Report recommends universal immunization for schoolchildren

One of the most controversial bills last session was Sen. Kevin Mullin’s proposal to improve immunization rates in Vermont by removing the philosophical exemption — the medical and religious exemptions would remain — and extending a pilot for a free vaccine program statewide.

A grassroots group of activist parents and other vaccine opponents opposed removing the exemption on philosophical grounds and while Mullin’s bill passed easily in the Senate, the House version failed.

With Act 157, the Legislature struck a compromise near the end of the session that allowed parents to continue using the philosophical exemption as long as they signed a new consent form that gave them the choice to opt out.

The health department form requires that a parent review educational material, including “information about the risks of adverse reactions to immunization” and understand that “failure to complete the required vaccination schedule” increases risk to others of contracting a preventable infectious disease. The new form underscores that exposure can be fatal for students with special health needs who are unable to be vaccinated or who are at heightened risk of contracting a “vaccine-preventable communicable disease.”

With that last issue in mind, the Legislature put in place a study group that was asked to evaluate how the state can protect children who are immunocompromised or who have special health needs from exposure to diseases transmitted by unvaccinated children and adults. The interim working group included members from the public health, medical and education communities. The group recently issued a report, now available on the Vermont Department of Health website, along with the minutes of the group’s meetings.

The Legislature asked the working group to consider two options for protecting at-risk children: moving vulnerable students from their local school to one in an “adjoining district” with a higher immunization rate and requiring all adults employed at schools — teachers and staff — to be fully vaccinated.

The report’s conclusion is that neither proposed action is workable for a number of reasons. In sum, the authors of the report write: “The most effective way to protect immunocompromised students in school is to require universal immunization.”

In working their way through the “feasibility” question on moving children from one school to another, the group concluded that while it is logistically possible to move children, that doesn’t mean they will be protected from exposure to disease, as there is no way “to medically demonstrate that an alternate school placement is and will be safer for the purpose of protecting an immunocompromised student.” Students move, Vermont has small schools and small classes, immunization rates change frequently even in one classroom and schools report immunization rates in January while student school assignments are made in the fall.

The study group also reported to the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare and the House Committee on Health Care that, while as yet no state mandates that adults in schools be vaccinated, the only course that would protect vulnerable students would be to recommend an annual flu vaccination and require that adults be immunized. However, since existing exemptions would also apply to adults, vulnerable children, such as those with cystic fibrosis, congenital heart disease or diabetes, remain exposed. And so, the report says, if they are to be effectively protected, “universal vaccination” is required.

Working group members uniformly describe the questions they tackled as “complicated.” Their meetings were buttressed by “extensive homework,” as pediatric infectious disease specialist Dr. William Raszka, of UVM’s College of Medicine put it. The minutes of the meetings show continuing discussion around definition of terms, reliable sources for statistics, laws and policies in Vermont and in other parts of the U.S. and how to be consistent in the recommendations. They include comments by members of the public who were present.

Kate Robinson


  1. rosemarie jackowski :

    It seems to me, that injecting thimerosol into babies and young children is child abuse.

    • steve arrants :

      Thimerosal has been removed from or reduced to trace amounts in all vaccines routinely recommended for children 6 years of age and younger, with the exception of inactivated influenza vaccine.

      Vaccine denialists kill children.

      • Mel Allen :

        Vaccines have done some wonderful things – namely eradicating polio. However, in other cases they have not been a blessing. Today, children are being used as piggy banks and guinea pigs. Ask your doctor – who may not be aware – but your child is expected to receive some 115 recommended immunizations when you separate out each dose and each antigen (often called “1 dose” it may contain anywhere from 1-13 antigens or combined doses) on the CDC recommended list. Oddly – many of the people who get sick from diseases and spread them are actually traced back to those who have been immunized – including many vaccinated for flu vaccines and 90% of those immunized against pertussis (aka Whooping Cough). Just one story reporting this can be found at . There is a clear and present danger in the Immunization industry – it goes by the names ‘Greed’ and ‘Profit’.

        • Kathryn Kinzel :

          The 115 antigens given to a child via vaccination pales in comparison to the millions of antigens your child is exposed to on a daily basis by eating, crawling, playing, breathing, etc.

