Health Freedom Idaho has spent the last two years going head to head with Idaho Department of Health and Welfare over their 'immunization exemption form'. The form was purportedly 'required' by all schools and daycares in accordance with a rule created by IDHW. The problem? This RULE created by a state department directly undermined an existing Idaho STATUTE (law). Parents, schools and legislators recognized the issue prior to HFI involvement. State Representative Heather Scott brought it up with the Idaho Attorney General, who made it clear that the health department should NOT encourage schools to deny entrance to children whose parents had complied with the statute and submitted a signed statement invoking exemptions (in place of the falsely required form). 1
Health Freedom Idaho presented multiple bills, over the course of the last two legislative sessions, addressing this inconsistency. SB 1050 and SB 1227 were each created to clarify that parents submitting written statements, in accordance with Idaho Statute regarding exemptions, was perfectly legal procedure for invoking exemption status for their children, rather than being coerced into using the IDHW exemption form. Neither bill was ever heard. The chairman of the senate health committee drawered them to avoid allowing these bills to be voted on by the entire legislature. This allowed IDHW to continue undermining law and train school staff to (illegally) deny the enrollment of children to schools and daycares whose parents chose to forego THEIR “official” form. The health department even went so far as to suggest that school staff go behind parents’ backs by filling out sections parents intentionally left blank.
PARENTS STAND UP. CHILD DENIED ACCESS TO SCHOOL OVER AN ILLEGAL FORM.
Issues surrounding the IDHW immunization form escalated. Sara's son was denied access to an Idaho kindergarten after she submitted her own signed statement to the school, along with her child's enrollment package, a month prior to the start date. Just days before school began, she was told her child was denied entry because she used her own signed statement, despite it being in full compliance with Idaho statute, rather than submit the IDHW form. This drew a LOT of media attention to the problem. It went up the chain of command and, rightfully, Sara's son’s enrollment denial was overturned by the Superintendent of Education.
GOV'T ATTEMPT TO MAKE THE FORM MORE PLEASING.
The IDHW immunization exemption form was problematic from the beginning. Senator Anton called out the form’s most significant issues at the SB 1050 Health Committee hearing. The original form from IDHW attempted to coerce parents to 'admit' to putting their children at risk by choosing not to vaccinate. It also demanded parents provide the state with their religious convictions for rejecting vaccinations. Throughout the years, the form has been redesigned and presented to the legislators and rule committees, but each draft continued to contain components not required by Idaho statute.
In a goodwill attempt, Sara was invited to a meeting to voice her opinion of the most recent 'revamp' on the IDHW immunization exemption form. Sara made a point to advise the committee that the form, in itself, is a non-requirement according to the Idaho statute.
"The state–prescribed form, based on IDAPA 16.02.15, is in violation of code 39–4802 and 39–4804. The form developed by IDHW still falls far outside the scope of Idaho code 39–1118(2) and 39-4802(2)."
Now, you may ask, “Have you seen the new form? They have taken the offensive language out of it.” Idaho Department of Health and Welfare altered the form both in February 2017 and in October 2017. It has changed, yet again, in 2018 with the addition of check boxes to give parents the option to 'opt-out' of providing non-required medical information utilized in vaccine tracking. Still, this "new" form implies that parents should provide information which IS NOT required by statute in order to invoke an immunization exemption for school or daycare attendance.
Health Freedom Idaho still stands against the form and advises parents to submit their written signed statement for vaccine exemption to schools and daycare.
HFI ENCOURAGES PARENTS TO STAND FIRM. SUCCESS!! QUIETLY THE GOVERNMENT APPROVED NEW RULES!
This is good news! Now the Department’s rules are in agreement with the LAW. This should not have taken so long and such a large effort to achieve. Idaho’s parents expect the schools and the legislature to be open to the will of the people and clearly and completely follow the law. We should have had a public hearing on this issue long ago. The resistance of the department and the legislative process in regard to the vaccine opt out matter was a perfect example of government being reluctant to follow the law while adopting an attitude of “we know best.” That is not the way things should work under representative government. I am proud to have joined ranks with those standing up for their rights under Idaho law. I was fully prepared to push this issue next legislative session, but thankfully that won’t be necessary.
Senator - District Five
The schools and day cares will now be required to follow the "letter of the law" allowing vaccine exemptions to children with a written statement provided it has only these 4 pieces of information.
A signed statement that must include: (5-18-18)
- i. The name of child and the child’s date of birth; and (5-18-18)
- ii. A statement indicating that the child is exempt from immunization as provided in Section 110 of this rule for religious or other objections; and (5-18-18)
- iii. The signature of the parent, custodian, or legal guardian (5-18-18)
So there you have it folks! We stood up together to make sure that our health freedom for vaccine exemptions was protected. Remember we stand stronger, and our voice is louder when we stand together. JOIN US!
1 In September 2015, Representative Scott sent a series of questions to the Idaho Attorney General. The first answers received are here (9-9-15-IdahoAGOpinion.pdf). In response to several questions that were not clearly addressed, Representative Scott sent out a series of follow up questions. The answers to these questions are here (10-14-2015-IdahoAGResponse.pdf). Please note the answers to questions 3 and 4. If you are having trouble with your school accepting an exemption letter versus filling out an IDHW exemption form, feel free to download this Idaho AG response and share it with your school.
2 Schools are falsely telling parents seeking vaccine exemptions that they must fill out and sign a state prescribed form that is “incriminating” based on IDAPA 16.02.15, an Administrative Rule in conflict with Idaho law. See Administrative Rule 16.02.15 Immunization Requirements for Idaho School Children (page 6)