Recently Virginia has been in the homeschool news for refusing to give homeschooled children the H1N1 vaccine. I’m going to rant a little. May I remind the state of Virginia that just because we choose to keep our children out of public school (and that includes privately schooled children, however, I do not know if they faced the same discrimination) doesn’t mean we are exempt from paying taxes. My husband’s tax dollars have a chunk taken out so each public schooled child can receive an average of $9,963 for schooling. We get NONE of that. His tax dollars also go towards the research and development of the vaccine itself.
And since when is it even ethical to prevent some children from receiving a vaccine, when other children of the same age, grade, and health status can receive it? To deny a child the access to a vaccine just because he isn’t schooled in the public system is morally wrong. Deny pencils? Sure. Deny something that the government thinks can save lives? Outrageous.
Alexandria officials claimed, “that it was the school’s property, and they could decide who comes on it.” That is completely ridiculous. We’re not talking about soccer games here. A southwest Virginia area official told one mom, “We’re saving the vaccine for public school students.” Again, horrifying! What if they had said, “we’re saving the vaccine for students who can see” or “we’re saving the vaccine for white students.” All three are discriminatory since no one can claim ownership of a public vaccine. We are not second-class citizens. Their reactions should have been, “oh wow, you’re right, we need to figure out a way for every eligible child to be vaccinated.” But it’s not their problem is it? Let someone else worry about that.
I don’t know the true motives of these officials in Virginia, but to me it seems like some people are brooding (and breeding) some hatred towards kids who don’t follow the leader or go with the flow. OR, maybe they just have their heads in the sand and don’t think broadly enough about issues. I cannot see any excuse or explanation as being a valid one on this issue.
Whether I choose to vaccinate my homeschooled child is my choice. But if other kids have the ability to be vaccinated mine should have that exact same ability. End of story. Am I missing something? I would welcome any official from Virginia to try to give me an explanation as to why it is ok to deny some children the right to receive a public vaccine.
If you are interested in the full context and the follow-up of the issue please read the article below. It is taken in its entirety from the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) Website and can be found here: “We’re Saving the Vaccine For Public School Students” It states that as of now homeschooled children should be able to get the vaccine at public health departments. But should it have even been an issue to begin with?
A southwest Virginia mother of two brought her children to the public health department for an H1N1 vaccination. They told her, “We’re saving the vaccine for public school students.” A northern Virginia mom asked the Alexandria school system if her kids could be vaccinated with the others. They promptly rebuffed her.
What does HSLDA have to do with flu vaccinations? Everything—if homeschoolers are being discriminated against.
HSLDA Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff called the Alexandria officials, but they refused to budge, insisting that it was the school’s property, and they could decide who comes on it. For the mom at the other end of the state, Woodruff called a state health department official, who promptly placed a call to southwest Virginia, and the homeschooled children got the vaccinations. One of her children had a respiratory issue.
Woodruff followed up with the state official and asked if unvaccinated children would get priority treatment at local public health departments consistent with their status as members of a “target group” the Center for Disease Control has identified. The surprising answer: no. She said that homeschooled children—who don’t have access to all the convenient public school vaccination events—would have to get in line and be treated like people who are not in a target group.
Confronted with this totally unsatisfactory situation, Woodruff sent a memo to the state commissioner of health.
This began a chain of events that lead to a statewide conference call with Woodruff, Yvonne Bunn of Home Educators Association of Virginia, Parish Mort of Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers, Dr. Karen Remley, state commissioner of health, Dr. Diane Helentjaris, state office of epidemiology, and others. Woodruff asked Remley to instruct local public health departments to set aside special times each week when unvaccinated children would receive priority treatment. Bunn and Mort agreed that more needed to be done for homeschooled children.
Remley made no commitment during the conference call, but a few days later she agreed with Woodruff’s request and began instructing public health departments to set up (at least) weekly pediatric vaccination clinics.
Many parents have good reasons to not vaccinate their children. But for those who want it, they can now expect their children, as members of a target group, to have equitable access when the vaccine is available at public health departments.
In a follow up conference call, Remley said that she expects there will be enough vaccine for everyone who wants it by December. Until then, the key word is patience.