There have been 101 cases of measles that have been reported in 10 states since the beginning of 2019,1 hardly a public health emergency in a U.S. population of more than 320 million people where 94 percent of school children have received two doses of MMR vaccine and only two percent of children have a vaccine exemption for any reason.2 In what looks like a repeat of the “measles in Disneyland” media feeding frenzy that stampeded California state legislators into eliminating the personal belief vaccine exemption in 2015,3 4 the tiny minority of parents who have made a conscious choice not to give their children every one of the dozens of doses of federally recommended and state mandated vaccines are being once again relentlessly stereotyped, demonized and bullied.5 6 7 8
In what appears to be another well-orchestrated campaign to pressure state legislatures to remove all personal belief vaccine exemptions in the U.S. and further restrict already narrow medical exemptions to vaccination,9 10 11 12 13 forced vaccination proponents are whipping up irrational fear to justify attacking human rights, including freedom of thought, speech, religious belief and conscience.14 15 16 17 18 It is a spectacle unworthy of a nation where human rights19 and civil liberties have been valued since the ratification of the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution in 178920 and the informed consent principle became the anchor for medical ethics after World War II.21 22 23
During this time of discrimination and oppression, the nonprofit educational charity, the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), is back up in Times Square with NVIC’s “Vaccinations: Know the Risks and Failures” and “No Forced Vaccination” animated digital message. Displayed on a giant 56 foot by 29 foot electronic screen in the heart of New York City’s Times Square Plaza at 1500 Broadway (where the ball drops on New Year’s Eve), NVIC’s 10-second spot celebrating the human right to freedom of thought and conscience will be broadcast a minimum of three times per hour for 20 hours per day from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. through April 2019. More than one million people pass through Times Square daily. View the digital ad on NVIC’s referenced Vaccinations: Know the Risks and Failures page on NVIC’s website here.
During the past decade, NVIC has sponsored national vaccine education campaigns to encourage well-informed, voluntary vaccine decisionmaking. In 2011, NVIC sponsored a digital vaccine education billboard in New York City’s Times Square on New Year’s Eve24 and produced a flu prevention video for Delta Airline’s in-flight programming.25 In 2013, NVIC launched a national vaccine education billboard and ad campaign that featured billboards on highways and buses New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Illinois, Texas, Georgia and Colorado, Vermont and other states.26 In 2015 and 2016, NVIC’s message advocating for vaccine education and choice was up in Times Square, as well.27 28
Founded by parents of DPT vaccine injured children in 1982 to prevent vaccine injuries and deaths through public education, NVIC has steadfastly defended respect for the informed consent principle and its protection in vaccine policies and laws because vaccines are pharmaceutical products that carry a risk of injury or death. More than $4 billion has been paid by the government since 1988 to children and adults who have been harmed by FDA licensed and CDC recommended vaccines under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986.29 Some people are biologically more susceptible to suffering vaccine reactions but doctors are unable to reliability predict who will be harmed before vaccination.30 This fact makes protection of personal belief vaccine exemptions even more important, as does the fact that Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court have shielded vaccine companies and vaccine administrators from liability for vaccine injuries and deaths.31 32
In a population of more than 320 million people, a few hundred cases of measles is not a public health emergency and should not be used to justify eliminating the legal right to exercise informed consent to vaccination, which is protected by the inclusion of flexible medical, religious and conscientious belief vaccine exemptions in public health laws.33
The human right to freedom of thought, speech, religious belief, conscience and informed consent will be preserved if Americans stand up for human rights that protect against tyranny. Only if we elect and support lawmakers who protect human rights will human rights be protected in government policy and law.
Whether it is in the states, on Capitol Hill or in Times Square, our mission continues: No forced vaccination. Not in America.
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Measles Cases in 2019. Feb. 1, 2019.
2 CDC. Vaccination Coverage for Selected Vaccines and Exemption Rates Among Children in Kindergarten — United States, 2017–18 School Year. MMWR Oct. 12, 2018; 67(4)): 1115-1122.
