval to New York City's health department requirement that all preschoolers must get annual flu shots, but the California legislature is also moving toward eliminating the personal belief vaccine exemption for families on welfare.
Aside from the loss of the human right to informed consent to medical risk taking, these decisions are all the more incomprehensible considering the lack of scientific evidence supporting the safety and effectiveness of annual flu vaccination from cradle to grave and one-size-fits-all vaccination policies and laws. Again and again, we see vaccine policy built on lobbying dollars without real concern for human health and welfare.
Informed Consent to Medical Risk Taking Is a Basic Human Right
As noted by National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) president Barbara Loe Fisher in her Independence Day commentary on zero tolerance vaccine laws,1 "Today, we are witnessing the erosion of core values that our constitutional democracy was founded upon. One example is a public campaign led by the medical establishment to demonize and discriminate against anyone opposing zero tolerance vaccine laws that violate human rights in the name of public health."
Informed consent is a basic human right in which a person has the ability to voluntarily accept or reject a treatment or medical procedure, including use of pharmaceutical products, after being fully informed of all possible risks and benefits. According to the University of Washington School of Medicine,2 "The most important goal of informed consent is that the patient has an opportunity to be an informed participant in her health care decisions."
It's a simple enough premise, but throughout history we've seen cases where informed consent was not only challenged but completely ignored, and this trend not only exists to this day, it has flourished in recent years, with cities, states and federal government pushing for mandatory vaccine laws with no ability to opt out. As noted by Fisher:3
"There are only two laws that require American citizens to risk their lives. The first is a federal law, the military draft, which requires all healthy male adults to risk their lives in a war declared by the government to protect national security. The second is a state law requiring all healthy children to risk their lives in a war that doctors declared on microbes two centuries ago.
However, unlike adults who are NOT punished for following their conscience and refusing to fight in a war to protect national security, parents CAN be punished for following their conscience and refusing to risk their children's lives in a war to theoretically protect the public health.
State sanctions include segregation and loss of the unvaccinated child's right to a school education or permitting pediatricians to deny medical care to children if their parents refuse one or more government recommended vaccinations.
Two different laws that require healthy Americans to risk injury or death: one conscripting adults in what government clearly defines as an emergency military action; and the other conscripting children in a mandatory vaccination program that is not defined as an emergency military action but is operated like one."
New York City Gets Green Light to Require Annual Flu Vaccinations for Preschoolers
Case in point, June 28, 2018, the New York Court of Appeals unanimously ruled the New York City health department has the right to require flu vaccination for preschoolers. The requirement was initiated in 2013 by city public health officials.
Five families sued the health department in 2015 to have the requirement overturned and two lower court rulings agreed the city had overstepped its legal authority. This final decision by the Court of Appeals now cements the city's legal right to require flu shots for children aged 6 to 59 months before they're permitted to attend child care or preschool. In the decision, Judge Leslie Stein wrote:4
"Undisputedly, there is a very direct connection between the flu vaccine rules and the preservation of health and safety. The rules challenged here do not relate merely to a personal choice about an individual's own health but, rather, seek to ensure increased public safety and health for the citizenry by reducing the prevalence and spread of a contagious infectious disease within a particularly vulnerable population."
In response to the decision, New York City health commissioner Mary Bassett said:5
"Vaccines save lives and are an effective public health tool to prevent the spread of disease. The severity of this past influenza season reminds us of how deadly influenza can be. The influenza vaccine is the best protection against seasonal influenza for everyone.
Children who receive the influenza vaccine are less likely to get sick, less likely to need medical attention and less likely to die from influenza. This decision will help us protect more than 150,000 children in city-regulated day cares and preschools across the city."