I need some help here please. I'm new to MDC, but I need some advice on how to handle my local health department in Washington County, Utah. I tried to get the exemption form (my girls have been vaxed up until about one year ago) from my local health department on Friday because my older twins start school this Friday. Well...first of all they told me I had to come back on Monday or Tuesday because "we treat that like immunizations" and that's the only days they do them. I asked for the paperwork so I could fill it out ahead of time because according to them I "should plan on being here a while because we will be really busy." But they would not even give me the papers, telling me I would have to fill them out when I came back. Oh - and by the way, it's $25 PER CHILD for the exemption! WHAT!? I was completely irate and found out that no one else I know has had to pay a fee.
Fast forward to yesterday when I tried to go into the office at 12:30, unloading all five of my toddlers only to find out that of course, they were closed for lunch - you've got to love the government! Then I return at 2:30 and the nurse informs me that I will have to come back today because they are not taking any more walk-ins. I tell her I just need an exemption form and she tells me they are $25. And get this - the lady in front of me had the same request and when told about the $25 fee she says, "Well, how much are the vaccinations?" Is that REALLY the reason she's choosing not to vaccinate? "Well, honey...let me fill you with all this poison - we can't afford not to!" AAGGGHH!
So I tell this nurse I want to speak to someone about this fee because I'm not going to pay it. She refers me to an administrator who informs me that this fee was voted on by the Board of Health via the County Commissioner's office and that I should talk to them. Phone call after phone call later, I still have no answers other than "we just had our board meeting today where there were members of the public present (gee...thanks for informing ME of this meeting!) and the board decided to uphold the fees as they are." And then she proceeded to explain the reasons behind the fee. She said that my county is the lowest funded public health department in the NATION, not just the state. I wanted to pull the bull sh** card, but she's just the secretary so I chose not to kill the messenger. Then she says that I have to pay the fee because I have to consult with a nurse (as if I'm some kind of idiot who didn't do any research about it and she's going to change my mind) and then the paperwork has to be filed and I have to be "followed" so that my kids can be pulled from school when there is an outbreak. Yeah, like I'm not educated enough to pull my kids from school when something happens - I'm going to wait for the government to tell me what to do! And all of these things cost money. Well boo-freakin-hoo! I'm not going to be penalized and discriminated against for choosing not to vaccinate my kids. What kinds of fees to the people who are vaccinating have to pay? Yeah, that's what I thought - nothing!
So as you can tell, I'm pretty pissed off about it. I really don't want my girls to have to miss their first day of school because of some beurocratic red tape, but I'm NOT paying their damn fee! I called the county commissioner and his office said they are looking into it but will not be able to get back with me until Friday morning at the earliest and the Health Officer is out on vacation for the week. How convenient.
At this point I'm just trying to bide my time until I can get a definite answer. What I really want is to change the whole fee issue, but I would settle for a fee waiver because I happen to not make a lot of money for my family of 7. I would be happy to put my kids in school if they would write out a $50 check to the health department.
But I called the school and the secretary told me (which I know for myself is incorrect) that I could download an exemption form online and have it notarized and that would cover it. I found out though that in Utah you have to have the form from the health department for it to count (go figure - so they can charge you some ridiculous fee!). But I had the forms notarized that I printed myself and I'm taking them to THIS secretary on Friday so I can at least buy myself some time until I get to the bottom of it.
So after my novel, my question is: do you have any recommendations? I am kind of at a loss for ideas other than what I've already done. Is there anything I can say to the powers that be that will help my case?
Thanks in advance for all your help. I know you guys will have some great ideas.