Anti-vaccine advocates Lisa Jillani (r) and Michael Horwin (l), who both said they both believed parents had the right to choose vaccines for their children, came to the General Assembly to protest on Tuesday.
Anti-vaccine advocates Lisa Jillani (r) and Michael Horwin (l), who both said they both believed parents had the right to choose vaccines for their children, came to the General Assembly to protest on Tuesday. Photo credit: Rose Hoban


By Rose Hoban

In the wake of legislators filing a new bill that would all but remove religious exemptions from childhood vaccinations for schoolchildren, several dozen opponents of vaccine mandates descended on Jones Street Tuesday to protest the measure.

Standing in front of the General Assembly Tuesday morning with a sign reading “Stop Medical Terrorism,” Lisa Jillani, who heads a Charlotte-based organization called People Advocating Vaccine Education, called the bill “draconian.”

Anti-vaccine advocates Lisa Jillani (r) and Michael Horwin (l), who both said they both believed parents had the right to choose vaccines for their children, came to the General Assembly to protest on Tuesday.
Anti-vaccine advocates Lisa Jillani (r) and Michael Horwin (l), who both said they both believed parents had the right to choose vaccines for their children, came to the General Assembly to protest on Tuesday. Photo credit: Rose Hoban

“I have religious exemption to vaccinations, and contrary to what Jeff Tarte says it’s not a bogus exemption; it is my personally held religious belief that I should not vaccinate myself or my children,” Jillani said.

When asked her religious denomination, Jillani said she had none. She said she has a “very, very close relationship with God. I pray every day. I see God’s guidance in everything. And there is no way… I will go to any lengths to keep myself and my children unvaccinated.”

Bill sponsor Sen. Jeff Tarte (R-Cornelius) said he understood that people have their personal beliefs and that those can be the basis for not getting a child vaccinated. But he also said the state has an interest in seeing that schoolchildren get vaccinated.

“You have a loud vocal group who has a position and you have others who have other positions,” Tarte said. “There’s probably multiple positions in this particular issue. But it’s also important [to ask], ‘How do we balance individual rights with the greater good in the case of the whole population?’”

Jillani was not so sure about the obligations of parents with regard to the rest of the population.

“It will probably sound cold to say this, but it’s each parent’s responsibility to protect their child,” she said. “If my child were immune-compromised, I would never expect another parent to have a procedure performed that might risk their child just to protect mine.”

Competing rights

The issue of parents’ rights was on the mind of Kerri Pechin, who came to the legislature from Youngsville with most of her eight children. Only the oldest two of her children are vaccinated, and one of her children was holding up a sign reading: “Don’t confuse the real issue, it’s not about safety, it’s about a parent’s right to choose.”

“I gave birth to these children and I believe in God,” Pechin said. “He made human beings. He gave these children to me, he did not give them to the state.”

She pointed at the grassy field behind the legislative building and said, “As far as I know, they were not born in the middle of this field by the state.”

Pechin also said she doesn’t try to tell others not to vaccinate their children, that the decision should be a parent’s choice.

But according to civil libertarians, the issue is murkier, said Sarah Preston, the governmental affairs representative for the ACLU of North Carolina, which has not taken a position for or against the bill.

“While parents have wide leeway in how they bring up their children, the state unquestionably has a compelling interest in protecting children from dangerous diseases,” Preston said.

She said the ACLU is monitoring the bill closely for changes in the language that might alter her organization’s stance.

“At the moment, we think that the bill as written appropriately balances those interests,” Preston said.

She said things that might alter the ACLU’s position would be changes to the number of diseases vaccinated against, how effective those vaccines are and how dangerous the diseases vaccinated against are.

She also said her organization would have an issue if the bill attempted to extend the vaccine requirement to people who homeschool their children.

Opposition anticipated

Sen. Terry Van Duyn (D-Asheville), another of the bill’s sponsors, said she had expected opposition to the bill. She said she’s sympathetic to people’s fears, as she has a son who is autistic, that she is firm on the public health issues.

“In the county where I live, we have pockets of the population where vaccination opt-out rates are as high as 30 percent,” she said. “[Public health officials] talk about how as a state we have 95 percent vaccination rates, but that’s the average. That doesn’t tell the whole story.”

Van Duyn also said she’s heard from many of her constituents who are unhappy with her sponsorship of the bill.

“I understand that they’re concerned, but I’m hoping that they’re willing to stick it out with me as we get more information and find a way to thread the needle,” she said. “It’s not my intention to make people do anything; it’s my intention to get more people vaccinated to protect our kids.”

Both Van Duyn and Tarte said the hearing process would be deliberate and transparent. Tarte said hearings would take place in the coming weeks, and that they were lining up experts to speak on the bill.

“We want sunlight on the process. I’m hoping when we’re all done, that [people] will be happy with the process,” Van Duyn said, “even if they may or may not be happy with the outcome.”

