Texas legislators pass new vaccine exemption, then try to repeal it

A large new health-care bill recently passed the Texas legislature and was signed into law by Governor Rick Perry. The law contains a provision to allow parents not to vaccinate their children on the basis of “philosophical objections.” Details can be found at www.vaccineinfo.net.

The passage of this law was a huge victory for all of us who believe that individuals should have the freedom to make critical decisions regarding their health and the health of their children. It also specifically prohibits any punitive action towards parents who choose not to vaccinate and guarantees that unvaccinated children can remain anonymous.

Unfortunately, as soon as it was passed, the law stirred a great deal of controversy that culminated in a new bill being submitted to repeal it. This bill was to be debated beginning on July 10 and at the time of this writing the outcome is unclear.

The controversy stemming from the new vaccine law is described in an article published on July 4 in the Houston Chronicle (see http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/health/1979746 ). The article quotes several prominent Texas physicians as saying that parents cannot be trusted to make such important decisions regarding their children’s health because they do not follow rational scientific criteria.

I think I am as much a fan of science as anyone, but I also recognize that current scientific knowledge reflects just our present best estimate of a given issue, not necessarily the truth. Somehow medicine has consistently failed to distinguish between truth and current scientific knowledge.

As a result, for example, for more than twenty years physicians strongly urged that all women past menopause take hormone replacement therapy because the studies of the day showed it would protect their bones as wells as their hearts and improve the quality of their lives. Later, more in-depth studies showed that these same hormones actually did the opposite. They caused heart disease, stroke, dementia and cancer, and did not even protect women from osteoporosis. I think a little humility in medicine might be appropriate.

If you are interested in reading about a safer alternative vaccination schedule I recommend the book What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Children’s Vaccinations by Stephanie Cave, MD available from your local bookstore or www.amazon.com.

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