Forced vaccinations? What's going on in Maryland?

In case you haven't heard what's happening in Maryland, I'll repost a Christian Science Monitor Story (via CBS News) below. I don't know about you, but there's no way anyone's forcing me to give my kids vaccines. And I haven't read much about the autism families in Maryland and how they're dealing with this. So, read the article and try to imagine how much thimerosal was pumped into these kids' arms.

Maryland County Gets Tough On Vaccinations

(Christian Science Monitor) This article was written by Gail Russell Chaddock.

For the parents that converged on a courthouse in Prince George's County, Md., on Saturday morning, the choice seemed clear: Vaccinate your kids or go to jail.

In fact, there are exemptions for medical or religious reasons in the state of Maryland. But few parents standing in lines that stretched down the sidewalk outside the county courthouse said they were aware of them.

Flanked by protesters and television crews, parents said they just wanted to sort out immunizations, so their kids could go back to school - and they could avoid penalties of up to 10 days in jail and $50 a day in fines.

"I've got too many children to raise to go to jail," says Remy Durham, who cares for her nephew, Lamonte Hyter, along with seven other children.

All states require that children be immunized from some childhood diseases, but the crackdown in Prince George's County has attracted international attention.

"We've had calls and e-mail from all over the country, especially the Midwest, as well as England, Germany, and Poland," says Glenn Ivey, state's attorney in Prince George's County, in a phone interview.

A lot of the uproar over the county's new approach to this issue was fueled by misinformation, he said - especially Web sites that said "we were going to start arresting people." One critic "called me a jackbooted representative of a United Nations, international pharmaceutical conspiracy," he says.

In fact, no decision has been made yet on what steps to take next, and it was never intended to scare people, he says. He's boiled his answer to critics down to one line: "It's about getting kids back in school, not to put parents in jail," he said.

By the start of the 2007 school year, more than 2,800 children in Prince George's County were not in compliance with state mandates on immunizations. The school board asked the courts to help by setting up a date for parents to either have their children vaccinated on site or provide evidence that they were in compliance with the law.


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