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9 replies on “Vaccine Exemption Bill Draws Objections”

  1. Maybe the Senators woule benefit from learning about all the corruption in vaccine industry – research Merck MMR whistleblowers and CDC whistleblower. Or that if you have an adverse reaction to a vaccine you cannot sue the manufacturer; this is about people’s rights. If a product is not safe and effective it should be a choice, not forced. NC residents should vote out Senators who want to remove parents’ rights, especially when they are being led by an such corrupt industry pushing the removal of those rights.

  2. A court in Milan (Milan November 2014) insisted that GSK disclose a 1271 page ‘CONFIDENTAIL TO REGULATORY AUTHORITIES’ document concerning the clinical trials for Infanrix Hexa vaccine. It contained a record of 5 cases of autism which were omitted from the list of adverse events that were submitted for marketing authorisation. The judgement made was “clearly established a causal link between the vaccination and the disease”.
    The report also identified thousands of serious adverse events during the clinical trials including 22 deaths, 21 eating disorders, 47 sleep disorders, 169 loss of consciousness, 22 encephalitis, etc, etc.
    GSK and the Regulatory Authorities had always stated that the vaccine is safe!

  3. ALL vaccines are SAFE and EFFECTIVE! They have been approved following clinical trials.
    Then why were the following withdrawn?
    Trivirix MMR vaccine made by GSK Canada caused meningitis, Plusrix MMR vaccine made by GSK UK caused meningitis, Immravax MMR vvacine made by Aventis Pasteur caused meningitis, Rotashield rotavirus vaccine made by Wyeth Lederle caused bowel obstruction, Polio vaccine made by Medeva caused vCJD, the human form of mad cow disease, Lymerix Lyme disease vaccine made by GSK caused Lyme disease and severe arthritis, BCG vaccine made by PowderJect did not meet the end-of-shelf-life specification, Imovax hepatitis B, polio and Haemophilus influenzae type B made by Aventis Pasteur tested positive for the live vaccine, Hexovac diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough vaccine made by Sanofi Merck provided inadequate protection, PedvaxHIB haemophilus influenzae type B vaccine made by Merck was contaminated with a bacteria called Bacillus cereus, Comvax haemophilius B and hepatitis B vaccine made by Merck was contaminated with a bacteria called Bacillus cereus, Menjugate meningitis C vaccine made by Novartis was infected with bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, Fluvax flu vaccine made by CSL caused seizures, Preflucel flu vaccine made by Baxter Healthcare caused fatigue, muscle pain and headaches and Pandemrix flu vaccine made by GSK caused narcolepsy.
    Worse than all of the above is the HPV vaccines. But for now the HPV vaccines are still considered safe (by the authorities – not by most parents!)

    1. Are you getting all that from inserts? Because inserts list anything that happens during the clinical trial “without regard to causation.”

  4. As a small child our daughter had a severe reaction to the MMR vaccine. It was immediately followed by a dose of full blown measles, two weeks later admitted to an isolation ward with suspect meningitis and followed by a large lump (lymph node) in her neck which persisted for 9 months until removed by surgery. we understand why so many wanted to pay privately for single vaccines which are no longer available in the UK. She didn’t have the 2nd shot or booster.
    When at age 12 we were asked to sign a consent form for the HPV vaccine we decided not to take the risk but the school nurse explained to mum that it was nothing like the MMR vaccine, safe and your are denying your daughter a life saving vaccine so she consented. What ignorance or lies!

    Our daughter had an immediate reaction, couldn’t say awake and was full of pain. After 4 months the long sleeps (up to 23 hours each day) turned into a 13 week coma. After 4 years of severe disability, pain, hyper somnolence and missed education there is stil no help from the NHS who tried to blame the family twice for Munchausen’s.

    We investigated and found out that there were c.3000 SERIOUS adverse events (SAE) during the clinical trials but marketing was approved because it was considered that the benefit outweighed the risk!!!!

    We also found out that cervical cancer cases have come down from 8 to 2/100,000 over the last 40 years with no vaccine. Deaths are 2/100,000 and should be zero within 10 years at this rate – WITH NO VACCINE.

    For those that don’t want unvaccinated childern to be allowed to attend school or think their parents are being unreasonable – THINK AGAIN.

    1. Steve, I am sorry for your daughter’s health issues but it is not hard to
      figure out that the MMR does not lead to meningitis. Your daughter
      likely caught wild measles and then meningitis. And then, years later,
      well after she had her third hpv shot, she developed chronic fatigue
      syndrome, a not uncommon recurring side effect of meningitis. So, please
      stop blaming vaccines for your daughter’s health woes. Blame meningitis
      and fight for a cure and a vaccine to cover all types.

  5. Correction to paragraph 4: I said I would go to any lengths to keep myself & my children UNvaccinated. Can you please make the correction? –Lisa Jillani

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