          Vaccines today have fewer antigens than those given 20 years ago, which overall makes them safer.

          Even with the high rates of pertussis occurring in vaccinated children, you are still more likely to contract the disease if you are unimmunized than if you are immunized.

    • Eric Benson :

      On the contrary, denying children access to evidence based medicine, including immunizations against infectious disease, is clearly abusive.

      The benefit of vaccinations on the health of our population is significant, while the risks are very small in comparison.

      • Stephanie Harris :

        Injecting toxic substances into infants is clearly abusive.

        Aluminium salts, formaldehyde, human foetal tissue, peanut oil, undigested proteins of varied animal or plant sources, the list goes on.

        Make vaccines safe, have them tested in independent long term GENUINE PLACEBO controlled studies, and then compliance will no longer be an issue.

        The theory of vaccinating is good, but in practice, too many children are damaged by the toxic components causing allergic responses in various areas of the body ESPECIALLY ENCEPHALITIS (& brain damage resulting from that swelling).

        Please, make vaccines safe. I truly want to vaccinate but not with poison.

  2. Keith Wyman :

    Seems to me that If an Unimunized child spreads a preventable disease that causes harm or death to another, that childs parent should be held criminally and finacially responsible.

    • Thomas McLeod :

      Sure, but first let’s make the profit-hungry vaccine manufacturers, who incidentially have already paid billions in fines for fraud, financially and criminally liable for their dangerous, scientifically suspect products. Oh, you didn’t know that pharma gets a free ride on their hazardous products? Go ahead and ask your doc, see how trustworthy he or she really is.

  3. Lisa Pawlik :

    Good thing vaccines don’t have thimerosol in them except for the flu one which has less mercury in it than the average tuna sandwich and even less than mercury than breastmilk does.

    • Stephanie Harris :

      But tuna and breast milk is not being injected past the body’s own defences – sorry, but your analogy is invalid.

      • Lisa Pawlik :

        Actually the analogy is quite valid. What it means is you on average and even infants encounter and ingest more mercury each day that from 1 flu shot.

        Thirmersol has actually been proven to not be harmful and not cause autism. Vaccines in general have been proven to not cause autism. Vaccines have been proven to wipe out diseases, help create herd immunity which helps those who need a medical exemption from vaccines, less the severity of diseases if not prevent them altogether.

        It’s time the anti-vax movement looked at actual science and understood it as well as understand what Public Health means to a community at large, rather than relying on conspiracy theories, “gut” fact rather than real ones and fake hysteria.

  4. Tiki Archambeau :

    Another perspective to this is the popular book by Doctor Robert Sears called “The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child.”

    If there were just one point to emphasize, I’d say ramming this down Vermonters’ throats (universal immunization) would not go over well. However, giving parents a gradual schedule to make healthier children seems ideal. At least give us the illusion of choice by dispelling popular concerns.

    The CDC’s schedule is inordinately aggressive for youngsters, oddly includes shots for an STD (Hep B), and fails to address valid concerns of co-agents injected into children like aluminum. This is not to say nobody should vaccinate, but Doctor Sears advocates doing so on a slower scale to accommodate young, fragile health systems.

    • Kathryn Kinzel :

      Children’s immune systems are actually not bad – considering that they are often crawling around on the floor and sticking everything into their mouths, the immune system would need to be good.

      That being said, the immune challenge given by vaccines is not very high at all – far less than the daily challenge of just being alive and experiencing the world.

      HepB is also not just an STD – far from it, it is transmitted through bodily fluids and is 100x more infectious than HIV, so if anyone in the family had HepB, transmission is possible.

  5. Eric Bradford :

    How about an “alternate school placement” for kids whose parents refuse to get them immunized? No one chooses to have special health needs, why put the burden on those kids who are and their families?

    • “No one chooses to have special health needs” but what we can do is choose wisely about what we put into our bodies and those of our offspring.

  6. Marna Ehrech :

    You can not force people to receive injections that are full of poisons and have caused many deaths, and many illnesses. The answer to immuno-compromised folks is to strengthen their immune systems with the myriad of available nutrients, supplements and natural products that are known to do so.

