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PA and vaccine exemptions

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 
My daughter will start kindergarten this fall and I just realized that hep B is a required immunization for entry to school whether it is private or public.

She is going to a private school that receives no federal or state money but according to what I read on the law in PA yesterday, she still has to have it. I fully vaxed her except for hep B so I don't know how I could ask for an exemption on religious/moral grounds and I don't think she would get a medical exemption but I really don't want to give her hep B.

I have MS and believe the hep B vaccine was a trigger for it. After the 2nd shot I developed my 1st MS symptoms and they came back after the 3rd shot also. Then years later when I had my 1st (and last) flu shot, I went into full blown MS so I never want them to have flu shots either. My dr. goes along with this no problem but when I first told him the reason I didn't want her to have it, he told me fine but that there is no evidence on the hep B affecting MS.

So, I'm wondering if anyone has ever done an exemption for partial vaccination? I couldn't find anywhere that it said that was ok. I did find that PA allows for a strong moral conviction as a reason for not vaxing but can't see how I could apply that to missing 1 vaccination.

Thanks for any help.
post #2 of 40
I am sure you can follow a religious exeption. No one is able to ask you about your religion and unlike a medical exemption, your religion can't be sent for a second opinion. Also, you can find religion at any given time, even after you have vaccinated prior.

I hope this helps...please though, go over to Dr. Mayer Eisenstein's site at homefirst dot com. He has a free webinar on how to write your own vaccine waiver.
post #3 of 40
Though a medical exemption is virtually impossible to get in PA, your situation is one in which you might have a shot (excuse the pun). Otherwise, an ethical/religious exemption is quite easy to get in PA except in parochial schools. The difficulty you would run into is if you plan to give her any other vaccines from now on. There is no need to disclose the vaccines she has had thus far if you currently have an ethical/religious objection to vaccinating her.
post #4 of 40
The way I would look at it is that you have a strong moral objection to harming your child. You believe that some vaccinations will harm her (HepB & Flu), therefore, you refuse to give her those vaccinations. Other vaccines, which you do not believe will harm her, you are willing to give her.

I am in a semi-similar boat, although my vaccine that I object to is Pertussis (DH had a classic adverse reaction as a baby and despite all the Dr's saying "it's different now" which I know is true, we are not going to give our kids anything with Pertussis vax in it.) We homeschool so it's not quite as big a deal (yet).
post #5 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mamabeakley View Post
The way I would look at it is that you have a strong moral objection to harming your child. You believe that some vaccinations will harm her (HepB & Flu), therefore, you refuse to give her those vaccinations. Other vaccines, which you do not believe will harm her, you are willing to give her.

I am in a semi-similar boat, although my vaccine that I object to is Pertussis (DH had a classic adverse reaction as a baby and despite all the Dr's saying "it's different now" which I know is true, we are not going to give our kids anything with Pertussis vax in it.) We homeschool so it's not quite as big a deal (yet).
Unfortunately this option is not available in PA. The exemption requires that your objection be to vaccination, not to a particular vaccine. Therefore "selective vaccinators" (and there are many) have to tread carefully when taking the exemption.
post #6 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamajake View Post
Unfortunately this option is not available in PA. The exemption requires that your objection be to vaccination, not to a particular vaccine. Therefore "selective vaccinators" (and there are many) have to tread carefully when taking the exemption.
yeah, that is what I'm concerned about.

I'm going to ask the ped. at her appt in August if he would consider a medical exemption but I have a feeling he won't do it. So I guess I have to think of a way to word a moral conviction that is, well, something I believe. I don't feel like I can say something religious or whatever that would fulfill the requirement that I don't truly believe. sigh...
post #7 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mom2M View Post
yeah, that is what I'm concerned about.

I'm going to ask the ped. at her appt in August if he would consider a medical exemption but I have a feeling he won't do it. So I guess I have to think of a way to word a moral conviction that is, well, something I believe. I don't feel like I can say something religious or whatever that would fulfill the requirement that I don't truly believe. sigh...
No worries there. Remember the PA "religious" exemption is really an ethical exemption. I have never written more than a paragraph restating the law and I am an atheist so religion has never played a role. Never had a problem.
post #8 of 40
Your doctor may give you a form, like mine did, that you can sign. Be very careful that you read the wording. The form stated that even though I refused the vaccinations, I did this knowing I would be harming my child.

