Tuesday, October 20, 2009

NAA New York Metro Chapter President Testifies on Mandatory Vaccinations at a Public Hearing Before Representatives of the NY State Assembly

On October 13, 2009, NAA New York Metro Chapter Chapter President, Sabeeha Rehman, testified at the Public Hearing before representatives of the New York State Assembly with respect to safety concerns related to the H1N1 vaccine, and in opposition to mandatory vaccination of healthcare workers for both the H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccines.

On August 13, 2009, the NY State Health Commissioner, Dr. Richard F. Daines, issued a regulation ordering that healthcare workers be vaccinated for the H1N1 and seasonal flu by November 30, 2009, or risk losing their jobs. Healthcare workers and others spoke up in strong opposition to this mandate and rallied in Albany on September 29 in opposition to Commissioner Daines’ edict. The Albany rally drew hundreds of concerned healthcare workers and other citizens. It appears that others in Albany took notice.

The public hearing held on October 13 in Manhattan and was presided over by Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, Chairman of the Assembly Health Committee and was called by the Assembly Standing Committee on Health, Assembly Standing Committee on Labor, Assembly Standing Committee on Education, Assembly Standing Committee on Higher Education, and Assembly Subcommittee on Workplace Safety.

Speaking up for the interest of families affected by autism, a panel of well-regarded individuals offered their testimony:
Sabeeha Rehman, President, NAA New York Metro Chapter; and the grandmother of a child affected by autism
Lisa Rudley, Coalition for Informed Choice and Autism Action Network; and the mother of a child affected by autism
John Gilmore, Executive Director, Autism Action Network; and the father of a child affected by autism
Louis Conte, Autism Action Network; President, Autism Westchester; and the father of triplets affected by autism
Mary Holland, J.D., legal scholar and a mother of a child affected by autism.

The highlights of the panel’s testimony included:
John Gilmore in providing a context of the legislative framework and history, raised the issue of the legality of the regulation requiring mandatory vaccines;
Louis Conte challenged the assertion of the H1N1 flu being a “pandemic;”
Lisa Rudley drew attention to the critical value of informed consent, and how mandatory vaccination eviscertated informed consent; and
Sabeeha Rehman raised the issue of safety of the H1N1 vaccines, particularly for pregnant women, referring to the package insert of the vaccine that states that these vaccines have not been tested for safety in pregnant women, or its impact on the fetus. One of the Assemblymembers asked to see the package insert. Ms. Rehman walked over to the dais and pointed out to the Assemblyman, on his copy of the package insert, the highlighted text stating that these vaccines had not been tested for safety in pregnant women. It was noted by the Assemblyman that he wish he had seen this earlier. Seeing what the manufacturers of the vaccines had disclosed and acknowledged, put to rest any ambiguity about the vaccine being safe for pregnant women.

The hearing started at 10 am, and the panel on autism didn’t get to present until 7:00 pm. The panel was 29th on the list of 60 witnesses. Testimonies were given by the State and City agencies, organizations representing teachers, nurses, physicians, unions; health networks, educational institutions, the American Civil Liberties Union, Life Health Choices, Consumer Health Freedom, and numerous individuals affected or potentially affected by Commissioner Daines’ policies.
Transcript of Testimony

P.S.: On October 16, Thomas J. McNamara, an acting justice of the State Supreme Court in Albany, issued a restraining order on the regulation, stopping the Health Commissioner’s plan, at least temporarily, in its tracks. http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/16/judge-halts-mandatory-flu-vaccines-for-health-care-workers/

On October 22, Governor David A. Paterson announced that the State Health Comissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., has suspended the mandatory influenza immunization requirement for New York health care workers.

Sabeeha Rehman

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