In the beginning of 2019, there was buzz around social media regarding a piece of legislation that was going to be soon introduced by a Democratic legislator here in Wisconsin. The buzz was right, and in May of 2019, Assembly Bill 248[i]/ Senate Bill 262[ii] was introduced, which would eliminate Wisconsin’s personal conviction exemption from immunizations.
Wisconsin currently has three vaccine exemptions that are able to be used to opt out of one or more vaccines: personal conviction, religious, and medical.[iii] We have these three exemptions thanks to the advocacy of Marge Grant, whose son, Scottie, suffered a vaccine injury as an infant.[iv] She lobbied our Wisconsin state legislature in the 1980’s to help pass the bill that would allow those three exemptions for families to use in order for their children to attend day care and school. Wisconsin United For Freedom continues the fight to preserve Marge Grant’s three vaccine exemptions.
We saw what was occurring across the country in other states regarding this very issue.
In 2015, Vermont lawmakers narrowly voted to eliminate the personal conviction waiver for vaccination. In 2019, a bill was introduced to eliminate the states religious exemption[v] , and a similar bill was reintroduced in 2021.[vi]
In 2015, California legislators voted to remove the philosophical exemption waiver.[vii] They were then only left with a medical exemption, as they did not have a religious exemption in place, and in 2019, lawmakers severely restricted their medical exemption to which almost no one qualifies.[viii] On April 14, 2022 the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a statement delaying adding COVID-19 Vaccines to the list of vaccines required to attend school saying in part, To ensure sufficient time for successful implementation of new vaccine requirements, California will not initiate the regulatory process for a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for the 2022-2023 school year and as such, any vaccine requirements would not take effect until after full FDA approval and no sooner than July 1, 2023.[ix]
The New York legislature quickly passed a bill repealing their religious exemption to vaccination[x] , and in 2019, the Maine Governor signed a law removing both the philosophical and religious vaccine exemptions.[xi]The people of Maine tried, unsuccessfully to overturn the law by participating in a “people’s veto.”[xii] The pharmaceutical lobbyists were determined to ensure the law passed and spent over $500,000 to do so.[xiii]
Connecticut joined in 2021, with banning religious exemptions for childhood vaccinations.[xiv]
We watched as parents protested across the country, and decided we needed to make some noise to kill our own bill here in Wisconsin. We held a rally at the state capitol, where hundreds of Wisconsinites gathered with one goal – to protect our vaccine choices here in Wisconsin. Later that month, we became citizen lobbyists to stop AB248/SB262, the bill that would have removed Wisconsin's personal exemption for day care and K-12 students. We were successful, and the momentum was only growing.
In July of 2019, we decided to get involved in pushing back against the Wisconsin Department of Health Services when they tried to add an additional required vaccine – the meningococcal vaccine, to the schedule.[xv]
In September 2019, we activated all over the state to prevent resolutions from being passed by County Boards of Supervisors to encourage the Wisconsin state legislature to move AB248/SB262 forward (the bill to remove the personal exemption).
In March 2020, we rallied hundreds of Wisconsinites to attend a public hearing at the State Capitol to push back against DHS rule changes for CR 19-079[xvi]. These changes would have added the meningococcal vaccine to the schedule along with making it more difficult for parents to say their children had chicken pox to opt out of the chicken pox vaccine.
We sent a letter in July 2020 to all WI School districts informing them of the law regarding vaccine exemptions to ensure compliance so that community members were aware of their right to opt out.[xvii]
We have stayed vigilant in watching for new vaccine legislation, as well as keeping up with Covid-19 policies and restrictions, focused on preventing schools from being used as medical facilities.[xviii] We sent out over 20 Calls to Action to Wisconsinites regarding health freedom legislation to help educate constituents in protecting their rights regarding vaccine choice.
In the 2020-2021 legislative session, there was at least 17 bills related to vaccines that we kept an eye on. You can see more about the legislation in Wisconsin by going here: https://wisconsinunitedforfreedom.org/legislation
We have funded billboards and radio ads around WI to protect health freedom, attended numerous events, speaking engagements, and the like. We continue to be as engaged as possible, and we will not be going away.
Our why? Our children.
Wisconsin United For Freedom | 501(c)(4) Non-profit
P.O. Box 5757
De Pere, WI 54115
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