3 Fisher BL. The Vaccine Culture War in America: Are You Ready? National Vaccine Information Center Mar. 8, 2015.
4 Richardson D. Fallout from California SB277: What Happens Next? NVIC Newsletter Aug. 5, 2015.
5 Editorial Board. How to Inoculate Against Anti-Vaxxers. New York Times Jan. 11, 2019.
6 Cohen E, Bonifield J. Some states allow parents to get out of vaccinations. Then this happens. CNN Jan. 29, 2019.
7 Keneally M. Parents who don’t vaccinate kids tend to be affluent, better educated, experts say. ABC News Jan. 29, 2019.
8 Cáceres M. Media Takes Low Road by Pitting Children Against Their Parents To Promote Vaccines. The Vaccine Reaction Feb. 13, 2019.
9 National Vaccine Information Center. NVIC Advocacy Portal: 2019 State Legislative Session Vaccine-Related Bills.
10 CBS. Hundreds rally to preserve right not to vaccinate children amid measles outbreak. Feb. 8, 2019.
11 Douglass J. Oregon lawmaker wants to end non-medical exemptions to school vaccine requirements. KATU2 Feb. 11, 2019.
12 MacReady N. Questionable Medical Exemptions for Vaccines Up After New Law in California. Emedicine health Oct. 29, 2018.
13 CDC. Recommendations and Guidelines of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP): Contraindications and Precautions. Table 4-2. Conditions incorrectly perceived as contraindications or precautions to vaccination (i.e., vaccines may be given under these conditions). Jan. 10, 2019.
14 Fisher BL. The New Internet Police Protecting You From Freedom of Thought and Speech. NVIC Newsletter Dec. 3, 2018.
15 Ad Age. Google, Facebook Queried on Anti-Vaccine Information by Democrat. Feb. 14, 2019.
16 Najera RF. Measles Epidemic Continues and Grows in Washington State, New Cases in Houston, Texas. History of Vaccines Feb. 6, 2019.
17 Newsday. End the religious exemption for vaccines in New York. Editorial Feb 8, 2019.
18 Fisher BL. Forced Vaccination: The Tragic Legacy of Jacobson v. Massachusetts. National Vaccine Information Center Nov. 2, 2016.
19 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. United Nations General Assembly Dec. 10, 1948.
20 National Archives. America’s Founding Documents: The Bill of Rights.
21 Annas GJ, Grodin MA. The Nazi Doctors and the Nuremberg Code. Oxford University Press 1992.
22 U.S. Library of Medicine. Informed Consent – Adults. Medline Plus Jan. 28, 2019.
23 Fisher BL. Why Is Informed Consent to Vaccination a Human Right? National Vaccine Information Center June 28, 2017.
24 National Vaccine Information Center. NVIC Educates One Million Plus in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. NVIC Newsletter Dec. 26, 2011.
25 National Vaccine Information Center. Flu Prevention Video. November 2011.
26 National Vaccine Information Center. NVIC Launches National “Know the Risks” Billboard Vaccine Education Campaign. Mar. 12, 2013.
27 National Vaccine Information Center. NVIC’s “No Forced Vaccination” Message in Times Square, Philadelphia and New Jersey. Apr. 13, 2015.
28 National Vaccine Information Center. NVIC Back in Times Square for Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Dec. 17, 2015.
29 DHHS. National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program: Vaccine Injury Compensation Data. Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA) Feb. 1, 2019.
30 Institute of Medicine Committee to Review Adverse Effects of Vaccines. Evaluation of Biologic Mechanisms of Adverse Effects: Increased Susceptibility. Chapter 3 (p. 82). Washington, D.C. The National Academies Press 2012.
31 NVIC. National Vaccine Information Center Cites “Betrayal” of Consumers by U.S. Supreme Court Giving Total Liability Shield to Big Pharma. NVIC Press Release Feb. 23, 2011.
32 National Vaccine Information Center. NVIC Position Statement on National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986. May 2018.
33 Fisher BL. Guide to Reforming Vaccine Policy and Law. National Vaccine Information Center 2014, Revised 2017.