A Pickens School student and her father have filed a complaint in Randolph County Circuit Court seeking an injunction allowing the student to return to classes after being prohibited from attending for two weeks.
Olivia Hudok and Phil Hudok are asking the Randolph County Board of Education, Randolph County schools and Superintendent Dr. James Phares "to comply with their constitutional and statutory obligation to provide O.H. education and thus to admit O.H. to the high school she attended so she may continue her studies as she undertook them prior to the superintendent's letter."
The Pickens High School senior has been prohibited from attending school because of her noncompliance in receiving booster vaccinations.
Under a new state mandate, the deadline for all seventh- and 12th-grade students to show proof of a booster for Tdap and MCV4 vaccinations was Sept. 4. The Tdap immunization protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, also known as whooping cough. Meningococcal meningitis, a serious bacterial infection of the spinal cord, is prevented by the MCV4 vaccine.
Olivia Hudok has refused to take these boosters due to her religious convictions that they contain toxic ingredients.
She received two letters on Sept. 7; one from the Randolph-Elkins Health Department stating she would be refused admission from Pickens School beginning Sept. 10, and another from Randolph County Superintendent of Schools threatening to remove her from school and charge her with trespassing if she tries to attend school.
Editor's Note: The following is a request, dated Sept. 11, from the Randolph-Elkins Health Department to the Hudoks' request for exemption to the state mandated booster vaccines.
Randolph-Elkins Health Department's mission is to promote health and welfare for the individuals and the community. We do not make the law, but enforce state law and policy.
The compulsory immunization law is a public health issue, not a personal freedom issue.
It protects everyone in the school systems and the whole community. Legally speaking, courts at every level, including the U.S. Supreme Court have upheld the rights of states to compel immunization for school entry without granting personal belief exemptions.
As a public health effort, vaccines are the greatest achievement ever, especially in the 20th century. In the early 1900's, the biggest killer of children was infection. Vaccines have increased peoples life span by 30 years. Now the biggest killer of children is accidents.
There are parents that do not trust vaccines but all the vaccines are reviewed by expert committees, by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC. All vaccines are widely tested before licensure.
One way vaccines prevent infection is through herd immunity.Herd immunity means that a large enough percentage of the population is immune which prevents the smaller percentage that is not immunized from getting deadly infections.
Herd immunity only works if a large percentage of the children get the vaccine. If that percentage gets lower, we will see the rate of vaccine preventable diseases increase.
Mary S. Boyd
Health Officer Randolph-Elkins Health Department
The Hudoks' complaint, filed Sept. 11 in Randolph County Circuit Court, alleges "the authority of the Department of Health and Human Resources to promulgate and enforce such rule, on its own or through local health departments, is presently being challenged in Kanawha County Circuit Court."
It further claims that Olivia Hudok received the Tdap and MCV4 immunizations as a child as required by state law. Although she has not received the Tdap and MCV4 booster vaccinations, the Hudoks believe that her earlier immunizations fulfill the requirements of West Virginia Code 16-3-4.
Although not a party to the Kanawha County challenge, the Hudoks believe that the new state mandate has been issued improperly, and therefore has no force or effect.
The complaint states that "Olivia will suffer irreparable harm by being denied her fundamental right to an education. Plaintiff will suffer irreparable harm by being subject to truancy charges and other statutory sanctions for failing to ensure that Olivia attends school. The defendants will suffer no injury as the result of the issuance of injunctive relief, whereas Olivia and Phil Hudok will suffer or be exposed to serious, unlawful denials of fundamental rights if no injunction issues."
West Virginia and Mississippi are the only states in the United States that do not recognize religious exemptions regarding vaccinations.
The Hudoks are not seeking any financial restitution other than their attorney fees and court costs.
Contact Beth Christian Broschart by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.