    How do you answer the fact that many people who get the flu have been vaccinated? VAccines are one of the biggest scams of our lifetime–and Big Pharma is reaping big $ rewards… at our expense.

  7. Curtis Sinclair :

    They don’t put thimersol in children’s vaccines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) asked vaccine makers to remove thiomersal from vaccines as quickly as possible as a purely precautionary measure, and it was rapidly phased out of most U.S. and European vaccines.

    • Stephanie Harris :

      And what about the flu vaccines, huh? They’re recommend for infants from 6 months an DO contain mercury.

      • Stephanie Harris :


      • Kathryn Kinzel :

        A lot of flu vaccines don’t contain thimerosal. Not that it matters, since thimerosal isn’t dangerous.

        • THIMEROSAL –

          Primary Physical and Health Hazards: Skin Permeable. Toxic. Mutagen. Irritant (eyes). Allergen. Nervous System and Reproductive Effects.

          Caution Statement: Thimerosal may enter the body through the skin, is toxic, alters genetic material, may be irritating to the eyes, and causes allergic reactions. Effects of exposure may include numbness of extremities, fetal changes, decreased offspring survival, and lung tissue changes.

          Effects of Overexposure: Topical allergic dermatitis has been reported. Thimerosal contains mercury. Mercury poisoning may occur and topical hypersensitivity reactions may be seen. Early signs of mercury poisoning in adults are nervous system effects, including narrowing of the visual field and numbness in the extremities. Exposure to mercury in utero and in children may cause mild to severe mental retardation and mild to severe motor coordination impairment. Based on animal data, may be irritating to the eyes.

          Target Organ Effects: Thimerosal – Kidney effects (tubule necrosis), lung effects (tissue changes). Mercury – Nervous system effects (insomnia, tremor, anorexia, weakness, headache), liver effects (jaundice, digestive effects (hypermotility, diarrhea).

          Other Effects: Thimerosal – Decreased weight gain.

          Reproduction: Thimerosal – Decreased offspring survival. Mercury – Changes in sperm production, decreased offspring survival, and offspring nervous system effects including mild to severe mental retardation and motor coordination impairment.

          Sensitization: No applicable information found.

          Mutagenicity: Thimerosal – Mutagenic in mammalian cells. Not mutagenic in bacterial cells.


          SEE ALSO:

          Discarded Thimerosal-preserved vaccines to be managed as hazardous waste; illegal to put in regular trash

          Danger! Mercury –

          Persistent behavioral impairments and alterations of brain dopamine system after early postnatal administration of thimerosal in rats.
          Brain Dev. 2012 May 31.

          “embryonic exposure to thimerosal produces lasting impairment of brain monoaminergic system, and thus every effort should be made to avoid the use of thimerosal.”

          FYI: flu vaccines, DT (diphtheria and tetanus), Td (tetanus and diphtheria), TT (tetanus toxoid) and some adult vaccines still contain thimerosal.

          Between 80% and 90% of the flu shots in any given year still contain thimerosal

          • Curtis Sinclair :

            You CAN get vaccines- even flu vaccines- that do not contain thimerosal. According to the FDA website FluMist
            (MedImmune Vaccines, Inc.)never contained thimerosal.

            It should also be noted that there are different forms of mercury and that some are less toxic than others. The most toxic form of mercury is methylmercury. This is the form of mercury that is produced by bacteria from manmade or naturally occurring mercury in the environment. And it is estimated that natural sources, such as volcanoes, are responsible for approximately half of atmospheric mercury emissions.

            From FDA:

            Thimerosal contains a different form of mercury called ethylmercury. Studies comparing ethylmercury and methylmercury suggest that they are processed differently in the human body. Ethylmercury is broken down and excreted much more rapidly than methylmercury. Therefore, ethylmercury (the type of mercury found in the influenza vaccine) is much less likely than methylmercury (the type of mercury in the environment) to accumulate in the body and cause harm.


    • Lisa Mackenzie :

      Not quite Curtis, the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) is lobbying hard to keep mercury in children’s vaccines despite the UN’s efforts to remove it.

      The flu mist vaccine that is used in schools is laced with thimerosol and is a live virus vaccine. Parents are not informed of this, nor do parents make an informed decision when they sign a consent form that does not state that this vaccine contains mercury/thimerosol.

