Open Letter to WA State Legislators on Vaccinations…

Washington State Capitol

First, since this is likely the first visit to the site for almost all of you, and the first interaction with me as a constituent or citizen for just shy of that same amount, let me start with an introduction…

As the domain name suggests, I am a dad. I have four precious kids that I delivered into this world (one at home, three at a hospital). I was the first to hold them, to support them, and to love them.

I’m also the father of one that I was never able to hold alive. My wife had contracted gastroenteritis, and went into the emergency room. She was seen, given one bag of IV fluids, and despite her symptoms not fully subsiding and despite some signs of fetal distress that she was insisting were concerns, she was sent home by the attending physician.  And a day or two later we lost our son at 14 weeks.  To top it off, when she called into the hospital to find out how we were supposed to deal with his body, she was asked, to our shock and disgust, whether he was too big to flush down the toilet.

All that to say these: medicine isn’t perfect. Medical professionals are human. They make mistakes.

And so do politicians.

Removing the personal or philosophical exemption without expanding the medical exemption is a mistake.

Every vaccine has possible side effects, and some of them extremely severe. It’s juvenile to believe that vaccines are “safe and effective” because it implies that all vaccines are safe and effective, and that they are tested at the same level as other drugs. Neither is true. All have possible side effects, and all have dangers…

Medical exemptions in the State of WA currently only allow physicians to grant a waiver if there is a “valid medical contraindication”. Do you, as a legislator, know what the entails? If not, the common ones are here (from the CDC). Note that almost EVERY one of them lists this as the main contraindication: “Severe allergic reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) after a previous dose or to a vaccine component.” So my child has to have a severe reaction in order to be granted a waiver, despite say, certain family medical history like allergies or seizures? Yes, that’s exactly what it means.  The CDC even has a chart on Conditions Commonly Misperceived as Contraindications to Vaccination. Listed, specifically: allergies and family history of seizures…two of the very things that under many other medical procedures would, in fact, be contraindications.

But look at some of the things in that list.

Fever of ≥105°F (≥40.5°C) for 48 hours after vaccination with a previous dose of DTP or DTaP;
Collapse or shock-like state (i.e., hypotonic hyporesponsive episode) within 48 hours after receiving a previous dose of DTP/DTaP;
Seizure less than 3 days after receiving a previous dose of DTP/DTaP

Just three examples that the CDC would say aren’t medically relevant. Any other medical procedure they certainly would be.

As a parent, and as a parent that has suffered loss because of medical negligence, I can tell you without hesitation that those are indeed areas of concern.  We are not the current media-driven ‘anti-vaxxers’…we believe in actual informed consent and judging each vaccine on its own merits and dangers, and because of that, we’ve chosen to selectively vaccinate. Removing one set of exemptions because of a political knee-jerk reaction to a measles outbreak that is not larger than normal, and no more dangerous than other years is not just a mistake, but a dangerous one.  Vaccinations are a medical decision that should be made between parents and physicians, not the State.

Not by you.

You may, like the vaccine manufacturers, not have any legal liability because of your decisions, but that doesn’t relieve you of doing the right thing. And the right thing is to leave such decisions to parents and to their healthcare providers.

First, since this is likely the first visit to the site for almost all of you, and the first interaction with me as a constituent or citizen for just shy of that same amount, let me start with an introduction… As the domain name suggests, I am a dad. I have four precious kids that…


  1. The first response received to the emailing of all WA State legislators came from Rep. Norm Johnson. Simple and succinct…I liked it:
    "Scott thank you for your letter. I appreciate your sharing your views with me. Norm Johnson"

  2. The next response came from Rep. Lynda Wilson:
    Dear Scott,

    Thank you for contacting my office on this important issue.

    I agree with you and believe parents should have the ability to make decisions for their kids – not government. When and if HB 2009 comes to the floor, please be assured I will vote against it.

  3. The next one cracked me up a little. Very pleasant, very informal, very personable…from Rep. Ed Orcutt:


    It is my preference that people have their children vaccinated to help prevent the spread of childhood diseases, but I also try to stand up for the rights of parents who wish to NOT immunize their children. I will consider each piece of legislation carefully to see if it is protecting that freedom without unnecessary burdens on parents. I do know that past proposals have required a physician visit – a huge problem and expense for larger or poorer families (and I do have portions of my district where families are generally large – I know of one family of 18 kids!). It seems to me that most parents will have a child in for a check-up or for treatment of illness or injury. And anyone with 18 kids has likely had the discussion numerous times prior to even the 10th, much less the 18th – kid.

    I expect this bill is very much like one we saw a few years ago. If it is effectively the same, I expect I will vote as I did on that version – “No”.

    I hope this information is helpful to you.


  4. Next response was from Rep. Graham Hunt:
    I appreciate you taking the time to express your opposition to HB 2009, which passed out of the Health Care & Wellness Committee on February 27. I am opposed to this measure and will speak against it when it comes before the full House for consideration.

  5. Latest response, from Rep. Dan Griffey:
    Thank you for your email, I firmly believe that constituent involvement in the legislative process is critical if I am to truly represent the people of the 35th District. I am a firm believer in every citizens right to choose their own path, I do not support this bill and I will continue to oppose any efforts to remove our rights. Thank you again for contacting my office with your concerns.