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Non-vaxing student and disclosure

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I'm part of a small private preschool in Michigan. We had a meeting of our board of directors tonight and I'm upset and concerned about a vaccination issue that came up. My internet research on vaccine waivers is coming up short, and I'm hoping someone can set the record strait.

Mom A announced to our group that we have a new student and that the family does not vaccinate. She questioned whether our policy allows for non-vaxers. Public school students (or I suppose their parents/guardians) in our state may sign a waiver in place of turning in vaccination records. Our tiny-privately funded school has the same policy, so there's no confusion here. It was just a question, not a judgement, however inappropriate for the forum (about 20% of our small school was there, really none of whom have any information or interest in this aspect of school administration.)

My real concern arose when Mom B voiced her frustration that others in our school would now be more susceptible to whooping cough and that it would be our responsibility to disclose the family's non-vaxing status to others in the new student's class and in the younger sibling's nursery. Mom B's child is in the new student's class and her youngest child also uses the sibling nursery on occasion. Her kids are always sick, and for prolongied periods, so perhaps she's more fearful of disease than the average person. Either way... Ugh.

Now first of all, Mom A should never have connected a name to a medical scenario before such a large group of parents. But, now it's out there. I'm appalled because I don't want this sweet new family to be or feel judged for their valid and lawful decision or offended that their privacy has been so badly violated.

I can't seem to find any information on disclosure of non-vaxing status to other families in a school community. I have to assume that it is illegal and unethical to disclose vaxing status of a child by name (or otherwise) unless a child (vaxed or not) comes down with a communicable disease, right?

And secondarily, I'm just so offended for this poor mama whom I helped bring into the school, in part by promoting our warm and welcoming community of parents. Do I owe her an apology or a heads up?
post #2 of 12

Was Mom A part of administration?  How was she privy to the fact that there was a family that did not vax?

post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Mom A collects paperwork and is the board representative for her class. Our school administration is run by parent volunteers and she's one of them. She either noticed the waiver, or lack thereof on a medical release form or was relaying a question from the new mom.
post #4 of 12

I would say that because Mom A identified the non-vaxxing family as the "new family" (thus everyone can figure out who the non-vaxxers are) she broke confidentiality.  As a school administrator, even a volunteer one, she is in the wrong.  

 

Ideally the non-vaxxing family should take it up with the school.  If possible, they should look up the federal rule that was broken, as well as the school rule that was broken.  If they are not interested in pursuing it, you could still write a letter saying you were very unhappy with the meeting, and the breech of confidentiality that took place.  You would need to think about whether this is appropriate - perhaps ask the family for their input?

 

A google search may be handy (try different strings - I used "confidentiality, vaccines, schools, usa").  Here is one link:

 

http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/pdf/ferpa-h1n1.pdf

 

Lastly, you could express compassion to your non-vaxxing friends - in a "sorry this happened to you" sort of way.  I don't think you did anything wrong.  It was Mom A who broke confidentiality and did something wrong.   


Edited by kathymuggle - 11/8/12 at 9:13am
post #5 of 12
Is the mom of the non-vaxxed kid aware that Mom A ratted her out? If not, I might take a slightly different approach.

When you next meet with these parents, tell them you did a little research and found the following:

1. In the state of Michigan, the mom is within her legal rights to file an exemption, even at a private school. www.nvic.org/Vaccine-Laws/state-vaccine-requirements/michigan.aspx

2. To reassure Mom B, explain that A) Michigan law requires the child to stay home in the event of an outbreak, (pertussis or otherwise), per the above link and B) the CDC has informed the public that the current outbreaks are caused by vaccine failure and not unvaccinated children. http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2012/0719_pertussis_epidemic.html

You can even avoid a debate-like tone and phrase it diplomatically: "Yea, I was kind of concerned about an outbreak, but I found some good news about that..."

3. If the mom is unaware of the breech of confidentiality, I honestly see no positive or productive end that could come of her knowing. As you mentioned, it will just create tension the entire time her child is enrolled.

In your shoes, here's how I would approach it with the other parents: "Hey, guys. We could get into some serious legal hot water for publicly dislosing another student's personal health information (per HIPAA and Kathy's link). What's done is done now, but it's probably a good idea to be discreet and not let on to this child's parents that we know..."

This will hopefully keep the parents quiet and off this poor woman's back for the rest of the year.

