RALPH FUCETOLA III, J.D.
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Sample Exemption Letters (religious and medical)
Christian Religious Objection - Bible verses
Attorney Opinion Letter
September 20, 2000
To Whom it May Concern:
Re: Lawful Immunization Alternatives
This opinion letter was requested by Sisana Nutritional Centers, in 2000, [then] located in New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico. It has been prepared for those patients at the Centers who have made an informed decision, on proper grounds, to decline pathological immunization for their children. Some have also chosen homeopathic immunization instead.
History of Immunization
While formal medical immunization has existed since Dr. Jenner's work with cow pox and small pox in the late 1700's, the idea that "like cures like" has been part of traditional medicine for thousands of years. In recent years the simple use of less virulent pathogen strains to inform the immune system and prepare the body's defenses against infection has been supplanted by the use of potentially dangerous recombinant organisms that can have deadly "side effects." Many informed, concerned individuals have rejected this extension of immunology, due to their religious beliefs, or because health care advisors have warned them of potential dangers.
Additionally, the US Supreme Court stated, in Jacobsen v. Com. of Massachusetts, 197 US 11, "an exception is made in favor of 'children who present a certificate, signed by a registered physician that they are unfit subjects for vaccination'." Code of Medical Ethics, Sect. 1.02 provides, "In exceptional circumstances of unjust laws, ethical responsibility should supercede legal obligations." Physicians who intend to provide such certificate are now governed by the Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization practices (ACIP) and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and found at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5102a1.htm. At Table 5, Guide to Contraindications, it is stated (for example) in regard to the Hepatitis B vaccine, "allergic reaction after a previous dose or to a vaccine component" is a "true contraindication" justifying the withholding of further vaccination.
Recognized Dangers of Immunization
A number of physicians and scientists have cited the dangers of medical immunization in published reports. See, for example, Eva Lee Snead, M.D., Immunological Response Syndrome and Rebecca Carley, M.D., http://www.drcarley.com/. The cumulative effect of many immunizations (now often up to 20) given during the first two years of life is unknown, since previous generations were subjected to far fewer immunization shots. In this sense, immunization remains an experimental procedure, that, under International Law may be administered only voluntarily and with fully informed consent (see the Helsinki & Nuremberg doctrines). The existence of the Federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) that substitutes government compensation for the right to sue pharmaceutical companies for injuries is a clear indication of the uninsurable risk that vaccination involves. The Federal VICP site is http://bhpr.hrsa.gov/vicp/.
Immunization Choice Statutory and Case Law
Most States have statutory provisions permitting parents the freedom to choose alternatives to immunization. Courts have been called upon to protect the rights of parents to make the informed choice to reject medical immunization. Among the leading cases protecting family choice in this matter is a New York case, Shen' and Levy v Northport-East Northport Union Free School District, 672 F. Supp. 81 (E. D. N.Y., 1987). New York and New Jersey's statutory provisions are at the end of this letter.
Since its development by S. Hahnemann, M.D. in the late 1700's, Homeopathy has offered a legally valid alternative to Pathology and is a recognized system and school of medicine throughout the world. The use of homeopathic immunization, such as the use of Oscillococcinum at the start of flu season, is an appropriate alternative to medical immunization and is legally equal to it, where the terms of the relevant statutes are met.
Individual families may have religious beliefs that preclude the use of vaccination. Membership in a recognized church that objects to immunization is not necessary. Even those who belong to churches that do not object to immunization may themselves have religious objection to immunization. Under the statutes, it is clearly a parental choice. In New Jersey, for example, " if the parent or guardian of the pupil objects thereto in a written statement signed by the parent or guardian upon the ground that the proposed immunization interferes with the free exercise of the pupil's religious rights..." the child is exempt from vaccination.
It is therefore my opinion, as an attorney with twenty-five years experience in the field of medical and nutritional law, that, if they meet the statutes' requirements, parents may lawfully choose to reject immunization for their children and that public school and other government authorities are bound by law to respect that decision and may not bar such children from public school. The choice of a parent to use homeopathic immunization is a separate issue and does not come within the purview of the immunization statutes. This alternative is a private family matter that may be freely chosen by any parent, guardian or emancipated child. All rights reserved -- UCC 1-207.
