As an ad hoc organization representing over 1,300 Texas families, Texans for Vaccine Choice is dismayed by the recent change announced by the American Medical Association regarding a patient’s right to opt out of immunizations. Inserting itself into legislative policy-making, the AMA, an “advocacy” group of dues-paying members, has determined that states should eliminate non-medical exemptions to vaccines. According to the June 9 press release, immunizations should be “mandatory for admission to schools and other public venues.” In the event that elected officials are misled by the new AMA policy, thinking that it is an organization which speaks solely for physicians and has only public health in mind, Texans for Vaccine Choice would like to clarify a few points:
- A CAMJ report published in 2011 declared that AMA membership has declined steadily in recent years, and the group now only consists of around 200,000 doctors, less than 15% of those practicing in the U.S.
- The AMA’s own Code of Ethics Opinion 8.08 states: “The patient’s right of self-decision can be effectively exercised only if the patient possesses enough information to enable an informed choice. The patient should make his or her own determination about treatment . . . . Informed consent is a basic policy in both ethics and law that physicians must honor.” Therefore, the group is contradicting itself by requiring that patients undergo a medical treatment against their wishes in order to gain entry into a public space.
- The AMA Journal of Ethics concluded that healthcare workers, who are most at risk of contracting and transmitting communicable diseases year-round, ought to be afforded religious exemptions if a hospital has instituted a mandatory influenza vaccine policy. With regard to other immunizations, the Journal article includes commentary which supports noncompulsory programs for healthcare workers. It would, therefore, appear that the AMA is protecting its own while recommending that those who do not work in healthcare be required to be fully immunized.
- The AMA is hardly funded by member dues alone. In fact, among its biggest donors, referred to as “Humanitarians,” are every major American vaccine manufacturer – Merck & Co., Eli Lilly & Company, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP, Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer. An organization which accepts more than $100,000 from each of these companies should have no opportunity to influence vaccine policy on any level.
- In 1986, the US Congress enacted the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, which created legal immunity for not only vaccine manufacturers, but also vaccine administrators (i.e., doctors and nurses). Thus, if a vaccine is given and it causes injury or death, the physician who gave the shot is not financially liable. Medical malpractice laws do not apply to immunization administration.
- By requiring that parents seek out a medical exemption for vaccination, as opposed to being able to opt out based on deeply held personal or religious beliefs, or be fully vaccinated on-time, the AMA is promoting one of its main points of focus, that of “professional satisfaction and practice sustainability.” It is essentially guaranteeing customers for its members.
Texans for Vaccine Choice is urging knowledgeable legislators to disregard this policy change, and asking concerned healthcare professionals to reject these recommendations. Informed consent and bodily autonomy are basic human rights, both of which are violated when vaccines are mandated.
~ Lone Star
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