CA Governor Vetos Vaccine Mandate


by Barbara Loe Fisher

It has been a bad year for drug company lobbyists and doctors pressuring politicians in California to pass new vaccine mandates for children in the state. GARDASIL maker, Merck, and pro-forced vaccination proponents tried to ram through HPV vaccine mandates last winter and, when they were soundly defeated, tried to pass a law (AB16) this summer that would have allowed a State Health Officer to mandate every new vaccine the CDC recommends for universal use. That proposed law did not make it to the Governor's desk but a bill to mandate Prevnar (pneumococcal vaccine) did get to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk (SB 533) and he vetoed it on October 5.

California's premiere autism activist, Rick Rollens, got word yesterday that the Governor issued the following statement explaining his veto:

"I am returning Senate Bill 533 without my signature. While I am a strong proponent of prevention and support efforts to improve vaccine rates for children, I am unable to sign this bill as California's public health experts believe it is not needed. The Department of Public Health can already require young children receive the pneumococcal vaccine. California's vaccine experts have not established a mandate because they believe it is not needed. Approximately 86 percent of children are already being vaccinated under a voluntary system. For this reason, I am returning this bill without my signature."

Behind the scenes, federal and state public health officials have always joined with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and other medical organizations to support the lobbying efforts of vaccine manufacturers to get new vaccines mandated by states. This successful lobbying blitz has resulted in the more than doubling of the numbers of doses of vaccines children must get in order to attend daycare or school in the past quarter century.

Vaccine mandates mean assured and predictable profits for vaccine manufacturers. However, the fact that Governor Schwarzenegger indicated in his veto statement that state public health officials did not believe they needed the Prevnar mandate because "86 percent of children are already being vaccinated under a voluntary system" is an encouraging sign. Perhaps California state health officials are beginning to pay attention to the public's growing distaste for new vaccine mandates and have decided to pick their vaccine mandate battles more carefully.

Prevnar vaccine has been a blockbuster for Wyeth since it was licensed in 2000. So many parents wanted to get it for their children that Wyeth ran out of supplies in 2001, causing vaccine shortages and Prevnar continues to be a huge profit making enterprise for Wyeth.

The same is true for Merck's GARDASIL vaccine. Merck's financial bottomline has been helped enormously by voluntary use of GARSASIL by women and young girls in America since GARDASIL was licensed in 2006.

Vaccine mandates are not needed in the 21st century because the millions that drug companies can spend to advertise a new vaccine, coupled with the millions of taxpayer dollars that the CDC spends to promote mass use of new vaccines gets the job done without trampling on individual rights and the informed consent ethic. Leading proponents of business ethics are beginning to acknowledge the importance of respecting the informed consent ethic, a position which the National Vaccine Information Center has taken and promoted publicly for the past 25 years

Vaccines should be subjected to the law of supply and demand in the free market system like any other product produced by any industry. When people are allowed to exercise informed consent to risk taking, they own the decision they make and can take responsibility for the consequences of that decision. When people are forced to take a risk rather than make a voluntary, informed choice, they justifiably feel betrayed by those who coerced them when the risk turns out to be 100 percent.

Governor Schwarzenegger has the right idea: vaccine mandates are not needed for every vaccine that industry produces and the federal government promotes for children.
"Merck, like all business enterprises, has a right to unlimited profits providing it conducts itself ethically. An essential condition for ethical business is to deal only by mutual consent. This means that all parties involved must act of their own free will, without coercion. By advocating mandatory treatments, Merck participated in an attempt to violate individual rights. It is not too late for Merck to act responsibly. In promoting Gardasil it should explain the benefits of using the vaccine, enumerate the potential downsides, and admit that at this time more needs to be learned about its effects. Merck should talk to government officials, but the message must change. Merck could explain that Gardasil is a valuable treatment to be used only with the voluntary consent of responsible adults - either women or the parents of young girls. Merck should actively lobby against legislation that would coerce individuals to use its products." - Barry A. Liebling (March 2007)

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