Texas, Conscientious Objection to Vaccination
April 6, 2001
To: Members of the House Public Health Committee:
This is to advise you that our Association, founded in 1943 to preserve traditional medical ethics, opposes mandatory immunizations. We represent thousands of physicians (and through them, millions of patients) in all specialties nationwide.
All medical treatments carry risks. It is the duty of the physician to advise each patient of the risks and benefits of any medical intervention, with reference to his or her individual circumstances. The patient, or the patient's guardian in the case of a minor, has the responsibility of making the decision. Only in rare circumstances may this decision be overridden. Such circumstances require the intervention of an unbiased court, and the State carries a burden of proof. A physician who subjects a patient to a treatment without informed consent, in the absence of a court order, commits assault and battery.
We do not believe that immunizations deserve any special dispensation from the "do-no-harm" ethic of the physician. Nor is there justification for the State to abrogate citizens' rights in order to impose mass immunization.
Most parents act in what they conscientiously believe to be in the best interest of their children. They do not take lightly the decision to decline to act on a physician's advice, or the recommendations of the State Public Health Department.
Vaccine mandates are not necessarily based on the best scientific information, and the process for establishing the mandates is often tainted by apparent financial conflicts of interest. The rotavirus vaccine is a case in point.
While people usually assume that a mandated product must undergo rigorous safety testing, vaccine safety tests are extremely limited in duration and scope. Moreover, the results may be unavailable for independent scrutiny. A year has elapsed since AAPS filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the data used in licensing the hepatitis B vaccine in newborns. The data have not been openly published. Thus, parents have valid causes for concerns about vaccines.
There are probably genetic factors, as yet undefined, that predispose some children to excessive risk of serious vaccine adverse reactions. Unquestionably, there is also a wide variation in risk of disease, particularly hepatitis B, based on factors such as lifestyle and prevalence of disease in the population at a particular time.
Information about various vaccine-related issues is posted on our web site at www.aapsonline.org. Please feel free to call (800) 635-1196 if you have questions or need further references.
Jane M. Orient, M.D.