My name is Dr. Suzanne Humphries. I am a medical doctor, board certified in Nephrology and trained in Internal Medicine. I hold active unrestricted medical licenses in Maine and Virginia. I also have a physics degree, and spent two years in a laboratory using techniques identical to those used for vaccine manufacture and testing.
You have welcomed the public to make submissions on the policy options on slide #58 and #59 of Stephen Weiss’ presentation from August 3rd, 2016. The information upon which to make a choice is predicated on you accepting that what he said beforehand, was accurately portrayed.
This letter is specifically intended to address serious inaccuracies and misrepresentations stated by Stephen Weiss in his presentation to the subcommittee on August 3rd in Richmond, VA.
The argument of those advocating for elimination of religious exemptions often boils down to, “Can we grant these religious exemptions, in the face of a growing non-vaccinating population, when there is so much science showing vaccine safety, effectiveness and necessity?”
The claim by Mr. Weiss and the representative for Voices for Vaccines is that the religious exemption rate is growing, and fraudulent because the people taking the exemption are not “really sincerely religious”. This claim ignores that fact that Virginia law historically protects freedom of conscience—not just religion.
There is specific protection of freedom of thought, conscience and religion in the Act for Religious Freedom authored by Thomas Jefferson and reaffirmed by the General Assembly in 2007, and those human rights are also acknowledged in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights issued by the UN in 1948. Virginia law requires “no test” of religious beliefs to exercise civil rights. Any change to this law is a privacy violation.
The issue at hand should focus on the religious vaccine exemption and what it really represents. Instead, those who seek to limit exercise of religious beliefs and informed consent to medical decision-making, continue to pull the science card, as the basis for a need to change vaccine laws by insisting that so-called science justifies violating religious beliefs, to achieve public health protection. However, science is only useful as a guide to lawmaking if the facts presented to you are accurate.
As a scientist, medical doctor, (board certified internal medicine and nephrology) and author, who has spent thousands of hours since 2009 researching vaccines, I will focus on the serious shortcomings of the report Mr. Weiss wrote, which prejudice the ability of legislators and the public to rationally consider any of the policy options on slide #58 and #59.
PDF version of the submission here.