Why do US parents have fewer rights on vaccination than in Canada, the UK, and China?

 

In the late 1970′s, Max-Vax advocates in the USA began to eliminate checks-and-balances on vaccine decisions by requiring children be fully vaccinated in order to attend preschool/daycare or to receive welfare benefits.  Checks-and-balances were further weakened by the 1986 National Vaccine Injury Compensation Act, which protects vaccine manufacturers against lawsuits.  USA Pro-Vax advocates are now pushing for forced vaccination without the right of exemption to remove the final checks on the power of the pro-vax advocates.  Yet in Canada, there is constitutional protection against forced vaccination.  In the UK, doctors consider forced-vaccination to be unethical (http://news.scotsman.com/health/Doctors-reject-calls-for-enforced.6396439.jp).  And in China, a communist country, the Deputy Director for Disease Control stated in September 2010 that “no child would be forced to take the vaccination and that admission to school should never be used to force children to vaccinate”.  (see China mass measles vaccination plan sparks outcry).

In Canada, vaccination for children is not compulsory.  In all Canadian provinces and territories, the right to fully informed consent and right to refuse vaccination is guaranteed by the Constitutional Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  In three provinces, Ontario, New Brunswick and Manitoba, parents who refuse any or all vaccinations simply fill in a form, have it stamped by a notary, and deliver it to their child’s school.  Schools cannot refuse admission to any child on the basis of vaccination status.

The Canadian Constitution Act was signed into law by Queen Elizabeth II in 1982 and came into effect in 1985.  The Charter echoes the post-WW II Universal Declaration of Human Rights and was inspired by national fervor after the 1967 Canadian Centennial.  The Charter is explicit (Section 2) with respect to the guarantee or civil and political rights and freedoms of belief and life.  These fundamental freedoms apply to government laws and actions at all levels:  federal, provincial, municipal governments, public school boards and publicly funded daycare centers.

But in the early 1980s, it was still up to concerned parents to challenge provincial legislation that was not based on the new Charter.  In 1982, the Committee Against Compulsory Vaccination protested against the new Ontario Immunization of School Pupils Act because it failed to provide exemptions from vaccination.  In their Brief to the government, the Committee pointed to both the Charter and the unshackled liberty guaranteed by the US Bill of Rights and ultimately won these exemptions.  An amendment to the Ontario Act was passed in Dec. 1984. Both the Immunization of School Pupils Act (section 3) and the Day Nurseries Act (section 33 of Regulation 262 issued under the Act) extend to parents the legal right to exempt their children from vaccinations. The Committee Against Compulsory Vaccination became the Vaccine Risk Awareness Network (VRAN) in 1984 http://vran.org/about/history-of-vran/

Vaccination exemptions guaranteed in Ontario law became a precedent for all other Canadian provinces and territories. Regulations allow for the exclusion of unvaccinated children from school during outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. This has rarely been invoked.

It should be noted that the vaccine delivery system in Canada is institutionalized.  Pressures on parents to vaccinate their children may overwhelm their hesitation or stifle their unanswered questions. Knowledge of the right to exemption is often withheld and children threatened with expulsion from school. Under Canadian medical laws consent to any medical procedure must be fully informed and a choice made without coercion. Disclosure of risks, benefits and alternatives to any medical procedure must be made available in order for consent to be given.  Canadians are not required to sign a document to this effect for vaccination.  In the event of an adverse event, the only province to have a compensation plan is Quebec.