I hope this helps. Let us know how it turns out.
Edited by Turquesa - 11/8/12 at 8:58am
post #6 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Turquesa View Post

3. If the mom is unaware of the breech of confidentiality, I honestly see no positive or productive end that could come of her knowing. As you mentioned, it will just create tension the entire time her child is enrolled.
 

 

I don't know.  In the non-vaxxed mama's shoes, I would want to know that my families personal medical decisions were outed to 20% of the school.  I would not necessarily make a huge deal about it - but I would want an apology from Mom A and assurances that it would not happen again.  

post #7 of 12
Mom b needs to get a clue and a lesson in how to be discreet when you're privy to private information.
post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post

I don't know.  In the non-vaxxed mama's shoes, I would want to know that my families personal medical decisions were outed to 20% of the school.  I would not necessarily make a huge deal about it - but I would want an apology from Mom A and assurances that it would not happen again.  

I guess I'm seeing it from the standpoint of the non-vaxxing mom. If she find out and raises a stink, the BEST that can come of it is that the school apologizes and she spends the rest of the year with her kid enrolled in an antagonistic environment. By not telling the non-vaxxing mom, the school can still get a good and serious warning without making the mom's life hell.

Either way, hopefully the original poster has enough information that she can decide how she wishes to proceed. innocent.gif
post #9 of 12

I think the new mom has a right to know that other parents know about her child's vaccination status. I think that would be really sweet of you to let her know, and be there for her while she vents, and maybe even cries. I know I would be very upset and need a friend to talk to, if my privacy were violated in such a way.

 

I don't know about the privacy laws regarding medical info at private preschools in Michigan. If it wasn't illegal, it was certainly unethical for Mom A to disclose that info. The parents who were at that meeting should be informed right away that they could get the school in trouble if they spread that information.

 

Regarding Mom B's concerns, the CDC has said unvaccinated kids are not a cause of whooping cough outbreaks. Also, vaccinated kids can still carry and transmit the pertussis bacteria. They just don't (theoretically) get as sick.


Edited by ma2two - 11/8/12 at 4:51pm
post #10 of 12
I don't know if I got the mom a/mom b thing right in my post, but FTR if it wasn't clear I think the comments disclosing private information were bogus.

I also would want to know if I were the parent of the unvaccinated child.
post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Turquesa View Post


I guess I'm seeing it from the standpoint of the non-vaxxing mom. If she find out and raises a stink, the BEST that can come of it is that the school apologizes and she spends the rest of the year with her kid enrolled in an antagonistic environment. By not telling the non-vaxxing mom, the school can still get a good and serious warning without making the mom's life hell.
Either way, hopefully the original poster has enough information that she can decide how she wishes to proceed. innocent.gif

 

Yeah, but I think that she is going to spend the rest of the year in the antagonistic environment anyway. Does anyone really think that some of those 20% are not going to talk about this, and complain to other parents and the school that she is somehow putting their kids in danger? That there won't be the whispers when she drops them off in the morning? Or when one of the kids has a runny nose--first thing some parents will do is think, ack, communicable disease--and demand that the kid stays home, no matter how minor the ailment. You don't think this will affect how her kids are treated? Will all of the parents of their classmates be as welcoming as they might have been previously? By identifying the kids by name and saying they are not vaccinated, Mom A might as well have put a big red letter on them. Mom B stated that she thinks the board has a responsibility to notify everyone in the new kids' classes about their vaccination status.

 

Personally, if someone had disclosed my kids' personal health info (including vaccination status) in a school meeting, I'd want to know. I'd want to be prepared for any potential backlash from other parents. Even when we start selectively vaxing, my kids will never be UTD with the recommended schedule. But this is no one's business except for school admin and our GP. It's definitely not for general knowledge among other parents. I wouldn't dream about having access to the confidential health info of any other kids at the school. It's not my business. Simple.

 

Oh and heads would roll at the school. I wouldn't stop with an apology. Mom A would not be on the board any longer. I don't care how many letters I'd have to write to the higher ups. That was a serious breach of confidentiality. 


Edited by japonica - 11/9/12 at 1:53am
post #12 of 12

Is this a preschool for 4-5 year olds that is attached to an actual school for older kids or is it a daycare that calls itself a preschool? If it's a daycare then I would write her a very, very nice letter explaining the situation and apologizing. If it's a school I would contact an attorney before notifying her. EIther way it's a serious breech of confidential medical information if I was in her shoes I would file a lawsuit. 

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