Off the Line
Sweet Homebirth (Video)
Midwives have existed since the
beginning of humanity. Why, then, is it so difficult to find a midwife in America?
What events occured between the mid 1800's until the present day which nearly made
midwifery extinct in America? And why are more families now looking into homebirth as a
refuge from hospital care?
Home Sweet Homebirth
provides the answers. Interviews with noted doctors, historians and midwives. Very
interesting and informative video.
CHILDREN'S VACCINE REGISTRY RAISES MEDICAL PRIVACY FEARS
By Frank James
May 7, 1999
WASHINGTON -- Busy parents often don't remember what immunizations their children have
received, a common problem in a mobile society where families may receive treatment from
many different pediatricians.
So public health officials have a solution--track vaccination histories through computer
databases. That way any authorized pediatrician or nurse could call up a child's entire
Immunization registries meant to ensure that boys and girls are up to date on their
vaccinations or that a child doesn't inadvertently get too many vaccine doses are being
created in about half the states. Illinois, which has 700,000 children in its database, is
planning to greatly expand its registry this year.
Although advocates view the registries as essential, many parents, medical privacy
advocates and some health-care professionals see the potential for invasions of privacy by
Opponents fear the databases could eventually be used by insurers and others to identify
and penalize parents and children who fail to get all the immunizations recommended by the
federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
And many critics worry that such registries represent the camel's nose under the tent in a
governmental effort that could result in comprehensive medical dossiers on millions of
Americans. Fueling their apprehensions is the lack of a broad federal law that protects
the privacy of Americans' medical information.
Twila Brase, president of the Citizens Council on Health Care and a registered nurse, said
the St. Paul-based health-care policy group views the issue as more than just keeping a
record of shots.
"Our concern is that this will not stay an immunization registry, but what it will do
is start to create state and federal health-care databases on citizens," she said.
"That, of course, would be what we would consider a violation" of individual
"We think this initiative is ill-conceived, it's a dangerous precedent and needs to
be abandoned," said Barbara Mullarkey of Oak Park, spokeswoman for the Illinois
Vaccine Awareness Coalition. "We don't want any surveillance, which is what this
Public health efforts have achieved a relatively high vaccination rate in the U.S. In its
national immunization survey, the CDC found that last year 76 percent to 78 percent of
American children 19 months to 35 months old were up to date on their shots against polio,
diphtheria, pertussis, measles and other serious diseases. Illinois stands at 78 percent.
Still, that was well below the 90 percent goal set for the year 2000 by the federal
Registry advocates believe the electronic databases could boost vaccination rates,
particularly among the poor, whose immunization levels tend to be lower.
In addition, they say, the suggested vaccination schedule is complex and getting more so.
The CDC recommends that by age 6 children get 20 to 21 doses of 11 different antigens, a
number that's likely to grow as hundreds of potential vaccines are under development.
"What immunization records are about is going from a paper system, where the
information required by doctors and nurses to tell if a child needs an immunization isn't
always available, to an electronic system where it would be," said Dr. Jose Cordero,
director of the CDC's National Immunization Program.
The transformation, Cordero said, resembles the shift in banking from the era when people
could only make withdrawals from their own banks to the current system in which they have
access to their money through a worldwide electronic network.
Dr. Robert Daum, director of the pediatric immunization program at the University of
Chicago Hospitals, said a computerized registry would be an immense help in caring for his
For instance, he said, a survey of a randomly chosen group of 1,000 children in the
suburbs would likely find that they received their vaccinations from, at most, half a
dozen clinics. "In Robert Taylor Homes, you ask a thousand parents that question, you
get 84 clinics. . ." Daum said.
"That tells you there are a lot of storefront providers out there who must be giving
a couple shots a month. Who are these folks? Who trained them? Where do they get their
current vaccine information from? Who's coordinating this?
"A tracking system would be the only way to unify that. That's why we need
A study by Daum's team also found that a third of parents who brought children to his
hospital's emergency room didn't know if their children were current on their
vaccinations, he said. "I think if you went out to the suburbs to a more affluent
population, the answer wouldn't be that different."
Only 8 percent of the surveyed parents correctly recalled the immunizations their children
received, Daum said.
Registry critics believe, however, that the solution the registries are meant to provide
could prove worse than the problem. Their concern is that the registries will be expanded
to include information far beyond immunizations.
"It's none of the government's business," said Phyllis Schlafly, a conservative
activist who is marshalling opposition to the registries through her Eagle Forum.
"I don't think they should have control of our medical records," she said.
"They're trying to control us. Do we live in communist China or free America? I
thought medical care was a personal matter . . ."
To allay privacy concerns, the National Vaccine Advisory Committee, which recently issued
a report on registries to the CDC, said parents should give their consent before
information about them and their children is entered into the databases. Some registries,
for instance, record the Social Security numbers of parents and children. Illinois does
Public health officials are committed to maintaining the confidentiality of information in
the registries and keeping insurers from gaining access, said Dr. John Lumpkin, director
of Illinois' Health Department. "I think parents will find the utility of this
(registry) appealing and the vast majority of them will opt in."
Chicago Tribune 5/07/99
Subscriptions are $12 a year,
$20 for two years
Lifetime Subscription: $100
Bulk Subscriptions (5 magazines each issue) $22 a year or
$35 for 2 years
order, please click to our
The Compleat Mother Magazine
Richmond, Illinois 60071
Phone: (815) 678-7531