Sunday, April 20, 2014

Health Department Shenanigans

I recently had a fairly bizarre trip to the health department in my area. Though we homeschool, we chose to use a private umbrella school for our official paperwork. This choice means we have to also file paperwork regarding vaccines or lack thereof. I will get into the illegality of this in a minute, but most people like us choose not to fight it because we want to be left alone to teach our children.

So I tried to make an appointment for a couple of weeks. Problem is that the staff would only make an appointment on one particular day of the week and they did not fill their entire daily hours with appointments. They might open at 8 AM, but only see people after 9 or 10 AM. They insisted that walk ins not be taken at all. They also insisted on calling the day of the appointment to make the appointment IF they had time for us. This took a few tries to get an appointment.

The appointment time rolls around and I was right on time. The place was mostly deserted. I thought this might be a positive sign since my goal was to get in and get out ASAP. We just moved and my to do list was growing daily. I filled out paperwork and was told that it would cost $40, $20 per school age child, to get the form signed by the nurse. (This does deny my children a free and appropriate education.)

Though I did not give our social security information, as it is not required and the less information the health department has the better off we are, they still looked up the children's vaccine history. (Yes, before our injuries and subsequent research we did vaccinate. Now we know it is against our religious beliefs and can harm our children further.) I did not give permission to look this information up PLUS I sent certified letters to the state shots program several years ago to opt out of the database they automatically keep. (The database violates HIPAA as the children cannot consent to their information being given and I surely won't consent on their behalf as they deserve their rights under HIPAA. Plus vaccines are not 100% effective so EVERYONE should assume they can get a disease regardless of vaccine status.) THEN the employee, I have no idea what her title was to be honest, tried to convince me to pay for the vaccine records because they are cheaper than the exemption. You see, if I did this, the kids would be compliant for a year until the older one is in seventh grade. Then, I would have to come back for the exemption form anyway. I am sure this is one of those tactics the AAP and others list so they can try to convince people to vaccinate without actually investigating pertinent health information about the products. So I explained to the employee that religion does not change because she wanted me to purchase a cheaper form ($10 per form instead of $20 per form) and vaccinate in the future.

Eventually I was called back to meet with a nurse who also had someone else, perhaps a trainee or witness?, standing there watching us. She was very bubbly which is fine. So was I. She handed me a pamphlet that said something about immunizations, the CDC notes that these are reactions our bodies have and are not the same as vaccines, that indicated the health department considers this term the same as vaccines. She began to tell me about "immunizations" and I kindly corrected her. She began to discuss children being kept from school if an outbreak happens and I again stopped her and explained that we homeschool and that ANYONE, regardless of vaccination status, can get a disease. She went into an explanation of why she forced her child to get a chicken pox vaccine as an older child and how she got a "lesser form" of the disease when chicken pox went around. I remarked how vaccines clearly do not work if the fully vaccinated are coming down with the disease. She really had nothing to say after that, but I did give information about one of my children's reactions to the chicken pox vaccine and HER subsequent "slight" case of the disease as well. I hated to do this, but gave the information without saying which child had the issue. I should probably mention at this point that it is really a non-issue to have vaccine records on file with schools since, again, ANYONE can come down with a disease regardless of vaccination status. Having these files in a school IS a violation of HIPAA through coercion of parents.

I think at this point the nurse decided she probably should just move things along so we both signed the forms and I headed to the checkout. She noted that this is a parent's right and I thought to myself that I am only protecting my children's rights. That is a responsibility, not a right of a parent. But I didn't bother wasting my time on that discussion. As I paid the $40 for these forms which violate so many laws, I chatted a bit with the employees. They were very nice, as was I, but one of them did eventually ask if my son is autistic. You see, he refused to meet their gaze, would not speak to them or respond at all, etc. He was very well behaved compared to how he can behave. And, yes, he does have special needs, but it was not their place to ask. He has NOT been diagnosed with autism, though. If I had suggested such a thing to a parent when I was a public school teacher in this very same state, I could have been fired and my county sued for the costs of medical testing and treatment of the child. This issue was stressed often when I taught and we all knew exactly what we could and could not say. Even if a parent suggested such a thing, we had to be cautious how we approached the answer to the question.

All in all, I am glad to have the form which I will not have to get again until my children get to college or my little one turns 6. I do think that there were many MANY problems within my visit. I chose to be personable anyway. I wanted to get in and out without issues. I held my tongue a few times, though there was a lot of information they could have really used.

Please excuse any typos you find. I really just want to be done with this entire situation so I probably won't proofread too much, or at all. I plan to follow up with the local and state entities in charge of these matters as so many things went wrong. A big thanks to L.J. for calming me down and helping me process things after this exchange. She rocks!

If you want to see the list of package inserts for vaccines so you can be sure they do not violate your religious beliefs, or those of your child, then click this sentence. :)

1 comment:

  1. A thought provoking account of a mom trying to protect her children and getting sidetracked as HIPA becomes meaningless in the real world. Thanks, Shell of