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Ruling Safeguards The Public Health

October 23, 2012
The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

A Kanawha County circuit judge has thrown out a lawsuit brought by a group of parents who do not believe they should be required to fully vaccinate their children against potentially deadly diseases.

These parents, under the slogan "We The Parents," tried to fight a West Virginia state law that requires immunizations at various stages of a child's education in public schools. Those rules are developed by the Department of Health and Human Resources, but "We The Parents" argued the department did not have the right to require additional vaccines without approval from the Legislature.

Apparently they believe politicians have a better grasp on the medical realities of modern life than the DHHR, which also considers the latest information from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Kanawha Circuit Judge Tod J. Kaufman wrote in his dismissal order, "The rule is entitled to substantial deference as it represents the best judgment of a national group with undoubted expertise and experience whose judgments are vetted before the public."

Groups like "We The Parents" pose a danger not only to public health, but to impressionable parents who may be confused by its message and tempted to send money to support such a misguided effort.

"We The Parents" is attempting to raise money to appeal Kaufman's ruling. In its plea for cash, the group claims the children of "several West Virginia families (are) being denied an education ..."

Earlier this year, the group asked the judge to allow just three students, in Ohio, Randolph and Mercer counties, to attend public school without being inoculated against certain contagious diseases. And, far from being denied an education, those students are now receiving court-ordered homebound instruction, paid for by the counties, until the case is resolved.

Kaufman was correct, of course. Certainly, the rights of individual parents and children must be safeguarded. But so do the rights of the overwhelming majority of West Virginians, whose health may be imperiled by the refusal of a few to have their children vaccinated.

 
 

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