      For flu vaccine package inserts:

  8. Stephen Miller :

    More and more I see that representatives have no regard for people’s wishes. There is an agenda to advance, and public outcry means nothing. Just another attempt, and another.

  9. Dorian Yates :

    I wonder why this Report was ordered and why the recommendation was for universal vaccination? I have heard no news reports about immunocompromised children contracting illnesses from other kids—-vaccinated or not. How many immunocompromised children are there in Vermont schools? and how many are having problems with these diseases?

    About ten years ago we had a boy in our local elementary school who had a horrible cancer and had all sorts of treatments—he was very immunocompromised. At the time the school had numerous children in attendance who were not vaccinated or partially vaccinated and the boy never got any diseases from any student. Why is the State trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist—I am very confused.

    There seems to be evidence demonstrating that universal vaccination is not effective. The Australian government has stopped its free-pertussis-vaccine campaign because its experts found that “cocooning” (vaccinating adults to protect babies) was not effective. In November, The International Journal of Family Medicine published a study finding that, “The arguments for uniform healthcare worker influenza vaccination are not supported by existing literature. The decision whether to get vaccinated should, except possibly in extreme situations, be that of the individual healthcare worker, without legal, institutional, or peer coercion.”

    Why is the State creating this issue?

    • Eileen Foster :

      These are great questions, worthy of an verifiable answers from the State.

    • Twyla Ramos :

      Yes, great questions.

    • Kathryn Kinzel :

      Are you serious? There have been numerous studies that have shown the benefits of group immunity obtained through universal vaccination. Pertussis vaccines are still recommended for parents-to-be to protect their infant, and flu vaccines for healthcare professionals have been shown to cut down rates of flu in nursing homes and hospitals.

      It’s a basic infectious disease principle – if you cut down on the number of people who are susceptible to a disease, then the disease will move much more slowly through the population – sporadic cases versus full on epidemics. We’ve done a great job lately at vaccinating enough people to make sure that epidemics do not occur (so 10 years ago there was enough group immunity to protect the child with cancer), but we are getting increasingly lax about vaccinating on time and in full, so it is only a matter of time before these preventable diseases start picking up in frequency.

  10. Sarita Kahn :

    It is all about generating fear and money for big pharma. The bottom line is if vaccinations protect people why then are they able to be “infected” by non-vaccinated kids.

    To speed up flu vaccine production, the US FDA has approved a new insect-based, genetically engineered flu vaccine, as well as vaccines grown in cultures of dog kidney cells rather than eggs.

    Some parents might see no problems with this, but hopefully there are many who are horrified at the direction vaccinations are taking. To make it mandatory for children to be vaccinated will only result in many being home schooled and pulled out of the public school system.

    And while mainstream media claims the flu vaccine is working well this year, a recent review of published research shows flu vaccines are ineffective at best, and produce neurological complications at worst, while having no effect at all on hospitalizations or working days lost.

    As to the dangers of vaccination, take a look at the narcolepsy rates for people vaccinated with swine flu.

  11. David Usher :

    Health and personal choice issues always raise strong emotions. The anti-vaccination arguments are similar to those now being made passionately by opponents of the smart meter wireless transmission or the health threats alleged by some when the VELCO high voltage transmission line routing decisions were in play.

    Private choices and public policy decisions for the common good should both be made rationally and thoughtfully based on the best available science. Individuals can argue what constitutes ‘best available science,’ but the public interest demands that policy decisions be made to benefit the vast majority and that opponents should be expected to abide by them.

    All personal decisions, particularly those opposing established public policy, have consequences. Those who make health-related decisions or take action based on personal choice motivated by religious or philosophical beliefs in opposition to established policy and practice should live with the consequences of that choice/action and not expect society to ‘subsidize’ the result.

    • Last year, after a rapid Senate vote without too much dialogue, the House held a full public hearing and a week’s worth of testimony as to whether vaccine exemptions should be eliminated in Vermont.

      The House then recommended that the Dept. of Health focus on education on the merits of vaccination, rather than forcing parents or forcing children out of their schools. This program of education has not yet even begun, so it would make sense to give things more time. After all, if the benefits of the product are good, it should sell itself.

