There is great debate on the subject of vaccinations. Among the numerous issues of contention is the subject of legally requiring children to receive particular and specific vaccinations. It should be noted that all rights in the United States are individual rights, so those are what are specifically addressed in “the law”. In a republic, the “Rule of Law” means that if one person has a right, the majority cannot violate that legally. This is very different from a democracy, where the majority can violate whatever “rights” they wish as long as they have 50% + 1 vote for it. Here are a few applicable standards and laws. The laws are specific to the State of Oklahoma.
While the percentage of doctors who are members of the American Medical Association is hard to come by (and is likely about 20-30% range based on THIS article), it is a resource for a number of things including the AMA Code of Medical Ethics. From Opinion 8.08 – Informed Consent:
Informed consent is a basic policy in both ethics and law that physicians must honor, unless the patient is unconscious or otherwise incapable of consenting and harm from failure to treat is imminent.
While not a law, the Nuremburg Code is a set of ten ethical guidelines related to medical experiments, which resulted from the nightmarish treatment of concentration camp prisoners by Nazi Germany during WWII. The first of these 10 is of particular note, and addresses the idea of “Informed Consent”:
- The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential.
This means that the person involved should have legal capacity to give consent; should be so situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, over-reaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion; and should have sufficient knowledge and comprehension of the elements of the subject matter involved as to enable him to make an understanding and enlightened decision. This latter element requires that before the acceptance of an affirmative decision by the experimental subject there should be made known to him the nature, duration, and purpose of the experiment; the method and means by which it is to be conducted; all inconveniences and hazards reasonably to be expected; and the effects upon his health or person which may possibly come from his participation in the experiment.The duty and responsibility for ascertaining the quality of the consent rests upon each individual who initiates, directs or engages in the experiment. It is a personal duty and responsibility which may not be delegated to another with impunity.
It is true that Oklahoma State Law requires certain vaccinations. It is also true that exemptions exist for medical, religious, and philosophical reasons. You read that correctly – if someone objects just “because”, they can tell the school in writing, on any form they wish, that they are exempting the children. The State and any subdivision (including the school) has no power to “grant” the exemption – the LAW already states this is the right of a parent. Here is the actual text of the law:
§ 1210.192. Exemptions
Any minor child, through the parent, guardian, or legal custodian of the child, may submit to the health authority charged with the enforcement of the immunization laws of this state:
1. A certificate of a licensed physician as defined in Section 725.2 of Title 59 of the Oklahoma Statutes, stating that the physical condition of the child is such that immunization would endanger the life or health of the child; or
2. A written statement by the parent, guardian or legal custodian of the child objecting to immunization of the child; whereupon the child shall be exempt from the immunization laws of this state.
In 2014, a law known as the “Parental Bill of Rights” was passed by the Oklahoma Legislature, and signed into law by Governor Mary Fallin. It even passed the State Senate with a unanimous vote. It has several sections that are a wonderful affirmation of the rights of parents, but relevant to this subject is Section 4. It is actually Title 25, Section 2004 in Oklahoma Law, and is says (in part):
A. Except as otherwise provided by law, no person, corporation, association, organization, state-supported institution, or individual employed by any of these entities may procure, solicit to perform, arrange for the performance of, perform surgical procedures, or perform a physical examination upon a minor or prescribe any prescription drugs to a minor without first obtaining a written consent of a parent or legal guardian of the minor.
In summation, if something is mandated by law, there is no “consent” to that thing. It is just force that compels submission to the will of the State. Consent implies a decision to say “yes” or “no”. Oklahoma State Law does not require any specific reason for exempting a child from vaccination; that is up to the discretion of the parent and is not anyone else’s business. The only requirement is that it be in writing (and that does not require a form, although there is one if you ask for it). In the end, you have the power to decide what medical treatments you and your children receive. Any questions about the efficacy, safety, liability, or scheduling of vaccination (and any other medical treatments for children) should be, and legally are, only to be decided by the parents – as it should be in a free society.