Ralph Fucetola JD
New York's Statutory Provisions
New York's Statute (Section 2164) provides, in Clause 8, an exemption where a New York licensed Physician "certifies that such immunization may be detrimental to a child's health..." Clause 9 provides another exemption where the "parent, parents or guardian hold genuine and sincere religious beliefs which are contrary to [immunization]..." Clause 6 of the Statute obligates School Officials to provide parents with a form to register their "valid reason for withholding consent."
New Jersey's Statutory Provisions
The State Sanitary Code (26:1A-9.1) provides for "exemption for pupils from mandatory immunization if the parent or guardian of the pupil objects thereto in a written statement signed by the parent or guardian upon the ground that the proposed immunization interferes with the free exercise of the pupil's religious rights. This exemption may be suspended... during the existence of an emergency..."
Institutions of higher education have two additional provisions. 18A:61D-3. Conflict with Religious Beliefs: "A student who submits to the institution of higher education a written statement that immunization conflicts with his religious beliefs shall not be required to submit a list of immunizations to the institution as a condition of admission or continued enrollment." Also, 18A:61D-4, "A student who submits to the institution a written statement that an immunization is medically contraindicated shall submit a valid immunization record of other administered immunizations in accordance with regulations promulgated by the department. *** [18A:61D-5] "The provisions of this act shall not be construed as holding any institution of higher education liable for failure to notify a student of any outbreak of contagious disease, or the threat of any disease outbreak."
The State School Code, however, states: 57-4.4 - Religious
"A child shall be exempted from mandatory immunization if the parent or guardian objects thereto in a written statement submitted to the school, preschool, or child care center, signed by the parent or guardian, explaining how the administration of immunizing agents conflicts with the pupil's exercise of bona fide religious tenets or practices. *** Those children enrolled in school, preschool, or child care centers before September 1, 1991, and who have previously been granted a religious exemption, shall not be required to reapply for a new religious exemption under N.J.A.C. 8:57-4.4(a)."
It is my opinion that the regulation requirement "explaining how the administration of immunizing agents conflicts with the pupil's exercise of bona fide religious tenets or practices." is illegal and would not withstand constitutional challenge. Government may not condition such exemption on a religious test that requires an examination of the religious beliefs of the family involved. Such an examination is a clear First Amendment violation.
What follows is a Sample Exemption Letter for use in New Jersey.
The undersigned is the parent or guardian of [Child's name].
The State Sanitary Code (26:1A-9.1) provides for "exemption for pupils from mandatory immunization if the parent or guardian of the pupil objects thereto in a written statement signed by the parent or guardian upon the ground that the proposed immunization interferes with the free exercise of the pupil's religious rights."
I do therefore hereby certify that the proposed immunization interferes with the free exercise of the child's religious rights. The administration of immunizing agents conflicts with the child's exercise of religious tenets or practices in that we object to the administration of such agents by injection or orally based upon our religious beliefs.
[Signature of Parent or Guardian]
Following is a Sample Medical Excuse Letter that any reasonable physician should be able to sign, based upon the parents' assertion of a history of allergic reaction.
Immunization Medical Excuse Letter
Name of Student: ____________________________________
Name of Physician: _________________________________
Address of Physician: ________________________________
Name of School: ____________________________________
Dear School Nurse:
This letter is provided as a Medical Excuse for the above named student to be excused from receiving the Hepatitis B or other Vaccination.
The medical history of the student, as relayed by the parents, indicates an allergic reaction to a previous vaccination or vaccine component.
Such reaction is listed as a “true contraindication” in the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) Guidelines, found at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5102a1.htm. On Table 5, Guide to Contraindications, it is stated, in regard to the Hepatitis B vaccine, "allergic reaction after a previous dose or to a vaccine component" is a "true contraindication" justifying the withholding of further vaccination
by: Ralph Fucetola JD
A Christian lady sent me the following information about religious objections to mandatory vaccination:
"And hearing this, Jesus said to them, 'It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'" (Mark 2:17)
"That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." (1st Corinthians 2:5)
"Our faith is God and in his holy word, being the Holy Bible, which is authored by God. This is the instruction book for the living that He has left us and in it He tells us he is our protector and we stand by his promise. Our faith is in the Lord Jesus.
"Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you which ye have of God and ye are not your own?" (1st COR 6:19)
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