  12. Justin Campfield :

    “You can not force people to receive injections …”

    Marna, nobody is forcing anybody to do anything. However, if you want to send you child to a PUBLIC school, they should be required to be immunized. Unfortunately, it seems that parents have the right to put the lives of their own children at risk (although we do have laws requiring seat belts …), but they don’t have the right to put the lives of other children at risk.

    • Surely we can dispense with word games, this being Vermont. The State exists through the exercise of force, that’s just the nature of the beast: enforce compliance.

      Note the language: “require universal immunization.”

    • Twyla Ramos :

      When the consequence is denial of a public education, that is forced vaccination. Not everyone has the resources to homeschool, and that is not what everyone wants for their children. It’s total BS to say that people can just take their kids out of school, as if that is no big deal.

  13. rosemarie jackowski :

    A couple of months ago, there were Congressional Hearings on this topic. World class experts testified. Everyone needs this information.

  14. Last year, after a rapid Senate vote without too much dialogue, the House held a full public hearing and a week’s worth of testimony as to whether vaccine exemptions should be eliminated in Vermont.

    The House then recommended that the Dept. of Health focus on education on the merits of vaccination, rather than forcing parents or forcing children out of their schools. This program of education has not yet even begun, so it would make sense to give things more time. After all, if the benefits of the product are good, it should sell itself.

  15. Twyla Ramos :

    Society is currently paying a huge cost for the 1 in 88 children who have autism. This cost will rise as their parents grow old and die off, no longer here to care for them. We also have escalating rates of chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, ADHD, and IBD – all related to immune system derangement – inflammation and/or autoimmunity. This generation of children is over-vaccinated, and suffering from the collateral damage of our war on contagious diseases.

    Vaccines have benefits which are currently being exaggerated by our health authorities, and risks which are poorly understood and generally denied. People must have the right to make their own choices. If something goes wrong, the parents will be picking up the pieces.

  16. Twyla Ramos :

    There’s all this concern expressed for those who “can’t vaccinate”. But who should not vaccinate? Who is susceptible to vaccine injury? Why do vaccine injuries occur? Adverse reactions are summarily dismissed as coincidence, and parents are told to keep charging full speed ahead with the standard schedule. So much concern for those who “can’t vaccinate” but that is considered to be an extremely small group, so rare, limited to just a few circumstances. Since so little is known about vaccine injuries, how can it be determined who can tolerate all the vaccines and who cannot? Parents need to be able to make this choice for their children.

    And, not all of the diseases we vaccinate against are so serious or communicable.

  17. Emma Wright :

    We are headed that way with government run medical “care.” One day when you want to opt out of a pharmaceutical product or medical procedure, you too will be pressured to use it “for the sake of the greater good.”

    • Roland Roy :

      Agreed Emma, and in the converse if a patient wishes to choose an expensive treatment that *might* help them the government authorities will likely deny that based on the cost “for the sake of the greater good”.

  18. rosemarie jackowski :
  19. Kate Lalley :

    Those who don’t vaccinate their children for ” philosophical reasons” Are free riders who have the LUXURY of this choice because i and countless others vaccinated our children.

  20. Mickey Steamboat :

    It is astonishing how many people are still willing to defend the pharmaceutical companies and the idea of vaccinating their children.

    • Kathryn Kinzel :

      I defend vaccinating our children because I believe in public health.

  21. People have a touching faith in the pharmaceutical industry which is becoming more and more corrupt. You only have to turn on the TV to see how much money they have to spend on advertising. How much more for public relations propaganda?

  22. Joanne Bottger :

    I believe we should all have choices about our childern’s healthcare. If you choose not to vaccinate your children you should not enroll your children in public school where your decision puts other children at risk. You are free to believe what you wish about the risks and benefits of immunizations. You should not be free to put other children at risk.

    • How can those other children be “at risk” if they have been vaccinated, though?

      • Curtis Sinclair :

        Because vaccines are not 100% effective. Not every person will generate a protective immune response to a particular vaccine on a given day. That’s why it is important to vaccinate as many people as possible.

  23. Eric Bradford :



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