Please go watch the link I sent (posted) Dr. Eisenstein is a doctor and lawyer. It is great info to have.
post #9 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by PinkinPA View Post
Your doctor may give you a form, like mine did, that you can sign. Be very careful that you read the wording. The form stated that even though I refused the vaccinations, I did this knowing I would be harming my child.

Please go watch the link I sent (posted) Dr. Eisenstein is a doctor and lawyer. It is great info to have.
I can't get to any waiver writing video on Eisenstein's site without becoming a member. Am I missing something?

In PA, less is more in writing exemptions. Generally I do no more than check the exemption box on the Dept of Health school form (this is what we submit to meet the physical requirement for homeschoolers in PA). If a doctor asked me to sign a form concerning my vax choice, I would change doctors. The exemptions/requirements apply to schools and school age children reporting to school districts. There is no legal requirement to justify your decision to anyone else, including your doctor.

Of course doctors can refuse to treat if you refuse the schedule. So then you find one the accepts your choice. Not always easy but doable.
post #10 of 40
I don't know about the membership on Dr. E's website. I didn't become a member for anything when I watched it..I'll check it out.

Quote:
If a doctor asked me to sign a form concerning my vax choice, I would change doctors.
I was referring to when I asked for a vaccine exemption form from her. She is a vax friendly ped, but the form wasn't vax friendly. I had heard that vax waivers could be obtained from a doc, so I asked. The form is what prompted me to look into the waiver issue.

Hope this clears up any misunderstanding

Well, I hopped over to homefirst and I signed up for a customer account. I don't remember doing this before.

All it asked me for was my name and email address. You will also be asked if you want to receive thir newsletter. I alread get it to my email. It's pretty good.
post #11 of 40
Thread Starter 
I remember I had to sign something when she was born for refusing the hep B and then afterward for a few of the well baby visits I had to keep signing a form for it but then they stopped. I don't think it said that I knew it would do harm to my child, I think it just said that I was informed and that I refused.

I cannot find the form that I'm supposed to have the doctor fill out for her school so I guess I will call and get another one sent to me.
If it just has a box to check then that's what I'll do. I read some sample letters for vax exemptions and some of them seemed like they would draw a lot of attention to them and I'm hoping to kind of slip it in under the radar.

Why does this have to be complicated?
post #12 of 40
Our SD accepted a few word signed statement by our ped right on their health form that I brought to the appt. So they basically signed off on my ethical objection. ymmv. That was plenty for the school. Very much agreed w/ the less is more.
post #13 of 40
Medical exemptions require medical information which would almost certainly come from doctors. Doctors themselves don't grant the exemption because in PA the vax requirement (and so then the exemptions) are administered by schools, though the obligation is technically imposed by the Dept of Health. So a doc writing something for a medical exemption you plan to claim couldn't also claim you are hurting your child.

I think there may be some confusion between exemptions and notices of informed consent. Some docs require signature on a form stating he has informed you of the risks but you are still not vaxing. Docs claim that is for liability reasons but it is really a scare tactic. Regardless such a form has nothing to do with an exemption which is something you don't need to face until your child is going to school. If you homeschool in PA, you don't need to deal with exemptions until your child is 8.

@orangecanoe, your doc doesn't have anything to do with your getting an ethical exemption so you didn't need *any* signature from him.

Hope that helps. No need to be frightened about getting ethical exemptions in PA unless your child is going to a parochial school. Really.
post #14 of 40
Quote:
So a doc writing something for a medical exemption you plan to claim couldn't also claim you are hurting your child.
I can give you the peds information and you can ask for a slip yourself. It was a vaccine exeption form. I'm not confused about anything I read. I may even have a spare lying around I'd be glad to look for and mail it off to you.

This wasn't a form she wrote herself, it was a generic prewritten form.
post #15 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by PinkinPA View Post
I can give you the peds information and you can ask for a slip yourself. It was a vaccine exeption form. I'm not confused about anything I read. I may even have a spare lying around I'd be glad to look for and mail it off to you.

This wasn't a form she wrote herself, it was a generic prewritten form.
I'm not questioning that you got that form. I am saying the form was not a "medical exemption" for purposes of schooling in PA.
post #16 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamajake View Post
Medical exemptions require medical information which would almost certainly come from doctors.....


@orangecanoe, your doc doesn't have anything to do with your getting an ethical exemption so you didn't need *any* signature from him.
What I was trying to impart is that you don't necessarily have to go overboard and jump through the hoops to get an official exemption of either type. IIRC the health form the doc signed simply stated Hep B series not being given and that was good enough for the school. The doc did *not* go so far as to indicate this was an official medical exemption.

