From the November 2007 Idaho Observer:


Police with Dogs: Vaccinating Kids in Maryland

The scene about to be described was carefully choreographed and blasted all over the national news to make certain that every parent in America got a very specific message: "Vaccinate your children or go to jail."

By Barbara Loe Fisher

They were bundled up against the cold winter air on Saturday, November 17, 2007, with their children and the letter from the State of Maryland threatening them with imprisonment or fines of $50 a day for failure to show proof their children had gotten a chickenpox or hepatitis B shot. Confused, angry or scared, but mostly resigned, they were working mothers and fathers trudging toward the courthouse to face the judge ordering them to get vaccinated or go to jail. Patrolling the scene was a SWAT team of policemen with dogs.

There were a few vaccine safety and informed consent advocates who showed up to witness what happened at the Prince Georgeís County Courthouse, among them Washington D.C. Attorney Jim Moody, autism activist Kelli Ann Davis, of SAFEMINDS, and Charles Frohman, representing the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) as well as several moms with children who had developed autism after vaccination.

The U.S. media turned out but they were kept behind barricades and denied access into the building, as were the advocates and other members of the general public. There was no public oversight on what was happening to the parents and children inside.

I listened to or spoke with several mothers leaving the building with their children and learned the sad truth about what was happening behind the closely guarded, closed doors of the courthouse. The parents were not being asked questions about their childís medical history or whether the children had experienced health problems after previous vaccinations. The parents were not being given information about vaccine side effects or how to monitor their children for signs of vaccine reactions. They were not given forms for religious and medical exemptions to vaccination allowed in Maryland.

Apparently, the children were being re-vaccinated with not just hepatitis B and chicken pox vaccines, the two new vaccines added to the Maryland school requirement list, but also with other required vaccines for which the public school system could find no record. One mother told me her children were up-to-date on their shots but the school system lost the records and she had to give her children all the required vaccines on the spot or face jail or fines.

My son, Chris, who became learning disabled after suffering a serious reaction to a fourth DPT shot in 1980, traveled with me to Maryland carrying a camera. After growing up watching his Mom work to change one-size-fits-all vaccine policies that were responsible for his vaccine reaction, Chris recently decided he wants to help NVIC put a face on what it means to be vaccine injured in America and what it means when Americans do not have the right to freely exercise informed consent to vaccination.

Chris set up his camera as I talked with a mother hundreds of yards from the front of the courthouse door. I was about 12 inches inside a row of large cement balls that apparently were erected as a barrier to prevent terrorist attacks. I did not know I wasnít supposed to be talking with this mom inside the barrier. She was telling me about how she wasnít given any information about vaccines before her children were injected with three vaccines.

All of a sudden, out of the corner of my eye, I saw an armed guard with a dog emerge from the courthouse and walk toward us. I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. It was the dread that any citizen of any country in any century has ever felt when an armed guard with a dog starts advancing. As if we were common criminals or terrorists, he yelled and gestured to us to move behind the stones.

We moved without a word. And the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach told me we were being shown the power of the state wielded by that armed guard with the dog, just as parents inside the courthouse were being shown the power of the state wielded by doctors with syringes.

There has been talk this past week about whether or not U.S. vaccine laws are, indeed, laws or whether they are simply recommendations that do not have the force of law behind them. Because the enactment of public health laws was not defined in the U.S. Constitution as a federal activity, in 1905 the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the power of the states to pass public health laws requiring citizens to be vaccinated or re-vaccinated in Jacobsen v. Massachusetts.

There is now more than 100 years of case law reinforcing the U.S. Supreme Court decision and the right of states to exercise police power to enforce vaccine laws. The post/911 enactment of the Homeland Security Law, the Model State Health Emergency Powers Act and Bioshield I and II makes it clear that the state will use police power to enforce quarantine or vaccination whenever the state chooses to wield that power.

The method of punishment for not obeying U.S. state vaccine laws is up to the state legislatures which make the laws. Today, many state legislatures have turned over vaccine law-making to unelected government health and education officials, who may enlist state attorneys and judges in the court system to enforce punishments. One of the punishments which many states have chosen when children have not received all state-mandated vaccines is to bar children from attending school unless they file and the State approves exemptions to vaccination outlined by the State.

The National Vaccine Information Center receives calls and emails every week from parents who are being harrassed by government officials about filing a religious exemption to vaccination or cannot find a doctor to write a medical exemption. Maryland has a very strictly worded religious exemption that requires the parent to be opposed to all vaccines in order to obtain it.

Those parents, who do not vaccinate their children and do not either make arrangements with the state to homeschool them or successfully file a state-approved exemption, are in violation of state truancy laws. Failure to send your child to school in Maryland between the ages of 5 and 16 is a misdemeanor punishable by fines and jail time or both. This is the law which the Maryland government officials moved to enforce when they enlisted the help of Stateís Attorney Glenn Ivey (D) and Judge C. Philip Nichols to turn parents of unvaccinated children into criminals.

In one news report, Judge Nichols was quoted as observing that the children looked unhappy waiting in line for their vaccinations. He is quoted as saying "Itís cute. It looks like their parents are dragging them to church."

The big difference between being dragged into a courthouse to get vaccinated and being dragged to church is that an hour of prayer rarely results in catastrophic brain injury or death. I still wonder how many of those children, who were injected with multiple vaccines in the courthouse, are having vaccine reactions today. Their parents, many of whom are uninformed about how to recognize vaccine reactions, will never know what happened to their children if they regress into chronic poor health after the shots they were forced to get on Saturday.

We know that attacks on the religious and philosophical exemptions to vaccination in America are on the increase and are being led by vaccine patent holders like Paul Offit, M.D. and others who want to force vaccination.

In 1996, a 16-year-old Milwaukee boy was handcuffed, stripped and jailed overnight because he hadnít shown public school or county health authorities proof that he had gotten a second MMR shot. In 1997, I made a presentation to the National Vaccine Advisory Committee defending the moral right to exercise a conscientious belief exemption to vaccination and predicting what would happen if Americans did not win that freedom.

What happened in Maryland this weekend is a final wake-up call for America.Dozens of new vaccines are being rushed to market in the next decade and most will target children and adults for mandated use. Limiting the power of the State to force vaccination is all that stands between the people and tyranny.

There is only one way we will be free in the future: the laws must be changed so that every state allows a conscientious belief exemption to vaccination. Parents in Texas, after working with Parents Requesting Open Vaccine Education (PROVE) to educate the Texas legislature about the need for a conscientious belief exemption, got that exemption added in 2004. NVIC provided information and strategic support for PROVEís seven-year effort to secure strong informed consent and privacy protections in Texas vaccine laws but it was Dawn Richardson, Rebecca Rex and the people of Texas who got the job done.

Barbara Loe Fisher is co-founder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC). She is the co-author of DPT: A Shot in the Dark; author of The Consumerís Guide to Childhood Vaccines (NVIC 1997) and editor of THE VACCINE REACTION, NVICís quarterly newsletter. Their website is www.nvic.org



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