H1N1 (photo: CDC)
Officials in at least one state have tried to deny children who are homeschooled access to the limited supplies of vaccine for the H1N1 flu, which federal officials warn already has affected some 22 million Americans.
Quick intervention by the Home School Legal Defense Association, however, has brought a solution for parents who do want their children vaccinated.
The denials of access took place at two locations in Virginia, according to a new report from the organization that works in support of homeschool students and their families.
In the southwestern region of the state, a mom brought two children to a public health department for a vaccination only to be told, “We’re saving the vaccine for public school students.”
Across the state, another mom checked with a local school district, which was staging a health event for vaccinations, about obtaining vaccinations for her children and was told the family was not allowed on the property.
The discrimination against homeschool students got the attention of HSLDA Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff, who promptly started making phone calls.
The state health department responded immediately to the situation in the southwest district, making arrangements for vaccinations for the children, who are in a target group identified by the federal government.
At the other end of the state, school officials were adamant that they would decide who would get the treatment, HSLDA said.
Woodruff then asked nearby public health officials their plans for providing the vaccine to members of the targeted groups, only to be told they could get in line with everyone else.
“Confronted with this totally unsatisfactory situation, Woodruff sent a memo to the state commissioner of health,” the HSLDA reported. “This began a chain of events that led to a statewide conference call with Woodruff, Yvonne Bunn of Home Educators Association of Virginia, Parish Mort of Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers, Dr. Karen Remley, state commissioner of health, Dr. Diane Helentjaris, state office of epidemiology, and others.”
Woodruff suggested Remley instruct local public health departments to set aside times each week to respond to the needs of unvaccinated children. While she made no immediate commitment, she eventually agreed to the request and began instructing health departments to set up the sessions, HSLDA reported.
“Many parents have good reasons to not vaccinate their children,” the HSLDA report said. “But for those who want it, they can now expect their children, as members of a target group, to have equitable access when the vaccine is available at public health departments.”