I have also signed the refusal to vax notice at the ped's office on several occasions and it even has it's own ICD-9 code in my kid's charts. Big whoop. I found that when I didn't make a big deal out of it, they didn't make a big deal out of it and yes every time I get the "you aren't doing the blankety blank shots?" and I say no and that's that. ymmv.
post #17 of 40
on hepB causing or not causing off-the-wall symptoms....i developed IBS, and was dx'd with asthma (though i believe i had it before, it just got slightly worse) after the 3rd hepB (i was 21, so nearly 5yrs ago) which comes and goes, also that whole summer after the 3rd one (and well after) was exhausted, no energy, headaches, dizzy, lightheaded, upset stomach.....yet "its a coincidence"
dd, at her 9mos appt, got her 3rd hepB. that night we went to the ER bc DH and i heard an extra sound in her heart and she was acting more lethargic than normal (for after any shot - we selectively/delay vaxing since DH is pro we compromised). 6wks later we have 2 dx - physiologic split S-2 (normal, all tests were normal thankfully), and autonomic cyanosis (exaggerated physical response to something, basically its like when you are in the pool and your lips turn blue, only she's not cold, but we've ruled out cardiac/respiratory so just keeping an eye out for the next couple months till her next appt to see if we notice anything else). again, "its' a coincidence" -- never mind that no one, in all the appts since birth, hospital stay @birth, appts before birth, dh (emt) listening to her heart at least once a week....no one has heard anything prior to that night, and even that morning at the ped appt there was no sign of it and she was totally healthy, "it's a coincidence". fortunatly these conditions seem to be normal and have not caused any other issues. yet. i keep waiting for the other shoe to drop....
on the refusal forms.....i just crossed out the part about harming my child and initialed next to it like the NP told me to when i said i was not comfortable with the wording.
post #18 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mom2M View Post
So, I'm wondering if anyone has ever done an exemption for partial vaccination? I couldn't find anywhere that it said that was ok. I did find that PA allows for a strong moral conviction as a reason for not vaxing but can't see how I could apply that to missing 1 vaccination.

Thanks for any help.
I'm also curious if others have done this? We are now transitioning to private schools from homeschooling and I was looking at the medical form for the schools and I'm wondering if this is an all or nothing statement we need to make with the exemption? I stopped the vaccinations about 13 years ago. I'm still trying to figure out if we are not going to do any more or not?
Will the dr. fill in the vaccines we did way back when (we are in a new state with a new dr since vaccinations), or will she just check the exemption box? Their ped was pushing the chicken pox and tetanus so I have to make decisions and I would like to know (so I can make peace with it) it this is going to be an all or nothing deal with the shots?
Thanks!
post #19 of 40
My Mother died of a rare neurological disease that is very similar to Parkinsons at the age of 51. So it's in the same ballpark as MS and I can sympathize with you since my Mother's illness is the reason we want to limit Aluminum exposure through vaccines as much as possible. Both my Mom's illness and MS have been linked to heavy metal exposure. So IMO that reason alone is enough for you to choose not to vaccinate and get a medical exemption.

If I were you I would tell your doctor that the hep B shot contains neurological toxins that have been linked to MS. So even if there were no evidence of Hep B vax being linked to MS (this seems to be up for debate in the vax'ing community) you still don't feel comfortable exposing your dd to it especially since it did bring on your symptoms. I would also bring with you Dr. Sears Vaccine Book and turn to pg 56 where it lists MS as a neurological reaction to the vaccine and it also says

"(has been reported to occur after the hep B vaccine; people with MS are cautioned in the Engerix package insert to get the vaccine only if their risk of exposure to hep B warrants it)

So I DO think you have cause for a medical exemption. I hope that helps you fight the doctor a bit.
post #20 of 40
I am in the same situation as you are. My DD has all of the vaccines except for Hep B.

Here is an excerpt from the PA Code:
(b) Religious exemption. Children need not be immunized if the parent, guardian or emancipated child objects in writing to the immunization on religious grounds or on the basis of a strong moral or ethical conviction similar to a religious belief.

I simply wrote a brief letter quoting the code and said that we as parents have a strong moral and ethical conviction that prohibits us from having our daughter vaccinated for Hep B. Noone questioned us. It was not a big deal at all. Generally I've found that if you quote the code, then there is not much they can argue with. It's not really their business what your moral or ethical reasons are. Good luck!
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