Children on Air Force Daycare Centers
Forced To Receive The H1N1 Vaccine
About 25,000 children in on-base Air Force daycare centers will
be forced to receive the H1N1 vaccine or face being barred from
school, Truthout has learned following reports from concerned
When a number of Air Force parents opened the November Child
Development Center newsletter, they were outraged to learn that
their children must receive the H1N1 vaccine. The newsletter article
indicates that the Air Force is considering the H1N1 vaccine as
part of the required seasonal flu vaccination.
The notification states:
Recently we received guidance from AF regarding the H1N1 vaccination.
AF is considering the H1N1 vaccine as part of the required flu
immunization. So, all children participating in AF programs
must have the H1N1 vaccination as it becomes available. We are
currently working w/ Public Health & the Immunization Clinic
to provide on-site opportunities for your children to receive
the H1N1 vaccine. There must be a minimum of 18 days between
the seasonal mist and the H1N1 mist, so the Child Development
Program cannot offer the H1N1 vaccine until mid to late November,
since we just completed the seasonal flu vaccination. We will
continue to provide you w/ updates as the H1N1 becomes available.
Children MUST get this vaccine OR have a medical exemption on
file. Please see a member of management if you have any questions
or speak w/ your child's pediatrician! We are also coordinating
to have members of Public Health available to answer your questions
- stay tuned for more details.
A parent at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, FL, speaking on
condition of anonymity out of concern for reprisal against herself
and her husband, was disturbed by the complete lack of confidence
and answers from the center's administrators.
"What I got was a lot of 'shoulds.' It 'should' be fine.
There 'should' be no problems with the vaccine."
"If they're not sure," she said, "why should I
This action follows an already controversial decision from the
Pentagon announced in September to make the H1N1 vaccine mandatory
in all branches of the military's program. That requirement has
been put on hold because the Department of Defense's supplier,
Novartis, has not been able to deliver the
Last month, New York Governor David Paterson suspended mandatory
vaccinations of a half million New York healthcare workers, citing
a vaccine shortage. However, others point to lawsuits, protests
and a restraining order as pulling equal weight in bringing the
program to a halt.
Meryl Nass, a vaccine expert at Mount Desert Island Hospital
in Bar Harbor, Maine, who is critical of the development of the
H1N1 vaccine and its surrounding policies, said that although
"soldiers are subject to mandatory vaccinations, mandatory
medical examinations and potentially even mandatory medical procedures
- their families did not sign up for this!"
Additionally, Nass notes, "Children need to be especially
protected by society, as they are not competent to make vaccination
decisions for themselves. This is why there are special requirements
to be met before you can perform research on children. You can't
bribe parents to offer their kids as experimental subjects, for
But for many Air Force parents, household income levels prevent
them from finding a true alternative.
In testimony before the Senate Committee on Armed Services Personnel
Subcommittee in June, Eliza Nesmith, Chief of the Airman and Family
Services Division of the Air Force, stated that "over 50
percent of Air Force spouses currently work outside the home,
and 77 percent wish to work outside the home. Typically, military
spouses earn less than their civilian counterparts, even though
7 of 10 have some college education."
Nesmith's testimony highlights the degree to which military parents
rely on the on-base child care available to them. Child care in
the military is heavily subsidized on a sliding scale according
to household income. Thus, parents who rely on the subsidized
child care are forced to choose between transferring their children
to child care they cannot afford or, at least from their standpoint,
putting their children's health at risk.
A spokesperson for the Air Force defended the Air Force's action,
citing the Air Force Joint Instruction 48-110: "As a condition
of employment or attendance at these facilities, schoolteachers,
childcare center workers, volunteers, and children attending DODñsponsored
primary and secondary schools, childcare centers, or similar facilities
are administered appropriate vaccines against communicable diseases
unless already immune (based on documented receipt of vaccine
series or physicianñdiagnosed illness) or medically/administratively
Additionally, the Air Force spokesperson said, "For immunization
requirements, the Air Force follows the CDC recommendations, which
are endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)."
However, while the CDC does recommend the H1N1 vaccine, a CDC
spokesperson contradicted the Air Force's rationale for the mandatory
vaccine stating, "We have no recommendations for mandatory
vaccinations." The FDA, while not a recommendation-issuing
body, supports the CDC's voluntary policy.
A spokesman for the Marine Corps said that while they are happy
to make the vaccine available to Marine families, they will not
be implementing a mandatory program because their jurisdiction
to do so "ends with servicemen and women."
The Army is in the midst of developing an H1N1 guidance memo
for its child and youth services facilities. Until it is published,
the current policy dictates that parents are asked not to bring
sick children to the facilities, and if child care center employees
determine a child is sick, parents will be called and asked to
pick the child up. However, an Army spokesperson said, "Nothing
in our forthcoming guidance will require vaccinations."
For Nass, justifying a decision boils down to one simple fact:
"Children are not soldiers."
A full list of h1n1 vaccine ingredients, alerts and warnings.
November 22, 2009